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A home with a sound foundation, roof that keeps rain out, and walls that keep the winds of the winter and the heat of the summer at bay is something many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted.  

When we visit families in rural Vietnam, all too often we see the hardships caused by having inadequate shelter. It is commonplace to see houses lacking proper roofing, instead using thatch or compressed asbestos. Some families live in bamboo shacks or mud houses that can’t cope with the monsoon rains, burning summer sun or freezing winters. Often too, such houses are built on rented land, meaning the threat of eviction is always looming over the occupants.

The stress this causes, coupled with other problems common to living in poverty – not having enough food to eat, not being able to afford to keep your children in school – has a physical and emotional toll on the families that own them. It’s no wonder it’s so hard to break the cycle of poverty when you can’t even afford to put a proper roof over your head.

We have families on a waiting list for a new home.  On average it costs about $3750 to build a new house. Where we can, we ask the family to donate supplies and labor towards the cost of building their home. So far we have enough funds to build 2 Compassion Homes; we need a further $11,250 to build the remaining 3.

Hien and his family are one of our families in need. The task of supporting his family falls to him as he is the only

able bodied person in his household. In a good month, he is able to earn $50 a month; in a bad month he might not work at all so there is very little money left to make vital repairs to their home. Their home is made of clay and bamboo walls, and a tile roof that leaks when it rains. Their tiny plot of lands barely produces enough to feed them, and nowhere near enough to sell. Hien’s dream of being able to build his family a new home remains a long way off.

Duc is a single mother supporting her 4 year old boy. They live in a one room house, which is on the verge of collapse. The roof leaks and the walls are full of holes, which have been patched over with newspaper. They are desperate for a new home, but Duc is unable to afford it. She grows rice for nine months of the year and it is just about enough to feed them. When she can she gets extra work as a construction laborer where she can earn $25 a month. However, because there is no one to care for her son, it is difficult to find work outside her immediate neighborhood.

Bien, Hoa and their 3 children live in a decrepit old house in rural Vietnam. The house was built 12 years ago: it has thinning bamboo and mud walls; a leaky roof patched with tarp. Their kitchen is a bamboo and tarp tent. With little opportunity in the area, the $7 a day that Bien is sometimes able to earn as a construction laborer is barely enough to feed the family, let alone build a new house.

Toi and Tai both suffer from special needs issues: because of this and a lack of education, they are both illiterate. Together they care for three children and Tai’s mother. Tai is able to earn a small income from making conical hats, which together with her mother’s government pension, amounts to $25 a month. Their house has fallen into disrepair. Their roof is leaking, and their walls are cracked and falling apart. Their children have to play on floors made of dirt. The whole building is unsafe and unhygienic.

Thanh is a single mother of 2. Her job as a custodian at a local saw mill earns enough to cover their daily needs. She is currently living in an unused room in a government office. However this is not a permanent living arrangement as she could be forced to vacate the space at any time. Like many of our families in need, she has a small plot of land but lacks the resources to be able to build a house for her family.

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