In Tien’s mind, she does not know how to pronounce Grant Thornton correctly; however, she is mindful of holding every good memory she had got with the volunteers from “Gờ-Tê” (*the way she pronounced GT in Vietnamese).

Tien House 3

When first encountered the new house built by her own hands and the volunteers, she found a sheer bliss. The new house has heralded a new page of life with the likelihood of stability. “I work endlessly without thinking that we would have a nice house like this. The only thing I could think of is how to make ends meet for daily living,” shares Tien, 33. With the mason’s monthly income of around 3 million VND (127 USD), a house at that time was beyond her reach. Now her income rises up to 4,5 million VND (191 USD) per month.

In her memory, an owned house she has been living for years was dilapidated of improper roof and floor. The house covering around 20m2 consisted of rotted materials while the floor was soiled. The substandard roof with holes allowed for raindrops to enter causing high humidity and a favorable environment for mosquitoes. Tien recounts that the highest peak of the rainy season could be daunting for finding any better places to sleep, especially when the flood submerged up to 1m tall. That is why hardly does Tien think those kind of difficulties happened a year earlier, before Grant Thornton team volunteered to build the new house with her family.

Tien house

According to Tien, she is impressed by the proactive acts and fast-moving integration from the volunteers. Thanks to Habitat’s engagement, she could communicate with the team and become close to them even though their stay in the build did not last longer than 4 days. “I wandered around with them very frequently. I knew some construction techniques so I could work with them. We were a close-knit team,” says Tien. “When they began to depart, I also began to cry. Seeing them work harmoniously and willing to live under our living conditions makes me feel emotional”.

For her, it was the period worth reminiscing. And now, new settlement still awaits her. Thanks to the new house, she feels less worried a bit as it is a disaster-resilient house. This nicely-painted one is covered with concrete walls, new iron sheets roof sustained by steel-made frames. There also has a solid attic, which can protect the family from heavy storms and floods happening frequently as this is a disaster-prone area. “Owning a house like this means significantly to us. I am no longer scare of anything else because now my children Toan, 11, and Y, 3, can stay indoors and feel warm. I used to feel deplored seeing mother and kids being cold because of big wind and torrential rain,” tells Tien.

Grandma Tien family

At the moment, they have not yet installed the learning corners for her children but roomy space comforts her a lot. Her mother Ngung, 65, can also have a relaxing place to rest and prevent from the chronic bronchitis resulted in the inclement weather and the previous living conditions. Tien is currently the only breadwinner of the family and thus, she is still coping with financial difficulties. However, having a sturdy house weighs down her burdens a lot. After a hard-working day, she can come back home and see her children smile happily in a spacious, clean house. Her family is all her life, she shares. Watching her children grow and playing with them is the only thing she has ever wanted to see on the daily basis no matter what a tiring and doomed day is.

“At the moment, we feel nothing completely satisfied but this beautiful house. We are still struggling with the unstable livelihood. We are using our own usable water and sanitation facility detached from the house, but we are planning to have the indoors bathroom in the future. The house is what we need but if with a bathroom, it would perfectly reflect a house I dreamt about,” she says.

Before we close the conversation with her, she wants to message endless thanks to the volunteers who visit Vietnam and build her wonderful house. She still keeps many souvenirs given by some members of the team and the group photo, framed and hanged nearby the stairs.

“I feel extremely thankful and grateful to have a cozy shelter like this. Thank you so much for such a wonderful dedication,” Tien smiles.

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Tien House 3

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Ha Noi

Address: Room 203, E3 Building, Trung Tu Diplomatic Compound, 6 Dang Van Ngu, Dong Da Dist, Hanoi
Phone: +84 (04) 3715 2615 - Fax: +84 (04) 3715 2614

Phu Tho

Project name: Improving shelter security, health and disaster resilience in Phu Tho province
Project length: February 2015 - June 2016
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH
Beneficiaries: 41 households; 3 local authorities, 500 teachers and students and additional 100 villagers via training
Donor: Habitat for Humanity Australia
Budget: US$ 110,000

Thai Nguyen

Project name: Low-income housing, water and education in Thai Nguyen province
Project length: November 2014 – October 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH
Beneficiaries: 92 households; 210 community members and local authorities via training and 1000 students via equipment of IT classroom
Donor: Samsung
Budget: US$ 225,000

Hoa Binh

Project name: Improved housing and WASH for low-income households in Northern Vietnam
Project length: January 2014 – June 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH
Beneficiaries: 80 ethnic minority households; 5 local authorities and additional 200 community members via training
Donor: Evonik Industries
Budget: € 120,000

Quang Nam

#1
Project name: Building Disaster Resilient Communities
Project length: March 2014 - December 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH, CBDRM
Beneficiaries: 65 households; 200 local masons and 1200 local authorities and community members via training
Donor: Habitat for Humanity Australia
#2
Budget: US$ 204,237
Project name: Safe community in disaster-prone Quang Nam
Project length: July 2014 – June 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH, CBDRM
Beneficiaries: 56 households; additional 90 community members via training
Donor: Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco
Budget: US$ 127,040

TP. Ho Chi Minh

Address: 53/10 Tran Khanh Du, District 1, Tp. Ho Chi Minh
Phone: +84 (08) 3526 5005 - Fax: +84 (08) 3526 5323
Email: info@habitatvietnam.org

Tien Giang

Project name: Nine Dragons – Phase 2
Project length: October 2013 – September 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH, CBDRM
Beneficiaries: 208 households; 10 local authorities and additional 330 community members via training
Donor: AusAID and Habitat for Humanity Australia
Budget: US$ 217,641

Long An

Project name: Housing upgrade in Long An province via Microfinance partnership
Project length: March 2015 – August 2015
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH
Beneficiaries: 22 households; 75 community members and local authorities via training
Donor: P&G
Budget: US$ 64,874

Ba ria - Vung Tau

Project name: POSCO 3
Project length: September 2014 - February 2016
Project purpose: Shelter, WASH
Beneficiaries: 85 households
Donor: POSCO
Budget: US$ 507,475