Education is the route out of poverty for many children. It gives them a chance to gain the knowledge and skills needed to improve their lives. Children miss out on school because their families need them to earn money. But by sacrificing their education, they become trapped in a cycle of poverty. In many communities we work in, children are at least three times more likely to be out of school. Habitat Vietnam believes that a safe and decent home can reduce economic pressures on families, allowing children time to attend school rather than being forced into work at a young age.
Dung, 56, his wife Kinh, 50, and two sons Toan, 24, and Tien, 22, used to live in a dilapidated house for as long as they remember. The family was amongst the poorest households in Dong Thap province, Vietnam. They had to squeeze into a small one-room house, and sharing a old, smelly, unhygienic toilet.
Dung recalls their challenging living conditions: “The simple house consisted of wooden boards, iron sheets in the roof and walls and a brick floor. It was decaying quickly, and was not a safe place to live, especially during the storm season”.
The family primarily depends on a humble income of Ms. Kinh – Dung’s wife, from raising fish and pigs. However, she just had surgery for ovarian cancer, adding further stress to their already difficult financial situation. Dung earned less than $120 a month as an informal temporary worker.
Their dream of a bright future for their children seemed almost impossible.
In 2018, everything changed.
Through the support of Habitat Vietnam, Dung, Kinh and their sons built their new dream home alongside a team of volunteers. Immediately, their thoughts turned to the education that was now within reach for their sons and would end the cycle of poverty they had been destined for.
This now meant the small income they earned needn’t be spent on essential and urgent house repairs. It would be enough to pay school fees and buy education materials such as books and pencils. Even the long-term investment of a university education and a brighter future.
Just a year after moving into their Habitat home, Dung’s dream of a stable and prosperous life for his family has gradually been fulfilled. Tien has completed his Diploma in Automobile Engineering and is now serving an apprenticeship in an established car garage in Ho Chi Minh City. Then late last year, Toan graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography.
“It was a good thing that we were able to move to a new, safe shelters. With no worries on housing, we now focus on livelihood, job opportunities and daily care of the family” Dung said joyfully.
Tien and Toan are the first generation in their family to graduate from college. The potential that a new home can unlock for families and future generations is truly an amazing and powerful thing.
We believe that with a decent home, parents no longer need to worry about spending money on constant repairs, paying expensive rent or be burdened with the threat of forcible eviction. Instead, they can focus on giving their children an education and a world of new possibilities. A safe home means a clean, dry and well-lit place for children to do their homework, and less illness so fewer school days are missed and they are provided a clear path to a brighter future.
Children video for Toan and Tien’s inspiring journey: