I've just returned from Vietnam, on assignment with the organization Photographers Without Borders. On this trip I was to document the work of "Hearts for Hue", a humanitarian NGO looking to help rebuilt one of the hardest-hit cities of the Vietnam war - a war that, apparently, is still going on between the North and the South. My assignment was to tell the story of the positive difference the organization was making, via both stills and video. There are a lot of stories to tell, and of course many of you are interested in the technical side (including why I rarely kept the camera on straight "Auto"). So I'm splitting this story into two blog posts - in this one I'll share with you my pictures and stories. In the next post I'll talk about what the experience was like, the equipment I used, and what it's like working for Photographers Without Borders. You can do this kind of work for them too!
Hearts for Hue, in conjunction with several corporate donors around the world, administers several programs to help its neediest citizens:
1) Chicken, pig, and duck raising program – HfH donates livestock and trains recipients how to care for them, breed them, and take them to market (as well as using them for feeding the family). This not only brings in disposable income, but it also helps feed the families and gives people meaningful work they can do. 200 years ago everyone knew how to do this, but this knowledge has been lost through industrialization. More than 1000 people who can't hold conventional jobs due to disabilities have been helped through this sustainable program.
2) Microfinance – small loans are made to groups within communities to help local businesses ramp up. Generally these loans are made to groups of 10 or so families within a community; larger loans are only made available once all the families pay the loans back (thereby providing social pressure for everyone to repay the loans).
3) Clean Water and sanitation project, which has brought clean water and sanitary toilets (complete with septic tank) to 10 households in the Phuc Loc village. What you can't see is all the work uphill: They built a dam, they filtered the water, and brought the water to the houses. HfH coordinated this effort with local authorities and international donors.
4) Literacy programs – the Motorbike Book Club. Like a bookmobile, once a week a representative comes to a small village and loan out books - mostly in English, but have been hand-translated into Vietnamese. The kids also can indulge in puzzles and played fun games before the visit ends.
5) The Solar program provides solar-powered lights to areas that lack electricity; usually the areas selected also participate in the Motobike Book Club so the kids can read the books they borrow at night.
|One of many recipients of the Chicken Raising Program. Hearts for Hue got volunteers to build the coupe, and donated 30 chickens (plus knowledge on how to use them to run a business).
|This one's in hog heaven.
|This is the result of the Clean Water Project, which brought clean water and sanitary toilets (complete with septic tank) to 10 households in the Phuc Loc village. More about Hearts for Hue here: http://heartsforhue.org/about/
|Washing rice in a most certainly unclean river. The rice is cooked making it safe to eat.
|Portrait of a Buddhist.
|The Buddhist temple I visited took in a lot of orphans (like these two) and provides food, shelter, clothing, and education. Here they were in a class learning English.
|Hearts for Hue collaborated with the DOVE Foundation and Singapore Management University to build this kindergarten school in the Xuan Loc commune.
|Cutting out some intricate decorations
|While there I visited the largest farmer's market I've ever seen.
|Kids are cute the world over.
This is just a taste of the photos I shot. If you want to get a more well-rounded version of what the trip was like you can view my facebook feed starting Nov. 30th 2018, and/or have a look at this Google Photos album I've created.
|I don't make the cover as often as you think. -) The next edition (in the mail now) has an 8-page spread describing this project in greater detail. Subscribe today!