The flower of hope

Thanh and his mother standing in front of their house and orchid garden

At the end of the new cement road at Binh Hanh Trung Commune is a beautiful garden of blossoming orchids. Thanh, 30, standing with a pair of crutches shares about the experience of growing this kind of flower: “Orchids need high humidity and airflow around the roots and avoid heavy watering.”

Ten years ago, an accident on the construction site badly damaged Thanh’s legs. Growing up in poor living conditions, Thanh was an exuberant person and always tried to work dedicatedly to support his family. But the sudden accident took away his zest for life. “He was just 20 at that time and bedridden. The dampness in the house was also not a good condition for my son’s recovery. He seemed to have no motivation to practice for treatment. Gloominess befell us,” Mang, 55, Thanh’s mother recalled with tears in her eyes.

Every day, Thanh stayed in their decaying house made of moldy wood, dried leaves, and old canvas while Mang was outside on the muddy road trying to earn a living on every lottery ticket. One day, Thanh’s friends brought him an orchid flowerpot, which rekindled his spark of life. Thanh gradually could move around with the support of equipment and planted the orchid garden by himself. But delivery was a significant hindrance to his business because the only way to his house was a damaged road that Thanh simply could not ride his three-wheel bike.

In 2021, a new 1,200-meter-long road was built in Hamlet 1, Binh Hang Trung Commune with the support of the project “Empowering resilience communities through housing community-driven PASSA”. PASSA (Participatory approach Safe Shelter Awareness) is a tool that strengthens both the “software” (knowledge and skills within the community) and the “hardware” (physical improvement of housing and infrastructure). It is a powerful approach to employ when working towards increased community resilience through promoting community involvement in decision-making and management of disaster preparedness. The road was the decision of the people in the village when identifying the important infrastructure for them in disaster risk management and livelihoods improvement. Situation on low-lying land, Hamlet 1 often gets flooded during the rainy season, so the road serves as an evacuation road for 50 families in this family to move to safer places. And for the disadvantaged like Thanh, the road not only helps his business develop but more importantly connects him with his community again.

Furthermore, Mang is also an active member of the PASSA group in Hamlet 1. “Having taken part in the training, I gained knowledge on climate change and safe housing” Mang shared, “Since the training, I cannot stop thinking of how fragile and dangerous my house is. So I took loans from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies to repair my house safer. Now I’m also convincing my sister to fix their house for her family’s own good.”

Orchids blossoming in Thanh’s garden


The newly-built road in front of Thanh’s house, helping him transport easier


About the project: The two-year project “Empowering resilience communities through housing community-driven PASSA”, funded by DFAT through Habitat Australia, aims to develop approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) which foster community involvement in decision-making and management of disaster preparedness, and improve housing conditions for the most vulnerable populations in Quang Nam and Dong Thap provinces.


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