What We Do: Our Current Program

Education Support


Basic Necessities

The greatest challenges faced by children from the most remote mountain villages trying to stay in school are very basic. The Education Support we help provide is also very basic, including the necessities of access to food, water, shelter, clothing, and health care. See photos and complete details below.


Food

“The type of assistance Minors provides, such as rice scholarships and food raising projects, aimed at the very poorest and at-risk students, has been successful year after year in keeping those children from dropping out of school”.- Mr. Tran Ngoc Hung Deputy Chairman, Viet Nam Association of Education Promotion, Dien Bien Province

Fish, fowl, animal and vegetable raising projects and training are supported by Minors to provide sustainable nutrition for boarding students at the commune schools, whose diet is often only the hill corn or rice they can carry once a week from home, and greens foraged. As of this year Minors has supported Food Raising Projects at 134 schools in the northern mountains of Viet Nam.

Boarding students bring their own food, usually only corn or rice, and cooking pots from home
As of 2014 Minors has provided 2,907 Rice Scholarships
For exceptionally poor children who are faced with leaving school to help their parents forage between crops, we provide rice scholarships which enable these boys and girls to remain at school until the end of the term.
When food from home runs out, and not enough rice scholarships to go around, very hungry boarding students, like these youngsters in northern Ha Giang province, will miss school to pan for gold all day for less than a dollar. Other students sift soil by hand for tungsten or antimony ore*.
Asked whether these students were dropping out of school completely, a teacher commented, "These poorest students sometimes do not attend class for a few days, but then they return to school - they don't give up."
*Tungsten is used in fiber optical systems, photo printers and runway markers, microwave ovens, computer cooling systems and x-ray tubes, and LCD panels.
Tungsten compounds have caused breathing problems and changed behavior in some animals given large amounts of tungsten compounds.
There is not enough information to determine whether inhalation, oral, or dermal exposure to tungsten or tungsten compounds can cause cancer in humans. Tungsten has been recommended to the National Toxicology Program (NTP) for testing in laboratory animals, which includes a cancer assessment.
Children may be affected in the same way as adults. We do not know whether children differ from adults in their susceptibility to tungsten. Animal studies have shown that tungsten can pass from the maternal blood through the placenta and reach the fetus.
Antimony is used in alloys, especially with lead in battery plates, and in the manufacture of flame-proofing compounds, paint, semiconductor devices, and ceramic products.
Extended exposure to antimony can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs. Breathing antimony for extended periods can cause problems with the lungs (pneumoconiosis), heart (altered electrocardiograms), as well as stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach ulcers. - CDC

Boarding students at Lo Van Gia Junior High School, Phong Tho , Lai Chau
At a center for orphaned and abandoned children
Junior High boarding students growing their food at Tuan Giao District, Dien Bien
Limited garden space outside the classroom, a common challenge in the mountains
The garden and beehives with food raising project in Pa Thom Junior High School
Deposits and Withdrawals at the Minors' Buffalo Bank, Branch at Tan Tien Commune, Bach Thong District, Bac Kan
Minors' Cow Bank provides support for orphaned and other severely disadvantaged students at risk of dropping from school; So far 553 cows and buffaloes have been provided, throughout Laos and Viet Nam, not to mention porkers.

Boarding students gather cooking fuel from increasingly distant sources, expending time away from studies, and encountering considerable risks and hardships in their never ending quest for firewood.

To date we have implemented ten biogas projects, initially at two orphanages, and now eight schools; all projects so far are in Ha Giang and Lai Chau Provinces.

The manure from the pigs and cows being raised by the children (previous support from The McKnight Foundation) at the schools and orphan centers is combined with the output of the children and teachers as well, and the methane produced is used as cooking gas.

This saves a significant amount of time, energy and wood.


"Through this project, students in Nam Xe school have been cooking by gas supplied by the system, saving hundreds of kilograms of wood each month. .......this project gives the students an understanding of the production process and storage of Biogas, sanitation, use of clean water, and our garden (for boarding students) has improved with the natural fertilizer for plants and vegetables." - Mr. Nguyen Vuong Hung, Deputy Head, Division of Education and Training , Phong Tho District, Lai Chau Province

The Way In: Tank Construction

Where the system begins to produce methane; the newly constructed holding tank where the cow shed's manure will combine with the contribution of the school / orphanage toilets. This system is at Lo Van Gia Jr High School at Ban Lang, Phong Tho District in Lai Chau Province.

