On the north-central coast of Vietnam is Dong Hoi, a city with 12km of beautiful beaches. It is the capital of Quang Binh Province, and a city with a growing economy and population.
However, the region remains one of the poorest in Vietnam. While the national average per capita is $700, in Quang Binh Province the average per capita income is just $400. In search of better opportunities, many young people move to other parts of the country or abroad. Around 500,000 Vietnamese are estimated to be living in other countries. When parents migrate, children are often left behind in the care of relatives.
Women and girls at risk
Human trafficking is an issue across Vietnam, and Dong Hoi is no exception. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked and sexually exploited. They are often promised a well-paying job, for example in a factory, but on arrival are forced to work in the sex trade. According to a UNICEF report, it is estimated that up to 60% of the 45,000 prostitutes working in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, are Vietnamese.
Mothers struggle to protect their children
These difficult conditions mean that families are vulnerable to risks. The United States has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about inter-country adoptions in Vietnam. There have been examples in adoption process where poor, illiterate mothers were made to sign adoption documents, which results in them loosing all rights to their children. Amongst Quang Binh’s ethnic minorities poverty is the highest. There are 24 ethnic groups in the province, and 23 of these groups live in remote mountainous areas. Poverty, illiteracy, high levels of malnutrition and disease, blight their lives, along with limited access to basic services.
Sometimes parents want to put their children into temporary care when they are struggling to provide for them, until their situation has improved. However if parents are deceived, their children could be adopted and sent abroad. Furthermore, mothers may sometimes be persuaded that their children will be better off living abroad with a foreign family.
How is SOS Children helping orphans in Dong Hoi?
In 2006, SOS Children began its work in Dong Hoi due to the great need for family-based care. The idea to support lone children in the region came from the Paris-based association, Aide à l'Enfance du Vietnam (AEVN), an association that has helped Vietnamese children in need. The local authorities donated a piece of land and, thanks to donations raised by AEVN and SOS Children in France, the first family homes were built.
When a child can no longer live with their biological family, they can find a loving home with an SOS Family. The children live with their SOS brothers and sisters, and are affectionately cared for by their SOS Mother. Where possible, we make sure the children can stay in touch with their birth parents, if this is in their best interests.
Young children go to the SOS Nursery, together with children from the neighbourhood. This ensures that they make friends and are integrated into their local community. The children complete their education at local schools, and are supported through their learning journey.
Vulnerable children in Dong Hoi are in need of loving support, and they can find it at our Children's Village. Will you sponsor a child today, and make this possible?