Samaritan’s Purse is helping mothers and children lead healthier, safer lives in Vietnam’s highlands.
Celebrating new life
“I saw my baby. I was so happy,” Vang said.
Vang couldn’t stop smiling when she talked about having her first ultrasound at a local health clinic and seeing images of her unborn child. Although she’s nervous about the upcoming birth, excitement and joy outweigh anxieties for this first-time mother.
Vang lives in the remote highlands of northern Vietnam, a magnificent landscape dominated by towering mountain peaks, brilliant blue skies, and terraced rice fields that seem never-ending.
Yet, these beautiful mountains create a life of isolation. Vang’s village is hours away from the nearest town. Her family, like nearly all families in the highlands, is poor and rely on farming to survive.
“Our lives are so hard here,” Vang explained, “but families help one another.”
Samaritan’s Purse is training traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in northern Vietnam so that mothers-to-be in this remote area will have an opportunity to learn about prenatal and postnatal care—most for the first time. These TBAs teach mothers-to-be like Vang the basics of proper nutrition and how to keep themselves healthy during pregnancy.
Vang talks about her health regularly with the newly trained TBA in her village. Thanks to these conversations, Vang is now going to a local health clinic for check-ups, something she never knew was important. Vang is also taking iron tablets provided by Samaritan’s Purse during her pregnancy.
“I’m happy and thankful that the TBA project came to my village,” Vang said. “I’m nervous about my pregnancy, but I’m grateful for the birth attendant.”
“Our lives are so hard here, but families help one another,” Vang explained.
Vang said because mothers and grandmothers in her village were not taught how to take care of themselves during pregnancy, they didn’t teach their own children. Now Vang is equipped to change that situation.
“Our village is very remote, and people need this information. I can pass this on to the next generation.”
Motivated by love
Lo gave birth to her first child on the side of the road near rice fields. Her husband cut a tree branch to try and shield Lo from the relentless noontime heat.
Her second child was born at home and, like the first baby, had trouble breathing immediately after birth. Lo also experienced complications with the second birth and had to rush to the village clinic.
“I regret I didn’t know what to do to take care of my baby,” Lo said with tears in her eyes. “I don’t want other women to go through the same thing.”
Women in Lo’s remote village usually give birth at home, and medical complications put them and their babies at risk. They have no one to help deliver their babies—they do it on their own.
“No one told us we needed to go to the clinic [to deliver],” Lo explained. “We were not aware of the importance of going to health facilities.”
Lo will soon complete her TBA training through Samaritan’s Purse and become the first traditional birth attendant in her village. She wants to help keep mothers and babies in her village safe and healthy.
The 27-year-old said the training is hard work, and she misses her family during the week while she is at the hospital, but it’s worth it for the opportunity to help save lives.
Lo is no stranger to hard work. Growing up she attended school in the mornings and in the afternoons worked on the farm with her parents.
Lo and her husband work hard as farmers yet they still struggle to provide for their children.
“We both go to work every day. We have no time to rest,” Lo said. “One month after I gave birth I had to carry my baby with me to the field. It’s hard, but we accept that and try our best.”
Orphaned by a flood
Samaritan’s Purse is also working in the Vietnam highlands to love orphaned children in Jesus’ Name. At an orphanage we help support in Lao Cai Province our staff train children in livelihood skills such as gardening, mushroom growing, and pig raising.
Fourteen-year-old Tan has lived at the orphanage for three years. She enjoys watering the vegetables and learning about gardening.
Tan came to live at the orphanage after her parents and three siblings died in a flood. The waters came into their house during the night while the family was asleep. Tan was the only survivor.
“We tried to escape,” Tan said. “I felt so scared. I felt lost.”
Tan is grateful for a safe place to live and for the friends she’s made at the orphanage.
Crossing the border
Poverty in northern Vietnam drives some adults, and even teenagers and children, to cross the border into neighboring countries in search of better jobs and a brighter future. Yet, migration is a deadly risk that can lead to human trafficking.
Samaritan’s Purse is working to decrease trafficking in the highlands by partnering with schools to teach children and teenagers about safe migration. Children need to understand that if they migrate they can be illegally adopted or forced to work long hours without receiving their promised salary.
Linh is an eighth-grader who participated in our safe migration training. The risks associated with unsafe migration are reality for this 14-year-old, who knows people in her village who migrated for work and were never able to return home.
“I know how to protect myself,” Linh said after completing our training. “I know not to go anywhere with a stranger and not to be deceived.”
Linh is the youngest of three siblings and she often helps her mom around the house. She works hard in school. She loves to learn and her teachers say she’s an excellent student. Her favorite subjects are geography and English.
Please pray for the health and safety of mothers and children in poor, remote villages of Vietnam. Pray for our staff as they serve them. Pray that vulnerable people throughout Vietnam will experience God’s steadfast love, joy, and peace that surpasses all understanding.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.