Biogas tank under construction at Nam Xe Junior High School in Phong Tho District, Lai Chau Provinc This is the first school to request and receive this type of sustainable support from Minors
Manure holding tank under construction at Dao San Junior High School, also in Phong Tho District

The Way Forward: The supply chain

Cows head to the shed to make their donations to the biogas system

The way up: The journey begins

When the methane forms there will be enough pressure for the gas to flow out of the holding tank when needed and begin its journey to the kitchen.
Tube carrying methane heads towards the kitchen, back past the shed and toilets where it all began at Na Nhan Jr. High School in Dien Bien District, Dien Bien Province

The way back: Returns to the scene

End of the green line, at Na Nhan Junior High School kitchen
The biogas burning clean in the kitchen at Nam Xe school Phong Tho, Lai Chau

The Way Down: The process begins anew

Boarding students eat where they can find space



Water

As of 2014, Minors has provided or improved Water Systems at 134 highland schools.

Along with cold temperatures, a chronic shortage of water in many mountain commune schools is the greatest challenge to overcome trying to keep children, especially girls, from the most remote villages in school.
Even large rainwater storage tanks run dry every school year, resulting in many boarding students dropping out and return home. In this rocky terrain wells are impractical. For one short-term solution at this and a neighboring school, please see Fog Fence, above.
A low well at a school in Bac Kan
Boarding students return to school with water. This school in Tua Chua District has no water in the dry winter months.
During Minors' project site visit in Ha Giang a teacher returns with a load of water for the boarding students and other teachers who stay at the school. During late winter even the nearby streams run out, so long distance fetching is the only alternative until the monsoons arrive late in the school year.
Primary students head down the road for water, a dangerous daily routine on this narrow mountain road in Meo Vac District of Ha Giang Province,
Water remains one of the most crucial needs of most schools and dorm students. All available containers.
Local Hmong women and girls bring water for the commune boarding students
Boarding students help out with construction of Minors' supported water system near their school, in La Pan Tan Commune, in Muong Khuong District, Lao Cai Province.. Photos above by our local partner, the District Department of Education and Training.
Water system at Lo Van Gia, Ban Lang
Minors together with local partner contribution, supported this Complete Water System: Well, Pipes, Pump and Tank, at Binh Trung High & Middle School, Cho Don District, Bac Kan Province.
Well and pump supported by Minors for boarding students at Primary School C, and at the Junior High School in Tung Ba commune - Vi Xuyen District, in Ha Giang.

Photos by Minors' local partners, the provincial Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DELISA).
Gravity flow system, storage tank near Mu Sang Commune, Phong Tho Lai Chau
Minors' tank convoy prepares to deploy to Dien Bien. What could possibly go wrong?
At a high school dormitory in Lai Chau
Water system at a kindergarten in Bac Kan, with accompanying veggies
Latrine lockout: These school toilets are out of water, and so out of commission, until the monsoons. They requested Minors support for water source development.
Toilets at mountain schools often fall into disuse for lack of water. Some are pressed into other services, such as a dry place to store kindling in winter-little chance of getting wet in the toilet, ironically.

Minors supported construction of Fog Collection Fences at schools in Dong Van District in far northern Ha Giang province, where there are severe water shortages over the winter months.

Both collectors' dimensions: 4 x 12 meters, on foggy or misty mornings, each produce 120 liters of water over 24 hours, and are in use for water sources from October to April.



Shelter

“Because these students now have proper accommodation, blankets, warm clothing, cooking and cleaning supplies, parents have more peace of mind when letting children go to stay at school far away from home”.-Mr. Tran Quang Phuong, Former Head, Division of Social Protection, Dep’t of Labor, Invalids & Social Affairs of Ha Giang Province

This support includes construction of basic dormitories, water systems, toilets and provision of blankets, mosquito nets and warm clothing, as well as student supplies. Most recently this has also included Kindergarten construction.

Student built dorms in Bac Kan
Parents built dorm at Xin Man, Ha Giang
All girls dorm built by their parents in Lao Cai
Student built Dormville, East Dien Bien
A bed at a Primary School Dorm, in Tuan Giao District, Dien Bien Province
A student finds a warm spot to study in the teachers' dorm in Muong Nhe District, Dien Bien Province

Studious primary boarders at Bat Xat, Lao Cai
Girls' Room in a dormitory built by their parents, allowing these girls to be the first from their village to attend school beyond first grade. Other Pioneers from previous years are pictured in our Galleries.
These primary boarding students prepare lunch, sleep and attend class all in the same room.
The dormitory for these students is the loft above the classroom, and due to crowding it is also where they sit for class.
Limited space means kindergarten class is in the teacher's dorm room.
No room at the dorm, these girls board at the local family planning clinic, near a middle school in Phong Tho District, Lai Chau.

