A Korean gift for Vietnamese families

Ten families are able to welcome the Vietnamese New Year in decent homes, thanks to Korean student volunteers supported by POSCO

(Clockwise from top left) Tran Kim Xuyen, Bui Hong Thanh and Kim Jina. Photos: Thi Bay Miradoli and Nguyen Thi Thien Thanh/HFH Vietnam.

HO CHI MINH CITY (January 27, 2014) — Seventy-four-year-old Tran Kim Xuyen is looking forward to better health in a new home built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers in southern Vietnam. She used to worry a lot about annual repairs to her old house, made of tin walls, thatched roof and untreated wooden beams. Damage to her house from fallen tree branches and flooding after heavy rains were just some of her problems.

“It was not much better in the dry season as the house is suffocatingly hot,” said Xuyen who lives in Tan Hoa commune, Tan Thanh district in the southeastern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

Things start to look up in January 2014 when Korean and local student volunteers arrived to work on 10 houses during a special build. The 95 Korean students and 20 of their Vietnamese counterparts from local universities were supported by Korean steelmaker POSCO.

The volunteers took time off construction to visit the elderly in an elder care center and present them with gifts for Tet, or the Vietnamese New Year. The volunteers also helped to paint the handrails of a staircase in a high school.

A local volunteer, Bui Hong Thanh, 21, was sad to see the living conditions of those who could not afford a decent place to live. “I cannot support them financially, so I want to contribute my physical effort to help them build a home.” Her enthusiasm spread to her friends who asked how they could join a Habitat build after seeing the pictures which she posted on her Facebook page.

Pictures also painted a thousand words for Kim Jina’s father who worried that the 24-year-old student might not be able to take the hard work. But she did her father proud when she achieved what seemed impossible to her — building a house.

The volunteers’ efforts impressed families such as Xuyen who said she would never forget what they had done. “When they leave, my love is with them,” said Xuyen.

Since 2011, POSCO has been funding projects of Habitat for Humanity Vietnam and supporting builds in Vietnam with a total of 375 Korean and Vietnamese student volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity began working in Danang, central Vietnam, in 2001. HFH Vietnam specializes in implementing integrated shelter, water and sanitation solutions in partnership with local government partners, corporations and others. Other projects include rebuilding homes following typhoons and flooding. To date, Habitat has assisted more than 11,000 families in Vietnam. Get more updates on HFH Vietnam’s