‘My family used to live in an abandoned house.’
It has been two months since Ms. Diem, 45, and her family moved in their new home at the Vietnam POSCO Village. As rejoicing the new lives, the family can now leave behind the memories of living in a deserted house.
Ms. Diem and a POSCO staff in her new home
Diem didn’t own the house. It was abandoned by its owner and Diem asked for permission for shelter. The house with thatch walls and damaged corrugated roof was fairly shabby by the time Diem moved in. There was no running water and an appropriate place for cooking not even to mention a kitchen. It was crammed and stifling so the family had to bear the heat in dry season. Things seemed to be worse when it rained because water came in and made the soil floor soggy.
Had been living in this house for over 15 years, it was a distress for the family yet they had no choice. With a meager income, they couldn’t afford to rent a one-room house let alone build a house.
The main supporter of the family is Phuong, Diem’s husband, 45, who is a seasonal worker for the earnings of about 50,000 VND (US$ 2.4) per day. As Phuong’s mother is sick, Diem stays at home to take care of her as well as the family. The couple has a son and a daughter. The son named Vu, 21, is a mason which brings him a million VND (US$ 48) per month. When there is no construction work, Vu catches crabs to earn money. The daughter Ven, 12, is in grade 3 instead of grade 6 due to the financial difficulty. Spare meals with instant noodle or rice and vegetable were familiar with the family. Sometimes they skipped meals when running out of food.
Having a new home in the Vietnam POSCO village has turned their lives to another page.
The new house is ample and clean and therefore has much less mosquitos. It consists of one living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.
‘We can sleep well at night as it is much cooler,’ said Diem, ‘My mother-in-law had been sick but when she knew about the new home, it made her feel better. She was so happy for us’.
Diem seems to hardly find words to express her appreciation for this valuable support, especially for POSCO volunteers who joined hands to make them a home. Although one week was not long, her family made a connection with the volunteers. The day the volunteers flied back to Korea, they cried. ‘I just want to say thank you to the donor POSCO and Habitat for Humanity Vietnam for helping our family’, said Diem.
The same as Diem, the family of Ms Tam, 35, and Mr Son, 46, are among the 26 households who have moved in their new houses. More than a shelter, the new home offers them with better economic opportunities. With a space in front of the house, Tam and Son have opened a small shop selling groceries for the neighbors to supplement their income.
Furthermore, as having more place to put in an old sewing machine, Tam can earn several hundred thousand VND per month by fixing clothes. They used to rent a one-room house for about 700,000 VND (US$ 33) per month. The 10-square-meter room was sufficient for an old sofa which was also a bed for their daughter Loan, 13 and son Vu, 8. Tam and Son slept on the floor next to the sofa.
‘One of my leg is injured so it’s difficult for me to find a job,’ shared Tam, ‘It used to be only my husband to support our family. I’m glad that now I can help him supplement the income. I also have time to cook meals and take care of the children. The new decent home has brought us with so much blessing. I’m so thankful!’
Ms. Tam and her home small shop
The phase I of the Vietnam POSCO Village project was finished in June with the completion of 26 houses. The phase II has been then started and by the end of the project in February, there will be a total of 85 low-income households to obtain new adequate homes.