Wooden walls and a tin roof – this is the last line of defence; all that stands between torrential rains, rising floodwater and a young family with disability.
Minh* is 4 years old, has Cerebral Palsy and lives with her grandmother in a small wooden house in Duy Xuyen district, Central Viet Nam. Her gran is 46 years old and a single-mum to a young son from a previous marriage. Minh’s father died young, in a road accident (a common cause of death in Viet Nam) and her mum was unable to cope with raising her alone. Gran became her “mum” and she keeps a roof over their heads, and food on the table, by growing vegetables to sell at the local market.
The family has just spent 3 days surrounded by filthy floodwater, huddled on top of an old wooden table. They ate there. They slept there. For these 3 days, they went without any proper food – surviving on dried instant noodles. Gran called the emergency services and asked them to bring food. Unfortunately they were unable to reach her home as access was by means of a flimsy bridge over the swollen river that could not be safely crossed.
Flooding is not a rare occurrence for this family and many others like them. It’s an annual event. However, this last couple of weeks has seen the devastating, cumulative effect of not one, but three separate storms, wreaking havoc across the region. According to the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority, more than 135,000 households in Central Viet Nam have been affected by flood waters of up to 2 metres high.
As the flood water subsides, the clean-up begins and so the return to “normal” life. It’s back to regular physical therapy sessions for Minh. 3 times a week, she rides on the back of her gran’s old Honda motorbike for the 45-minute journey to our school. This trip is particularly perilous at this time of year as many of the roads are extra dangerous and often impassable. Minh’s cognitive ability is normal but she will not be accepted into a mainstream Government school unless we can improve her physical mobility.
Education and therapy services are essential tools to help break the cycle of poverty. Kianh Foundation is that lifeline to at-risk families of children with disability in Dien Ban, Central Viet Nam.
* Name changed to protect the child and family’s identity
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