Contrary to children in the city, mountainous children’s living and learning conditions are still challenging and lacking in all aspects. Should you be to the remote highlands and experience life in this remote area, you will probably understand and empathize with the children and local people here.
Quan Hoa (in Thanh Hoa province) is a town in the northern mountainous region - one of the poorest towns in Vietnam. The inhabitants here are mainly ethnic minorities such as Thai, Muong, H'mong, Hoa, etc. People's life here is exceedingly tricky. They live primarily on planting Luong (Dendrocalamus barbatus - a tree of the bamboo family) and fishing on the Ma River. For the reason that the high and dangerous terrain accounts for 95% of the area, it makes travel and transportation to this town much more complex and expensive. Additionally, this place is regularly affected by natural disasters (flash floods, hail, etc.), which is a significant factor making the local people’s living conditions decrease.
Life is hard; thus, making a living is such a big problem for the local people here. Therefore, most families do not have sufficient conditions to fulfill the studying dream of their children. Besides, the schools’ facilities and amenities in these areas are seriously damaged. Indeed, we - BMB Steel were utterly touched when visiting and talking with teachers and children at two schools here.
The first school is Trung Thanh Kindergarten (at the Tan Lap school site) is 10 km apart from the primary school. There are 50 students from 3 to 5 years old. The school has only 3 rooms, including one wooden room that is badly damaged, one-room made from available steel sheets and utilized scrap, so it is not safe in the rainy season.
The second school is Phu Thanh Primary School, 15 km from the central school at the En hamlet site. There are about 50 children, aged from 5 to 10 years old. Most of them are of Thai ethnic minority. The number of classrooms at this time is 4 rooms, two of which are made of temporary bamboo and have been built for a long time.
The resemblance of these two schools is that they are both built from rudimentary and degraded bamboo and plywood. The teaching and learning equipment is straightforward, including a makeshift light bulb, a blackboard, and worn but neatly arranged desks. By virtue of the fact that the natural conditions here are harsh in the cold season, the children have to endure the bone-chilling cold that the bamboo-woven bamboo sheets are not enough to keep them warm while studying. In addition, the terrain is rugged; it is arduous to travel far from the center. Especially in the rainy and stormy season, going to school for teachers and children is even more burdensome.
Despite the difficulty and the lack of things, the children here are still exceptionally innocent and studious. Although the roads are challenging and the family conditions are not good, they do not stop the children from going to school. The desire to study, be literate and get out of poverty has empowered the children to overcome by climbing, passing, and crossing streams to bring back the words for themselves and their villages. Each look, each smile, the way the children attentively watched and read each word from the teacher, etc., were deeply engraved in our minds. These are a vast encouragement for us to find ways to help the children realize their dream of going to school with books and studying in a spacious and well-equipped school like children in cities.
The dream has come true; on April 17, 2021, we - BMB, together with the club "For the children of the highlands" (established by the Youth Union of Thanh Hoa province) coordinated with the People's Committee of Quan Hoa town to organize the ceremony to start constructing 2 kindergarten and primary schools in Trung Thanh and Phu Thanh villages.
On December 1, 2021, we inaugurated and handed over these 2 schools for the local inhabitants. At Trung Thanh Kindergarten in Tan Lap, we built 2 classrooms and a kitchen. At the Ban En Primary School school, we built 2 solid classrooms. The total cost of these two projects is over VND 800 million, of which the BMB Love School Fund sponsors 50% of the total cost; other individuals and organizations sponsor the rest. In addition, BMB also gave some gifts to the children such as speakers, water purifiers, blankets, warm clothes, books, toys, etc.
Witnessing the children's joy when seeing their new clean and beautiful school as well as receiving small gifts, we are exceedingly happy. That feeling is difficult to put into words. As musician Trinh Cong Son said in his art: “Sống trong đời sống, cần có một tấm lòng. Để làm gì em biết không? Để gió cuốn đi” (“Living in life, it is necessary to have a heart. For what do you know? Gone With the Wind"). Love is to give; then we will feel how much life is worth living and how useful it is!
Hopefully, BMB Love School Foundation wishes to do more for society in the future.