Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Mia Coward, a native Prince Georges County Maryland, is a Graduate student obtaining her Master’s in Public Policy with a concentration in education, social policy, and non-profit leadership at the University of Maryland-College Park. Before taking two years off to get her Master's degree, Mia was a policy associate at Child Care Aware of America working on childcare and early education policy with their advocacy and communications team. She received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College. Mia recently worked with World Vision US in the Child Protection and Education department to intern with their All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Team. She has also worked with organizations ranging from the Intersector Project, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and The Upper Room Global Ministries in Nashville, TN. Her interest includes improving the literacy rate for high poverty communities, influencing equity and inclusion, and grassroots innovation for marginalized communities across the world. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live poetry and trying to new cuisines. -

First Mission… Field Visit

17 Jul

We had planned for me to start visiting the families immediately since so much time had already been lost. Ngoc has it scheduled that we visit at least 3 families a day. I have 3 families to visit today. The first morning we leave at around 8:15am for the first family. In the car that day was Dahlia (AEPD Mines Action Canadian Intern), Ngoc (AEPD Coordinator), Hoang Thu Hien (New AEPD Project Officer), and the driver.  We drive about 30 minutes toward more farmlands than city life to my first family, Le Van Dung and Dang Thi Miet. Around a winding road we pull up to a small but very quaint house. Ms. Miet was smiling when we arrived. She is so small that, at only 5 feet, I am nearly twice her size. She welcomes us in her home, but it seems very quiet based on the previous blogs I have read. I see one boy who seems to be a teenager and I assume that he is the grandson. 

Listening to Ms. Miet talk about her husband’s health struggles

As we sit down, I now see signs of her husband. Later during our conversation, we would find out that he has been in hospital and is scheduled to have surgery in Hanoi. (For more information on this family’s story see their profile). Once we leave, I tell Ms. Miet that I will be praying for her husband’s surgery and their family. I left feeling a little melancholy. I know that we were not able to answer many of our survey questions because her husband was in the hospital and that’s all she could focus on. During the session, I am glad that the Canadian intern Dahlia is there to take pictures during our conversations that day and I ask that she uses my professional camera during the next family visit. We drive about 30 minutes to the next family. In the car I am a tad nervous because this family has suffered hardship. During our last visit, we found out that the son, Tuan, had died. It has been a year since that visit, and I am interested in what the environment will be like. 

Dahlia catches me mid-shot

Passing the open road, we turn down to Pham Thi Do and her family home. As we get out the car we walk toward the husband and wife, who seem distant at first and startled by our arrival. The father has on shorts and t- shirt but immediately goes to put on his uniform from when he was in the military. I can tell he is proud of his service. We take our shoes off as is done every time we enter a home. This family has suffered great tragedy in the past year with the death of their son Tuan. The family still has the altar up in remembrance of him. The emotion in the room is very much different from that of the first family I visited but still quite somber. 

Ngoc prays at the altar before we begin to remember Tuan. We sit down together and begin to talk about all that has happened since the last visit. During our conversation Ms. Do was overwhelmed many times when she talked about her son. As we gained more insight into the conversation, we could tell that she misses him very much as he was the only one to help her around the house and with their daughter. Now that he is gone, she is left to doing everything herself. (Read more about this family here.) 

Conversing with Le Thanh Duc

My last family of the day was that of Le Thanh Duc. This visit was more conversational. After introductions and a few opening questions, Mr. Le Thanh Duc shows us his fish sauce, chickens and ducks and then talks about the possibility of one day owning his own grocery store. The interview ended on a nice note, not being able to promise anything but still giving hope for the future. Tomorrow I will visit more of the families that will answer my survey questions in a different way. 

Posted By Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Posted Jul 17th, 2019


  • Emily

    July 18, 2019


    This sounds like a really difficult, but rewarding, conversation with the family. I can’t imagine suffering what they have lived through.

  • Abby Lahvis

    July 18, 2019


    Wow, it is amazing to listen to these stories. I am excited to see what AEPD and AP can do to help.

  • rachel wright

    July 18, 2019


    I’m glad we got a quick look into some of your field work thus far! Thanks fo sharing the link to the longer story of the first family you met, I’ll be sure to read it as well!

  • Sam Nass

    July 23, 2019


    Awesome to read. I’m glad you’re finally getting to talk to these families about their troubles and experiences.

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