Minors’ 2018 Projects in Viet Nam

Highland ethnic minority boarding students bring water back to school from a distant stream, a time consuming daily ordeal over difficult terrain in the mountains of northern Viet Nam. Lack of water is one of the primary reasons these children drop from school, many to never return.

This year’s report focuses on Projects to Improve Access to Water


Minors’ 2018 Report


Minors was established at Mankato, Minnesota, USA in November 1984 as a 501(C)3 organization, and is duly registered as such with the US IRS, and is Licensed annually by the Offices of the Attorney General and Secretary of State of Minnesota. Originally our name was Minors In Need Of Resettlement (MINORS); at present we are Minors, Inc.


The focus of our work at the time of formation was to provide resettlement and related assistance to children at refugee camps in Thailand who were separated from their parents, and orphaned children separated from their next of kin, as well as elderly and handicapped refugees. In the 1980s Minors assisted more than 2,000 children from Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, and numerous resettled Hmong refugee families in the U.S.

In January 1990 Minors was invited by the government of Viet Nam to begin an assistance program in northern Viet Nam. Minors was among the first International Non-governmental Organizations granted a License to Operate in Viet Nam, and we soon thereafter began work in neighboring Laos as well. Minors has implemented projects in remote regions of 30 provinces in the two countries over the past 28 years.

Currently in Viet Nam: Minors is licensed to operate in Viet Nam as a foreign Non-Governmental Organization by the Peoples Aid Coordination Committee (PACCOM), implementing projects under MoA with the International Relations Dept, Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), both of Ha Noi. Current MoA is for projects implemented between 2016 and 2019. Current License is valid through 20 June 2020.



Viet Nam Program


Minors’ projects again this year focused keenly on solutions for the deprivation of basic necessities that force ethnic minority children from the most remote mountain villages, girls more so than boys, to drop out, and in many cases, not return to school. Our goal is to target the most at risk children through direct assistance with sustainable support, enabling them to stay in school in the cold/dry season, and more importantly to return the following year.


The basics provided to boarding and other disadvantaged students by Minors this year are the three most important of all:  Access to Food, Water and Warm Clothing.


At the start of 2018 we received several letters from students, along with photos of a just completed Minors’ project which brought water to their school. The letters convey very well the impact of this type of support. In 2018 we were able to implement 12 more water projects at as many remote boarding schools. Please see these letters and photos, along with our comments, at the Constituency and Geographic Area Served, below:

Overview of Support Provided by Minors in Viet Nam 2018

Construction of biogas systems


Water systems support/construction


Rice Scholarships


Library Book Sets





Details of Support during 2018: All support provided this year, according to Project Description, Province, District and Commune, as well as Ethnic Minority groups receiving support, local/regional partners, number of beneficiaries and status of the implementation process of each project is shown in the Summary Table (Achievements and Figures). Distribution Details of support by item, quantity, cost of projects at each commune school or Center is detailed in the Implementation Table.


Constituency/Geographic Area Served by Projects 2018:

During this past year Minors provided support at 32 Schools serving highland ethnic minority communities and 2 provincial COSS (Center of Social Security, a provincial care facility for orphaned or abandoned children and destitute elderly). These schools are at 26 Communes in 16 Districts of the 5 northern provinces of Bac Kan, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lai Chau and this year, instead of Lao Cai, Tuyen Quang*.

The several thousand Beneficiaries of this direct assistance included students of 15 highland ethnic minority groups, in descending order by student populations served:

Hmong, Dzao (Mien), Tay, Thai, Kho Mu, Lao, Muong, Giay, San Chi, La Hu, Ha Nhi, Lo Lo, Pu Peo, Bo Y, C’lao, Also a few Chinese and Kinh (ethnic Vietnamese) students.

* As last year, it seems PACCOM has prevailed upon us to let them deliver much needed sweaters to orphans and abandoned children in Tuyen Quang province, where we worked in the early 1990s, but moved on to other, even more impoverished regions.

