In January, Thoa Bui, Holt’s senior executive for southeast Asia, traveled to Vietnam to visit multiple Holt-supported programs. She met with children and families in Holt’s family strengthening program, all who had different stories to tell. Here, she shares the story of a child named *Vi. Through much heartache and many trials, Vi’s family, with assistance from Holt-Vietnam, has stuck together.
By Thoa Bui
Vi’s story is a heartbreaking one. Last year, Vi’s mother was killed tragically and her father was admitted to a psychiatric ward. Vi and her three older siblings were left without parents. Fortunately for the children, Vi’s extended family was determined to care for them. Vi and her older sister went to live with their grandmother, *Hang. Her two other siblings went to live with their aunt and uncle.
Both teachers, Vi’s aunt and uncle have stable incomes and could comfortably provide for the two children entrusted to them. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Hang, who, with a very limited income and additional family members to care for, struggled to provide for Vi and her sister. Still, she took her grandchildren in and did the best she could. “Our dream was to be able to provide for them so that they can grow to be healthy, learn, and play with the other children in kindergarten one day,” said Hang.
Eight family members currently live in Hang’s house. The entire family is dependent on 5 quintals of rice produced every six months on their small piece of land.
Working in partnership with the Government of Vietnam, Holt provides emergency assistance, counseling and the basic financial, nutritional and educational support needed to stabilize struggling households like this. Our goal: To keep families together, and make them stronger.
When Hang’s story was brought to Holt’s attention, steps were taken to help the struggling grandmother.
First, a Holt social worker visited with the family and a plan to generate income was created. The social worker noticed that Hang had a pigsty sitting empty on her land. So the family was provided with a pig. In raising a pig, the family would be able to breed and raise piglets on their own and become self-sufficient.
During my visit, Vi’s grandmother was very excited to show me the pig they were raising and displayed a strong commitment to providing better care for her grandchildren.
In six months, the sow will give birth to piglets, and the family will be able to gain enough profit to buy food, clothes and pay medical fees for the children.
When children lose their parents and extended family members step up to care for them, Holt does all we can to ensure that the family members who have sacrificially opened their home to their relatives receive the support and encouragement they need. Hang’s story is a wonderful example of how Holt’s family strengthening program in Vietnam is changing lives. With the provision of one pig, Vi and her sister will have the opportunity to receive a proper education and get enough to eat. Most importantly, they will be able to remain with their extended family — always a top priority for Holt.