Building hope in the Mekong Delta

24 Mar

Click to read the full article in Exchange Magazine.

Our eyes locked across a flooded road at the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam. The man was standing in the doorway of his thatched, weary house on the banks of the river and his eyes told the story of decades of hardship. His pants were rolled up to his knees, just centimetres above the level of floodwater that had consumed his entire house.

I was on the other side of the road in the protection of a taxi. I was overwhelmed by the situation unfolding in front of me. Suddenly, the man smiled at me, happy to see a new face and I realised I have an opportunity to make a small difference.

Prior to my Australian Youth Ambassador for Development assignment in Vietnam, I wasn’t aware of how seriously the natural environment threatens the lives and livelihoods of people living in the Mekong Delta, which accounts for twenty per cent of the population. Before my assignment, I had never been to a developing country. Now, having stared into the eyes of an old man across a flooded road, I understand storms, floods and associated issues are affecting thousands of people every day damaging mass production of crops and fish, threatening the quality of surface and groundwater and exposing people to serious illnesses, including malaria and pneumonia.

In my position as Communications and Media Support Officer at Habitat for Humanity Vietnam (HFH Vietnam), I have also seen evidence of how simple, decent and affordable housing can improve the lives of people in the Mekong River Delta and around the country. Decent houses provide stability, improve health, safety and security, and enhance education and livelihoods for individuals and families.

Click here to read the full story on page one in Exchange Magazine.

By Marissa Toohey

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