Thirteen years old student L. lives with her parents and brother in Bay village, Phu Cuong commune, Tan Lac district, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam. Her house is located halfway up the hill, isolated from the residential area and provides little safety and comfort for the family with its lack of doors and bathroom.
The family income relies entirely on L.’s father’s work and what her mother could get from selling vegetables, crabs, and snails she picks every day. Making ends meet was difficult, and L.’s parents also both suffer from mental health problems.
Life at home was unsafe for L.. She was alone most of the time and is frequently scolded by her father when he is drunk. She used to shower outside in the open or at her neighbors’ doorless bathroom, and defecate on the hills since there was no toilet. In August 2019, on her way home from school, L. was hit by a drunk motorbike driver and injured her leg. Since the family could not afford her medical treatment, the community and village authorities contributed to support the child’s hospital fees. According to the doctor, after 12 months, she needs to return to have a nail removal. However, after two years (24 months), she was still not taken back to the hospital due to her family’s financial difficulties. Whenever there was a change in weather, her leg aches and she couldn’t walk, so she had to leave school.
ChildFund Vietnam’s project “Improving Child Protection System Effectiveness” has worked with local authorities and communities to intervene and provide urgent support for L.. Firstly, commune child protection workers came to her house to provide L. with knowledge of child safety and skills to react in unsafe situations. Secondly, the project mobilised resources to help L. get her nail removal surgery in August 2021. Thirdly, with technical assistance from the Water and Sanitisation Hygiene (WASH) project and support from the Youth Union and local authorities, a 10m2 bathroom with toilet as well as doors have been built for L.’s house. The project also worked with the Education and Training Sub-department and L.’s school to help her return to school and reintegrate into the community. In addition, commune child protection workers frequently visited L.’s family to communicate on child protection for L. and her parents.
After the surgery, L.’s health is now stable, allowing her to return to school. With useful life skills provided to her, L. feels safer as she knows how to respond to and reach out for support in unsafe situations. The newly built facilities at home gives L. more privacy, safety, and comfort in daily activities such as showering and using the bathroom
“I am very happy to be free of pain in my legs and can go back to school. I’ve got an opportunity for a brighter future ahead!”, L. happily shared.
ChildFund began working in Vietnam in 1995 and works in partnership with children, their communities and local institutions to create lasting change, respond to humanitarian emergencies and promote children’s rights.