Building Back Better

CWS Vietnam | October 16, 2017

    Ms Vau and the water tank supported by CWS. Photo: CWS

    In the midst of recent flash flooding in Yen Bai province in north, CWS Emergency Response Focal Person, Mai Thi Quynh Giao and WASH Officer, Nguyen Van Ty, led the CWS assessment teams and then recommended post-relief support to dozens of families who lost their homes in the flash floods. Here are two of their stories:

    Building Back Better

    “Since we have this water tank our family always has enough water to use whenever we need it. Also, I love bathing here at home after working in the field and not having to wait until it gets dark so I can go to the stream for that”.
    – Sung Thi Vau

    Like many H’Mong couples, Sung Thi Vau and her husband made a small wood house and settled to live in a small village near a strong stream in Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai province. They have two sons who, besides taking time and being lucky enough to go to school, often help their parents working in the field. Their life is hard, but peaceful.

    Until one night in early August, when Vau awoke with a start hearing a tremendous sound and then seeing water rushing under her bed! Sung and her husband had just enough time to pull their sons out bed too, and then the whole family ran up the nearby hill. When they looked back, their house was collapsing under the furious flash flood. All they could do was weep at seeing everything, their stored rice and corn, two buffaloes, four pigs and a flock of chickens swept away in an instant. The family was fortunate to stay with their relatives for some time, and thanks for support from relatives and neighbors, they have now made a new house in a safe place on the hillside.

    Water tank for Thao Thi Xay’s family. Photo: CWS

    Life is getting back to normal and CWS support – a simple hygiene kit, initially, and a then 1,000-liter water tank to help them ‘build back better’ as many NGOs try to help people do. Having noted the clear benefits of safe and nearby water storage, Vau was also eager to hear from CWS WASH Officer, Ty, about now to make a sanitary latrine so her family can also stop open defecation and continue positive progress despite all the loss, which will take a long time to overcome, from the flash flood damage and loss.

    Building Back Better, Too

    CWS staff shares emergency hygiene kit with Thao Thi Xay’s family. Photo: CWS

    Thao Thi Xay is 37 and she lives with her three children in Yen Bai province, while her husband works as a day laborer from their remote mountain village. So, in early August, he was not with the family when they lucky to escape from flash floods that devastated their lives. Xay recalls the morning when she heard an unfamiliar rumbling sound and then saw water rise rapidly all around then flood into her house, giving her and her oldest child just minutes to pick up the younger children and take them up a nearby hill to safety.

    From the hillside, Xay could do nothing but cry as she saw the house and all their property swept away. And, having lost everything, she and the children had to take shelter along with many others in a school for more than three weeks. The place was safe, but several families shared each classroom, and there was no place to cook and no clean water except rain water for drinking.

    Still Xay felt that she was fortunate to escape death and then, before too long, her husband was able to return home, and they received help from relatives and outsiders to rebuild a new house in the high mountains. When they had their new house, Xay was even happier when our CWS team visited to share a hygiene kit and also to offer more long-term support – a 1,000-liter water tank, which will help her and the children have a better home life in the future.

    (For more information please contact dung@cws.org.vn )

    This water tank was given by CWS in Vietnam to help a community recover from devastating land and mud slides. Photo: CWS

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