Asiatica Travel is running a project called “Community Development Assistance” to help increase development capacity for ethnic groups in northwest Vietnam. At the meantime, we are focusing on helping children in remote mountainous villages in Cao Bang and Ha Giang provinces, major destinations of our trekking tours.
As travelers, you can join us too. Every booking with us will add 2 USD to the project fund. Donations of unwanted clothes, books and toys are welcome and warmly appreciated. You can also take part in our regular mission trips to these hill tribal communities.
En Co is an isolated hamlet in the remote Bao Lam District of Cao Bang Province, Northwest Vietnam. It can be reached only by motorbike via a narrow winding hillside trail that becomes very dangerous during rainy days.
Lying at an altitude of 1900 meters above sea level, En Co is subject to harsh climate: hot in daytime and cold at night. In winter, devastating frog destroys most crops and trees.
En Co is home to 38 households with 135 inhabitants of Nung, Tay and Hmong ethnic group. Most of them live on stilt houses with living area on first floor and spaces for animal right below.
En Co people are in extreme hardship and poverty. They eke out a living out of one rice crop on terraced fields and intermingled crops of corn and beans. Due to low productivity, however, most families endure severe famine during winter.
Suffering from serious malnutrition and children right abuse, children are those hardest hit. Books and schools are luxury to them as they are too busy with helping parents earn a living or taking care of younger siblings. Even if they are allowed to go to school, they usually quit soon due to lack of money and other necessary resources.
Our actions for En Co
With local insights, we decided to choose En Co as the first target community for our local empowerment initiative. A Community Empowerment Commission of Asiatica Travel (Uy Ban Ho Tro Cong Dong) was established with clear mission and action programs.
This project is funded by our company’s profit and contributions from our staffs. Projected yearly fund is 100 million dong and still increasing. A third of the fund is allocated to buy new mosquito nets, books, clothes, shoes, toys and milk for children.
Thorough research on local economic, social and cultural background was done during our trips to En Co early 2011. We called for donations of books and clothes during July and from August 26 to August 28, a mission trip to En Co was carried out. The team included Mr. Dang Phong, our managing director, and 8 other members from operational, sales, accounting and marketing departments.
We arrived in En Co at night and had one day left for all activities. A communal gathering was arranged in the morning and all donated goods were passed onto En Co people. Each household was provided with one mosquito net, two sets of adult clothes, 2 sets of children clothes as well as one set of toys and 4 milk packs. Our managing director also gave a short speech on the purpose of our program and called for cooperation from local side.
During afternoon and evening, we visited 8 families as invited. We exchanged some stories and talked enthusiastically on how to improve the living conditions of people here: what they need and what we can work together to create a better future for them, especially for the children. After the visits, our team almost got drunk due to their hospitality tradition of treating guests with several cups of rice and cassava wine. Happily, that also meant they have made us their close friends and partners, a very good news for our further cooperation for local development.
We are looking forward to engaging deeper in community development initiatives in Cao Bang province and extending our project scale to other remote districts around Ha Giang, Lao Cai and Son La provinces in near future.