By Nguyen Van Ty, CWS Program Officer, and Leslie Wilson, Asia Regional Director.
Like many other schools in rural mountainous areas in Vietnam, the very remote Ta Mung kindergarten has an even more remote satellite school in Lun village where, amazingly, almost 100 pre-school children aged 3- to 6-years old come to learn and play for the whole day for five days each week. The school staff cook lunch for all the children every day, too, and this used to be a challenge because of the large number of children needing to be fed while the stove was just several iron bars atop some stones in a bamboo hut that served as a kitchen. Can you imagine the danger – not just from a possible fire but from the smoke that made the food taste bad? Also, the ash and smoke reached the young pupils and their teachers in classrooms nearby.
In the scope of ongoing work with government and donor partners to supporting rural ethnic minority communities in improving their daily lives is as many ways as possible, the CWS Vietnam team was happy to work with the Ta Mung and Lun village kindergarten teachers to change this situation. And, besides helping make the kitchen safe with bricks, a metal roof and tile floor, CWS team members also introduced and helped build an improved stove. It still uses firewood, but has a closed oven with a brick chimney; now, cooking is more efficient and, importantly, the stove doesn’t send polluting smoke and ash toward the classrooms.
Once these small but important changes that the village could not have made on their own were done, Ms. Lo Thi Phen, the school caretaker, said: “The new stove is so good! It is very clean, helps us cook faster and it saves us a lot of firewood, too. I am very happy, especially because the smoke does not hurt our eyes like it used to”. While visiting the kindergarten recently, Mr. Ha Van Dinh, who had lived in Lun village his whole life was also surprised. “This is the first time I have seen such a good stove that requires less firewood and has no smoke. I want to make one for my family, too”. The CWS team was happy to hear this, and will work with anyone in Lun village, and beyond, to help them improve their lives while saving trees, too!
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