Thanh Nguyen, a journalist I could not believe that I was looking at pictures of the Nui neighborhood in Nha Trang. Nha Trang, Vietnam’s beautiful beach town, which attracts millions of visitors each year, just cannot look like this. But before my eyes, unforgiving, were pictures of crushed metal roofs, fallen electric poles, broken tree branches and rubble. The Nui neighborhood, today. Two years ago, I’d reported on this neighborhood to find out what had been done, or was being done, to improve the living conditions of its residents. Hundreds of houses stood next to the Hon Ro Mountain; all made of wooden planks, iron sheets and nylon covers clumsily thatched together. Most of the residents were poor workers, who’d left their homes from other parts of the country to try and make a living from the sea. In this neighborhood, trash was littered in every alley, vehicles made their way through the trenches and water-worn ravines on flimsy, wobbly wooden planks, and … [Read more...] about Nha Trang tragedy a painful reminder of long-standing neglect
She was all of 10 years old when Men was abandoned by her mother in front of the Saigon Central Post Office in District 1. Men was also blind. After hours, her heart-rending cries caught the attention of the local police. They took her to a nursing home near the Thi Nghe Bridge in Binh Thanh District. Men stayed there for two years, before moving to the Blind Association of HCMC in the same district. She’s been living there for 26 years now. Her days in the association’s dormitory were peaceful, revolving around a single bed and a pet cat named Quay. But Men wanted more. She decided to start her own handicraft business. Stuffed animals, handbags, key chains, artificial flowers... she could make many things. Her work is so remarkably meticulous that even people with sight would have a hard time imitating it. She asked me how to post pictures of her works online. She has a Facebook account for her business, naturally, but for the last two years, no one bought any of her … [Read more...] about In Vietnam, are the blind leading the blind?
Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Vietnam's Natural Resources and Environment There is a Vietnamese folk tale about an old couple who lived in northern Vietnam for 30 years, overcoming together two big storms and five big floods. Though it is a folk tale, its details are drawn from true experiences of northerners. In the modern world, that tale can never be true. The north and north central regions just suffered two storms in two consecutive months, Son Tinh in July and Bebinca in August. The two entered Vietnam almost on the same route, triggering heavy rains in the entire northern and central northern regions, leading to flashfloods and landslides in the northern uplands and then serious flooding in the capital city of Hanoi. Those days when it was raining cats and dogs in Hanoi, I was stuck at home. I could not even call a cab and even if I could, traffic was paralyzed because of the floods. Those days, I slept on many thoughts. I watched TV to catch up on news about the two … [Read more...] about In Vietnam and elsewhere, ‘disaster capitalism’ is at play