Sweaters also went to 5,000 other cold students at schools in 7 districts, now being delivered in December 2018 and January 2019, before the snow flies. Rice Scholarships (supplemental food) were provided for orphans who were underweight at one orphanage and one young patient assisted at another. Library sets went to seven schools with 2,400 students. Biogas projects benefitted 1,300 boarding students and their teachers, and access to water was provided at 12 schools for 4,400 students, as well as their teachers, and in many cases the school’s neighbors


Benefits Provided by Minors’ Projects: BIOGAS

We have implemented projects at 4 schools this year which will bring biogas for the kitchens of boarding students, saving wood and bringing other great benefits to these students. Minors has for some time been implementing biogas system projects at several remote boarding schools for highland ethnic minority students, and these projects are in great demand by school directors, teachers and are most welcomed of any assistance we provide.

Above, excavation of the site by middle school boarding students, and below a local work crew is constructing the tank which will hold the waste from the livestock pens and student latrines.

A full description of the two types of biogas systems we employ will be included in next year’s report, complete with photos and video of livestock and the boarding schools cooking with gas, and interviews with students. This year’s report will concentrate on the immense effect water access, in this case just a pipeline, has had on boarding students:



In Bac Kan Province…

Here boarding students of the Tay ethnic minority at Cong Bang middle school in Pac Nam district of Bac Kan province gleefully wash their hands, previously a luxury, now part of daily life. They are ecstatic at not having to hike to streams for water and carry it back to school, as can be clearly seen in the letters from students at another school, in Lai Chau, below.

In Dien Bien Province…


Toilets Reopen for All.  Locked toilets (above right) at boarding schools are far too common. Thai and Mien Boarding students now have sufficient water for flushing the heretofore locked toilets, a welcome relief. These water tanks supported by Minors in 2018, at Pu Nhi middle school in Dien Bien Dong district, Dien Bien province. (Photos: Dept of Education & Training)


Why Water? Students posing with their new water tank show the proportion of girls to boys from remote villages who come to board at this school. Access to water will even the score, we hope by next school year. Word gets around.


And in Lai Chau Province:


The very happy boarding students at Bum To School

Boarding Students carve out a garden at the top of a cliff behind their dormitory.

Land for growing is limited and precious, but worth little to students without water, which their school now has, from Minors’ support.

Bum To Commune School, Muong Te District, Lai Chau Province.


Letters from students and more photos by school staff follow over the next six pages. Highlighted portions are discussed, below after the letters.

Note: If you don’t want to read through all the letters, you can just hit the highlights, but you will miss some gems.



To: Organizers from Minors Asia

My name is Vang Ty Hoa from Class 7A of Bum To Middle School. Firstly, I would like to represent my classmates to thank the organization for your kindness and care.


We were born and raised in hardships in mountainous areas where most of our homes are far from school so we have to board at the school. The lives of more than 200 boarding students face many hardships, especially getting water for day to day use


When we do not have water, we have to walk a kilometer to bring buckets of water back to cook, clean pots and dishes wash clothes, and sometimes we even have to share a gulp of water with each other. Some of my friends cannot take the hardship so they dropped out of school.


But this month we have been extremely happy because Minors organization cared and sponsored to build a pipeline for us. Now, we do not have to go get water or compete with each other for a drop of water anymore. Watching each drop of clean water running to my feet is like a plant having each drop of water for it to sprout. I want to represent my classmates to wish the organizers at Minors good health, happiness, and the ability to go to other areas to help other students like us.



Boarding Students are the labor crew for digging and laying pipe, their school can be seen down below. This is the same rugged steep path the boys and girls who board had to hike as they hauled water from a distant stream.


To: Minors Asia

My name is Phung Pho Ni from Class 8A of Bum To Middle School. Each day, no matter if it rains or storms, my friends and I would walk a long distance to travel to the stream to get water. Because of the weather conditions it is hard to walk sometimes.


Whenever this happens, my friends and I would wish that we had magical powers that will help us so that we do not have to climb and walk to the stream to get water. And so, happiness came to us when our principal announced that our school received a sponsorship from Minors to help build a pipe for my friends and me.


Thank you for your help and kindness that will allow us to alleviate the hardship.


This pipe encourages us to try and study harder. I promise to respect and protect the pipe that Minors has given us.

