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.
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.
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.)
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