There are 54 distinct ethnic groups living in Vietnam, with the Viet (Kinh) comprising about 86% of the approximately 90 million Vietnamese. Hmong is 7th largest of the minority groups totaling nearly 1 million, or just over 1% of the population. They live mostly in the mountainous regions of the north, farming and raising poultry and cattle. They are known for their skills in weaving and cloth dyeing as well as silver jewelry making and basketry. Hands-On Saigon has recently begun assisting several villages of poor Hmong who live in the mountains of Thanh Hoa Province.
Hands-On Saigon traveled far into the mountains of Thanh Hoa Province to distribute warm secondhand jackets and hats as well as new jackets and rubber shoes along with some food stuffs and treats for the children. The weather was unexpectedly cold in the northern provinces of Vietnam during the winter, killing crops and livestock and even some people, so the warm clothing was an especially timely gift.
Above is the last little "town" on the way to the Hmong village. The bridge on the right was for one-way traffic. It felt surprisingly sturdy for what looks like a giant erector set!
Further up the mountains into the unspoiled countryside, young Hmong mothers on foot with babies on their backs were surprised to see visitors. In the hazy distance is the Hmong’s village gathering place.
Curious youngsters waited patiently. (Few Westerners have ever been to their village and even Kinh Vietnamese are an uncommon sight there.) The Hmong young people helped unload the donated new jackets, shoes, treats, and secondhand children's clothing from the car.
There are an unusually large number of albinos in this village. Project Manager Mercy (above left) made friends with this little girl on an earlier visit and later sent her the teddy bear she’s holding. On the right, some of the donated goods are stacked and ready to be distributed.
First things first! Treats for the kids! This was just the first of several villages, so each of the 400-500 children got only a small handful. It was a rare treat and very appreciated.
The Hmong have their own language, but this man, a village leader who helped distribute the sweets, could also speak Vietnamese well, which made communications much easier.
There were lots of secondhand jackets and the kids were organized to facilitate matching up appropriate items with the right size kids as quickly as possible.
This cute little guy arrived naked, but soon was cozy in this nice blue jacket. Before long, the right size pants were found for him too.
The second-hand clothing was very nice quality. Many thanks to donors in Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Sweden and the US! The mothers were especially pleased with the new warm clothing.
Mercy helped rescue the little baby from the grips of the turtleneck! This woman was grateful for something special for her cute granddaughter.
Lots of nice winter hats were sent from Sweden. The hats and secondhand jackets fit the smallest children and the older kids waited for the new, larger size jackets.
These two little ones above received matching jackets, while other happy kids enjoy their special treats.
One of the bigger girls is getting a little help into her new yellow jacket. Other girls got orange or pink jackets, while the boys’ jackets were mostly red. The white rubber slippers, which are sturdy and fairly easy to clean, were especially appreciated by the Hmong as the climate is often wet and the soil muddy.
Here are many of the boys in their new red and black jackets. The weather was quite chilly and the kids were very thankful for their gifts.
This little girl’s mother unzipped her jacket to show the camera the colorful embroidery of her traditional costume underneath. The little boy on the right is another albino child with his funny new hat.
This little one (on the right) is wearing her new warm pajamas. The many warm smiles from the friendly Hmong were their gifts of thanks in return for the items delivered and the care bestowed by the Hands-On Saigon team and friends.