Using their bare hands and whatever means and material available, students carefully bury the pipeline, rock by rock, on the tricky terrain.


To: Organizers from Minors

From: All students from Class 8C of Bum To Middle School


Through the school meeting, we were able to know that the organization had sponsored a pipeline and cared for us. I am very happy because Minors has allowed [us] to have a pipeline to be used for when we cook at the boarding school. From now on, our garden will always be fresh and beautiful, our vegetables will always be clean because we now have a source for freshwater, and we will no longer have to endure hardship to travel down the stream to bathe.



To: Minors Organization

My name is Vang Xe Nu from Class 9B from Bum To Middle School. Recently, Bum To Middle School reveived sponsorship from Minors for the construction of a pipeline.


My friends and I are very happy because from now on we will have a pipeline to support our everyday activity for the students that are boarding. As we already know in this life, water has a lot of important roles in the health and wellbeing of a human.


It helps with our personal hygiene, house cleaning, cooking and gardening. When we did not have the sponsorship of Minors, we had to use water from the stream and everyday had to carry water back to cook. The source of water was very dirty because there were a lot of trash in the stream. Ever since we’ve had the pipeline to carry water to the school, we were able to know about clean water and we no longer have to go down the stream to bathe.


Having clean water, we also have better health and more energy to play and study harder.



To: Minors Organization

First, I, Ky Ly Lo, student from Class 6A of Bum To Middle School, I would like to thank for the care, support, and development from Minors for aiding us students who are from poor villages with unfavoring circumstances in Lai Chau province. Bum To Middle School was able to receive the pipeline system for clean water. Through the meaningful encouragement from your organization, we are able to live and study with a clean source of water in school. The contributions from Minors has left a great impression for us.

Not only bare-handed, but working barefoot as well, the students were eager to help.



My name is Ly Na Me. I was born and raised in the mountains, where the road to school is very rigorous. A hot day is like a rainy day, my friends and I have to travel really far to get water to cook, clean dishes, and water the vegetables.


When night falls, my friends and I have to go to the stream to bathe. Happiness came to us when our principal announced that the organization, Minors, has sponsored for the construction of a pipeline.


The task of cooking for the students at the boarding school will be easier and the rooms that we stay in will be cleaner [with the use of water], the vegetables will be more fresh. On the behalf of 35 students of Class 8C and 355 students of the school, I would like to give a big thank to the organizers at at Minors. Lastly, I want to wish the organizers good health and happiness and that the organization will become more successful and bring more goodness to society.



Dear the organizers at Minors, my name is Y Ly Mi Co, student of Class 6B from Bum To Middle School. Today, I am representing the students from Class 6B and the 355 students from the middle school to thank the organizers at Minors.


We grew up in the mountainous area and endured a lot of hardship and lacking a lot of resources. Despite cold nights without blankets or humid days without a fan, the biggest hardship would have to be not having enough water for everyday use.


We do not have a well because the mountain is so high that we cannot dig deep enough, and we do not have a water system because the road is too far. The water that we use everyday is water from the stream. Each day we have to walk a long distance and climb over the mountain to get water to use. On days that are sunny is the same as days that are rainy.


We cannot count how many tiny footsteps have imprinted on the road to the stream. In these moments, we always wish for a spell that will come to us so that we will not have to carry the water. And our dream has become a reality when our principal announced to the school that we have received a sponsor to construct a pipeline for the school.


We are lucky to have met the organization and receive the love and support from the golden hearts of the organizers. I cannot hide my happiness so today I decided to represent my classmates to write this letter and send my thanks to the organizers at Minors.


I promise to work harder to not let down the contributions that I have received from the organizers.


During the past year, our school had a shortage of water everyday so we were very happy when the organization, Minors, had sponsored the construction of a pipeline for us.


We now have water to use freely, and we also have water for our vegetables and flowers We no longer have to worry about not having water.



My name is Phung Xa Lo from Class 9A of Bum To Middle School. The students at my school and I are very happy when the organization, Minors, had sponsored for the construction of a water pipeline for us to have clean water to use.


