Hands on Saigon, Vietnam
“We first visited the Can Gio (CG) district of Vietnam in 1997 together with a group of friends and young students,” shares Lisa Wurr of FCF partner project Hands on Saigon.
“Our purpose was to bring needed material to some very poor schools and families. In the years since, we have continued to collect funds and needs for CG, ranging from rice and other foodstuffs, to schoolbooks, clothes, and school uniforms. Sponsorship also enabled us to build and stock a small library and new kitchen in a boarding school catering to children from the poorest families."
CG is located on the Saigon river delta, where the groundwater is salty and most of the vegetation consists of water palms and bushes and not much else. To add to their challenges, the area was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange during the war so the food chain and eco system is loaded with dioxin.
So people try to collect and drink rain water, the wealthier have built concrete water tanks to store rainwater. For most though, tanks are expensive and out-of-reach economically. Small tanker ships that bring water to sell to the locals offer the only other drinking water alternative.
But for the poor, they have no choice but to default to river water. The pollutants and waste from millions of people upstream mix into this water that is used by the poorest downstream.
Hands On Saigon received a grant from Family Care Foundation, and along with sponsorship from a women’s organization, constructed 100 water tanks, giving access to clean water for some of the poorest families in CG.
“Our Water Tank project isn’t a complete solution by any means,” Lisa says. “But Vietnam has a fairly robust amount of rain so the tanks do stay full for up to 8 months of the year. A more comprehensive solution is needed, but until that happens at least this project helps hundreds of poor families to now have access to healthy water.”