Embassy Volunteers Lend A Hand To HFH Vietnam’s Second Test Build For Carter Work Project

Much Interest In Volunteering Again For CWP In November

HANOI, 7th October 2009: Nearly 70 Hanoi-based diplomats and embassy staffers built with Habitat for Humanity Vietnam recently. The volunteers completed a house which will serve as a model for the construction of 30 houses in the same community that is partnering with HFH Vietnam during the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

(Left) At the end of the day’s work, Habitat home partner Dao Van Tien brought his five-year-old daughter, Dao Thi Vi, to meet the volunteers building their new home.(Right) Volunteer Susan Goldman from the U.S. Embassy found satisfaction in tying rebar in the village community center when heavy rain prevented construction on the house. Photos by Kathryn Reid.

In front of his newly-painted house, Habitat home partner Dao Van Tien (far left) is joined by (from second left) Pham Van Quan and Bob Patterson of the Irish Embassy, Thach Thanh Minh, Habitat construction supervisor, and Irish Embassy staff members Hoang Minh Tu and Mary Prendergast.

Habitat home partner Dao Van Chuc (in blue) worked alongside HFH Vietnam staff (from left) Tran Quoc Tich, Nguyen Phuong Nam, Do Dinh Phuc, volunteer Vic Fasolino (partially hidden) and another HFH Vietnam staffer, Nguyen Van Nguyen.

The volunteers worked together with Habitat home partner Dao Van Tien to build the 36 sq. m. concrete block house over five days in Dong Xa village in Vietnam’s Hai Duong province in the north. The volunteers came from the embassies of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand the U.S., with nearly half of them being Vietnamese. Among the group were four marines attached to the U.S. embassy, several volunteers’ spouses and friends.

The volunteers mixed mortar, laid blocks, plastered, painted and installed the roof and awning. They also transported and stacked about 2,000 concrete blocks.

“Thank you for joining us in a day of building,” said Sara Coppler, interim national director for Habitat for Humanity Vietnam. “Your participation makes a positive difference to a house, a family and a community.”

Susan Goldman from the U.S. Embassy team said: “It’s so satisfying to do something like this where you finish a task and see how it benefits a family.” Other volunteers echoed her sentiment and promised to be back in November for a week of construction.

Commending the volunteers, Habitat home partner Tien said: “They worked very hard and did a good job.” Thirty-one-year Tien grew up in a fishing family. He and his wife, Cao Thi Lan, lived on a boat for many years. Tien re-trained as a mechanic so that his family could move ashore. The couple have a five-year-old daughter Dao Thi Vi and are expecting their second child in two months’ time.

Although Tien is hardworking and often takes on additional jobs as an unskilled construction worker, he earns only about one million dong (US57) per month. Despite being given land by the local government, Tien had been unable to build a house till now. With his new Habitat home, Tien is looking forward to starting a home-based business to be run by his wife.

Earlier, in August, HFH Vietnam completed the first “test” build for the Carter Work Project in Dong Xa village. More than 40 HFH Vietnam staff made and transported concrete blocks, bent steel for drain covers and conducted a survey to determine the condition of the household toilets in the community.

The HFH Vietnam volunteers, including skilled workers, built with Habitat home partner Dao Van Chuc. He and his wife, Vu Thi Gang, share their current living quarters with an adult son, a high school-age daughter and Chuc’s elderly mother. The couple has two other grown-up daughters, of whom one is married and the other is pursuing her studies in another town.