Celebrating International Women’s Day:
A Compassion Home Offers a Foundation for a Good Education for a Young Vietnamese Woman

Tam Nguyen peers over the paper nervously as she reads a statement on behalf of her family at the handover ceremony recently held in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. She thanks her community, Study Promotion Association (SPA), Women’s Union, district and provincial officials and East Meets West Foundation for their support to build a new family home in Thanh Hoa I Hamlet, Tam Dam Commune, Phu Ninh District. The building of the house has been a community affair with financial and in-kind contributions of cement, labor, and even drinking water. Tam endearingly thanks Mr. Trinh or Uncle Trinh, the chairman of the commune SPA for his moral and financial support.

Tam and her family 2
Tam and her family

The home is clean, bright and inspiring. The raised foundation and modified roofing were all elements added by East Meets West Foundation, as part of the climate resilient housing design. As the Project Coordinator,  Mr. Ho Quang Minh Tung explains,  these design features were incorporated to ensure the house will withstand the floods and level 10-11 storms, which have become regular occurrences in many districts in Quang Nam province in central Vietnam, owing to climate change.

In her emotional speech, Tam explains what this support has meant to her family. Her father and uncle suffer from mental health issues, which leaves both of them unable to work. They require medication, which costs the family a considerable amount of money each month. Her mother also has developmental impairments and can only work part-time.

Tam herself, while a full-time student in the University of Quang Nam, must work two part-time jobs to help the family and take care of her brother, Van Tuan, who stands next to her as she reads. He is a composed and well-behaved ten-year-old who attends grade five at the local school. Van Tuan, like many young boys, enjoys playing soccer and is a fan of the Vietnam national football team.

Their old dilapidated house is just behind the new one. It is a wonder that Tam managed to study and win two scholarships to Hue and Quang Nam Universities under such challenging conditions.  She decided to go to Quang Nam University, which is closer, and used a proportion of her scholarship to cover the family’s contribution for the new house. Tam sacrificed the option of student housing to stay and support her mother. In return, she must work in the evenings, study late into the night and wake up early to travel the long distance to the University.

Tam completes her speech and smiles, and to the surprise and pride of everyone, she then delivers her speech again in English.  It is clear from her words in both Vietnamese and English, that this is more than just a house she is thankful for. It offers Tam and her family a new start, a strong and safe foundation for the future. 

East Meets West Foundation celebrates the achievement and resilience of Tam Nguyen, her mother and the many other women and girls like them.

East Meets West Foundation, in cooperation with District and Communes People’s Committee, and other  local community partners, have constructed 10 new houses and rehabilitated two houses in Quang Nam Province thanks to the generous contributions of donors. For every USD 2,500 provided by East Meets West Foundation, another USD 2,500 is mobilized locally. Local benefactors also provide building materials, furniture, beds, appliances and moral support.  Each new house includes a hygienic and private toilet and shower to ensure women and girls have safe, and sanitary facilities.