Construction support with local partner contribution: Classrooms Dormitories Kindergartens Kitchens

As of June, 2014 Minors and local partners have constructed dormitories, kindergartens, and renovated classrooms at more than 100 schools, mostly in remote mountainous areas of 15 provinces of Laos and Viet Nam
High Risk Management:
Minors supported construction of a dormitory to replace this dorm (above,left) perched between a road and the cliff's edge as it was at high risk from a variety of threats. A few weeks after completion of the new dorm (above,right) at a lower elevation, the mountain side gave way at the very location of the now very former dorm.

For views of other landslides that cross our paths, please see Roads Gallery.
Minors' first dorm for girls, (and to the right the old boys'dorm) in Dong Van District, Ha Giang. All students at this school are ethnic Hmong. With safe and secure shelter many more girls from the most remote villages were allowed by their parents to enroll and stay in school; with additional support of a water system, girls boarding the next school year outnumbered boys.

Opening day for a newly constructed dormitory at a junior high school in Tuan Giao District, Dien Bien. The building at far left is the former dorm constructed with support of Minors several years previously, now recycled as a kindergarten. Most students here are of the Thai ethnic minority.
Kinderannex at Ban Lang Commune in Phong Tho District, serves overflow; elsewhere in Lai Chau province, kindergarteners cramming - literally.

Inside the Huong Duong Kindergarten, before Minors support. This earthen floored- bamboo walled-thatch roofed structure hosted two classrooms; at present one class continues here and one has moved to the newly constructed classroom, right.
Many kindergartens have little or no teaching materials so our support often includes basic teaching kits:
Flashcards of: Wild animals Flowers
Vegetables Furniture Insects
Modes of transport & Careers
Math Kits for children 3-6 years /
224 elements, Letters & Numbers Sets
Picture cards with 9 topics (5-6 years)
Picture cards with poems (4-5 years)


Cold Boarders


11,790 Blankets have been provided for Boarding Students through 2014, but as they often shared by two or more students, we are not sure of the number of children who are sleeping warmer in the sub-freezing nights.

138 bunk beds and 361 single beds have been provided at Commune Boarding schools to date, for a total of 667 beds, and with doubling and tripling up, the number of unique sleepers is anybody's guess.

Photo by Department of Education and Training, Bac Ha District, Lao Cai.

Like beds and blankets, often shared by two or more students or sewn together for group coverage, boarding students at commune schools over the past two decades have received 11,450 mosquito nets from Minors.

A commune primary boarding student shares this bed, study place, blanket and mosquito net with two fellow students, Muong Nhe District, Dien Bien

8,400 hand towels, as well as 4,000 rain sheets and ponchos have been provided to boarding students and kindergarteners in our five project provinces as of this year.




Clothing

“Girls at remote schools receiving warm clothing and other support from Minors are now attending school more days per year.”- Ms. Ma Thi Duyen, Former Deputy Head, Division of Social Protection Dep’t of Labor, Invalids & Social Affairs of Bac Kan Province

As of 2014, Minors has distributed 57,360 sweaters and 28,350 woolen caps to boarding students and other severely impoverished children at more than 300 remote northern highland kindergartens, primary and middle schools, & at centers for orphaned, abandoned and handicapped children, helping them to stay in school through the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing.

Most students without coats, sweaters at this Primary School (Meo Vac - Ha Giang)
In a Primary School a severe shortage of coats and sweaters (Muong Khuong - Lao Cai)
Dual function blackboard doubles as windbreak, at a first grade classroom in Lai Chau.
Shivering children in a Primary School in sub freezing morning temperatures
In the rush to establish kindergartens as mandated, communes and villages used whatever materials were available or affordable. All buildings at all schools are unheated, and usually without electricity or water; wind resistance and rain protection are the priorities.



Student Supplies


25,550 Student Kits have been provided at more than 200 highland Primary and Middle Schools in the northern mountains as of 2014.

Each Kit is shared by several students, and may include the following:
Angle Meter, Colored Paper, Coloring Pencils, Compass, Crayons, Eraser, Felt-tip Pen, Fountain Pen, Glue Stick, Pen, Pencils, Pencil Sharpener, Ruler, Scissors and Square

As of 2014, Minors has provided 376 sets of library books at 450 schools, including 29 kindergartens. Some schools receive only partial sets as demand is much greater than supply.

Backpacks have been provided by Minors to 9,760 students over the years in Bac Kan, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces. They are especially useful to boarding students whose schools often are more than a day's hike from home.



Health Care


Patient transport to and from health centers and hospitals is a great challenge for highland villagers and boarding students as well, and often the available heath care is beyond means.

Boarding students carry one of their own to a hospital, an eight kilometer trek.
A volunteer physician accompanying Minors staff on a project site visit stops to treat a Hmong child. Infections can turn serious when treatment is distant or unaffordable.

Minors has printed and distributed several thousand copies of the Vietnamese version of Where There Is No Doctor, by David Werner, at remote schools in many provinces of Viet Nam, primarily in the central and northern highlands.

This valuable instruction book for medical treatment and emergency care in remote areas is provided to all graduates of Minors' Health Care Training Course for Teachers, and most schools at which we provide support are provided a copy as well.

We continue to distribute copies of the book, Where There Is No Doctor; so far more than 500 schools in remote mountainous areas have received this book.
Respiratory problems, conjunctivitis, and other infections, as well as cuts, are the major ailments treated by teachers charged with caring for boarding students.

Since 1994, beginning in Ha Giang Province, we have provided medicine, medical kits and 43 Health Care Training Courses for more than 2,365 teachers at several hundred schools in these five northern provinces.

This program focuses on teachers charged with caring for the boarding students, some of whom are only six years old. These week long classes are taught by physicians, midwives, pharmacists, herbal medicine specialists and other medical professionals from local district hospitals.

Minors has cooperated with 20 district hospitals in ten provinces of Viet Nam over the years.

Teachers from schools in Bac Kan Province at health care training course.
Graduates of Minors' Health Care Training Course for Teachers at Remote Commune Boarding Schools in Bac Kan Province
At our last training course in Lao Cai, a physician demonstrates CPR as a teacher asssists
All set in Dien Bien Province

Through 2013 Minors has provided 1,931 Medical kits to village and commune schools in remote areas across the northwestern highlands of Viet Nam. Photos below show kits being delivered at schools along with other support, and a kit in use in a teachers' dormitory.

Medical Kit Contents:
Adhesive Tape, Bandage Rolls, Band-Aids, Cotton, Gauze Pads, Iodine, Vitamins
Medicines for treatment of Cough, Diarrhea, Infection, Inflammation, Pain

Patient Assistance

For more than a decade, Minors has been providing assistance to critically ill patients, in exceptionally difficult economic circumstances, in need of life-saving surgery or cancer treatment. This program has to date helped 162 patients at The Cancer Institute, and 345 patients at Viet Duc Hospital, both in Ha Noi.

In Laos we have over 13 years provided assistance to more than 200 patients at hospitals in Vientiane and Xieng Khouang Province, 18 children who were transferred to Thailand for cancer treatment and surgeries, and helped cover medical and rehabilitation costs for several patients who were injured by exploding ordnance left from the U.S. war.



Our Current Local Partners In Viet Nam

Departments and organizations cooperating with Minors to implement our projects

Our Local Partners lead the way...

  1. Bac Kan Provincial Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DELISA)
  2. Pac Nam District Office of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA)
  3. Ba Be DOLISA
  4. Bach Thong DOLISA
  5. Cho Moi DOLISA
  6. Dien Bien Provincial Dept. of Foreign Affairs (DOFA)
  7. Dien Bien DELISA
  8. Dien Bien Association for Study Encouragement (ASE)
  9. Tuan Giao DOET
  10. Dien Bien DOET
  11. Muong Cha DOET
  12. Tua Chua DOET
  13. Dien Bien Phu City DOET
  14. Dien Bien Center for Social Security (COSS) (for orphans & destitute elderly)
  15. Ha Giang DOFA
  16. Ha Giang DELISA
  17. Meo Vac DOLISA
  18. Yen Minh DOLISA
  19. Ha Giang COSS
  20. Lai Chau DOFA
  21. Lai Chau Provincial Department of Planning and Investment (DPI)
  22. Lai Chau DELISA
  23. Phong Tho DOET
  24. Tan Uyen DOET
  25. Tam Duong DOET
  26. Lai Chau COSS
  27. Lao Cai DELISA
  28. Sa Pa DOET
  29. Muong Khuong DOET