As we know, water is very important to our health and it helps us to carry out personal activities like wash clothes, using the bathroom, clean dishes, make rice and water the vegetables.


When we did not have the sponsorship, we had to use water from the stream but because there are a lot of trash in the stream, along with ox and ducks bathings and swimming in the stream, we had to bathe north of the stream and had to take the water home to use for cooking.


Because the water is not clean, it will really affect our health and cause us to be sick. But if we get water from the south of the stream then we have to wait from morning to the afternoon to get 20 liters back to use because water comes out very slowly.


Ever since we have the pipeline to carry water straight to the school, we were able to know what clean water is, and we no longer have to bathe in the stream and we have more time to study and have fun. I would like to wish the organizers at Minors growth and success to help invest and care for people in the world.



Regarding the highlighted portions of the students’ letters, above:

Some of my friends cannot take the hardship so they dropped out of school.

This student has pinpointed one of the two most common reasons Hmong and a few other less populated ethnic minority girls from higher elevation or geographically isolated villages drop from school: Thirst, and the difficulty in accessing water. This affects younger and smaller or under nourished boarders first and foremost, as they are simply not strong enough to carry water over difficult terrain.



The source of water was very dirty because there were a lot of trash in the stream. Ever since we’ve had the pipeline to carry water to the school, we were able to know about clean water and we no longer have to go down the stream to bathe.

When night falls, my friends and I have to go down to the stream to bathe. These two girls mention the stark realities that they must go to the distant stream to bathe in the unclean water, but must do so in the dark, meaning when they cannot be seen, and their relief in having to do so no longer. This lack of security is a related reason for girls dropping from school, especially the older girls, those in lower secondary grades.



Despite cold nights without blankets or humid days without a fan, the biggest hardship would have to be not having enough water for our everyday use.

Most boarding students drop out for these two reasons: lack of blankets and lack of water.



We do not have a well because the mountain is so high that we cannot dig deep enough. This student is well aware of the geographic challenges that mean they have had to hike and carry water. The reality of the terrain in Lai Chau, and especially in Ha Giang province is that the higher elevations on the mountain ranges where the Hmong dwell are subsurface hard and thick rock. There is no subsoil to speak of, and often not much topsoil. Wells are at most remote schools out of the question as too costly.

The government is slowly building reservoirs for rain water, but there are never enough to serve the population.

...and we do not have a water system because the road is too far.

How right she is, that the more remote schools, farthest off the road, are the last to get government assistance such as water systems. That is why those schools tend to be our priority.



Because the water is not clean, it will really affect our health and cause us to be sick. But if we get water from the south of the stream then we have to wait from morning to the afternoon to get 20 liters back to use because water comes out very slowly.


This student highlights the other issues at hand, not just distance and terrain, not just polluted water, but the lack of current, no doubt at its worst in the dry season.




Our 19 Local Partners’ Contributions in 2018

This year we have received increased project support by our partners, who are now regularly supporting projects financially as well as in monitoring or providing labor. Examples:

At some projects Minors is the minority stakeholder, providing a smaller portion of the cost: The water system at Huoi Luong boarding school, Phuong Tho District, Lai Chau Province our partner, the district Dept of Education & Training expended 3,860 USD for storage tanks and Minors’ share came to 1,158 USD for bricks, cement and one steel frame.

At Dao San school, same district, total construction material cost was 1,330 USD for pipeline and tanks, and Minors’ share was 343 USD, which was for some pipes and electric wire for pump. If we include the local partner’s transportation of materials and labor their actual share would be close to 3,500 USD. This is becoming more common, and most welcome.

This year, we were able to implement 12 water projects and four biogas projects; without such cooperation we could have done only a fourth as many of each project with the same budget.

Please see list of our local government partners and all participating schools.




Minors restarts POW* support program

Pao was abandoned in Xin Cai commune, where we have provided support at the local school for several years, at Meo Vac district of Ha Giang province when he was estimated to be 2 years old. This boy is paralyzed and cannot speak. Now going on four, he has been living in the provincial orphanage Ha Giang COSS (Center of Social Security) after initially being taken to the district hospital for treatment. Xin Cai People’s Committee made his Birth Certificate, named him Pao, and designated his ethnic group and clan based on his clothes.

This boy falls between the cracks, as he is not in hospital or rehab, but in an orphanage, and so there is no budget that will cover his unique needs.

The orphanage staff requested medicine, milk, diapers, an adjustable patient’s bed and wheelchair, from Minors.


We were able to raise funds from the Hmong community in the US to provide support for Pao, some of which is shown here. He can now join the other children in activities with wheel chair.


Specifically, this critical and timely assistance for Pao was provided by the hard work of the Hmong youth group of Peace Lutheran Church in Fresno, California.



*Patients, Orphans and Widows



Our Patients Assistance program was known for over a decade by many district hospitals in Laos and Viet Nam, which alerted us when patients are at risk of leaving treatment as they lack food. Even though treatment and the hospital stay are free for the most impoverished, they still must provide their own food, and these are patients for whom this program is aimed. We shuttered the program in recent years due to lack of budget, so are hopeful more US Hmong folks will help out, so we can keep it going.



Minors’ Local  Partners  and  Participants  for 2018

Northern Viet Nam Projects


Dien Bien Province

1.       Dien Bien DOFA (Dept. of Foreign Affairs)

2.       Dien Bien DELISA (Dept. of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs)

             Dien Bien Center of Social Security (Orphanage)

3.       Dien Bien ASE (Association for Study Encouragements)

4.       Dien Bien DOET (District Office of Education and Training)

            Na Nhan junior high school

            Pa Thom junior high school

            Pa Thom primary school

5.       Tuan Giao DOET

           Khong Hin junior high school

           Khong Hin kindergarten

           Tenh Phong junior high school

           Tenh Phong kindergarten

6.       Muong Cha DOET

           Huoi Leng junior high school

           Huoi Leng primary school

           Sa Tong junior high school

           Sa Tong primary school


Lao Cai Province

7.       Lao Cai DOFA

8.       Lao Cai DELISA

           Lao Cai Center of Social Security (Orphanage)

9.       Bac Ha DOET

           Ban Lien junior high school

           Ban Lien primary school

           Ta Van Chu junior high school

           Ta Van Chu junior high school

10.   Muong Khuong DOET

           Cao Son junior high school

           Cao Son primary school

           Nam Lu junior high school

           Nam Lu primary school

11.   Sa Pa DOET

           Ban Khoang junior high school

           Ban Khoang primary school

           Ban Ho junior high school

           Ban Ho primary school

12.   Si Ma Cai DOET

           Nan Sin junior high school

           Nan Sin primary school

           Sin Cheng junior high school

           Sin Cheng primary school


Lai Chau Province

13.   Lai Chau DOFA

14.   Lai Chau DELISA

           Lai Chau Center of Social Security (Orphanage)

15.   Phong Tho DOET

           Ban Lang primary school

           Huong Duong kindergarten

           Ban Lang junior high school #2

           Hoang Then junior high school

16.   Tan Uyen DOLISA

           Phuc Khoa junior high school

17.   Muong Te DOET

           Bum To primary school

           Bum To junior high school


Ha Giang Province

18.   Ha Giang DOFA

19.   Ha Giang DELISA

           Ha Giang Center of Social Security (Orphanage)

20.   Dong Van DOLISA

           Van Chai basic general school

           Van Chai kindergarten

           Ta Phin basic general school

           Sinh Lung basic general school

21.   Meo Vac DOLISA

           Ta Lung primary school

           Ta Lung kindergarten

           Ta Lung junior high school

           Thuong Phung primary school


Bac Kan Province

22.  Bac Kan PPC

23.  Bac Kan DELISA

           Bac Kan Center of Social Security (Orphanage)

24.  Pac Nam DOLISA

           Cong Bang primary school

           Cong Bang junior high school

           Nhan Mon primary school

           Nhan Mon junior high school

25.  Ba Be DOLISA

           Quang Khe primary school

           Quang Khe junior high school

26.  Bach Thong DOLISA

           Cao Son basic general school

           Cao Son kindergarten