A fashionable young lady on the river bank in Hoi An.
They say children are happy for the most part, no matter the environment in which they are raised. With loving parents and a safe home, education, and the creature comforts we all expect, children grow and thrive where their families choose to live and work.
Vietnam is a very small country, roughly the size of New Mexico, and home to 66 million people. Despite being a rapidly developing country, there is a widening gap between the urban rich and the rural and ethnic poor. Large pockets of acute poverty, malnutrition, high mortality and low levels of education exist.
A young boy outside his family's restaurant.
With no wish to get into a political and humanitarian debate here, climbing on a soapbox to try and right the wrongs of this often sad world is not what my blog is about. However, I was at times quite disturbed when I saw how the lives of some of the beautiful children in southern Vietnam teeter on the edge of tragedy.
Minding the store.......................learning retail (which is a gigantic employer of every age group - never seen so many shops) at a very early age.
River boats, often family homes, transporting tourists and locals through Hue's waterways.
These were the children of the family who live permanently on this actual boat which we took on a very wet day........as it was a Saturday the boy was not in school and was spending his time with his sister. I saw no toys or books to help pass the hours for these two beautiful children on board their home and only playground.
This family lived a very simple life on their small river 'dragon boat' home...........dad at the helm, mother trying to eke a living from selling a myriad of goods to tourists.
The prices were small, her efforts to sell were difficult to refuse. She modeled silk blouses and pajamas, draped robes around our shoulders, even tied a skirt around my waist. Thoughts of having to purchase yet another piece of luggage loomed so buying more than a just a few items was out of the question. I felt guilty.
Pity is a word which always sounds miserable. Perhaps misery to us is much different than what is perceived in situations such as this. I first felt it in an African village last year, and was then made to see that the children were happy with their lives because they knew no other.
Her smile as we left the boat was comforting. Knowing we had perhaps helped put a nourishing meal on the family table that day was good................
................but I think about these children daily, hoping and praying their childhood floating on the murky river will be safe. I hope that sooner rather than later the government of Vietnam will do more to help these people have a better future by providing more advanced education, cleaner conditions, a safer infrastructure, and pensions for the people in the south as well as the north. I felt the love of family in these hard working people and they deserve more assistance. I feel strongly that all these children deserve a better, safer life.