Author: Salesian Missions

Publication Date: October 12, 2022

Clean Water for Vietnam

In the central highlands of Vietnam, access to safe drinking water depends on who you are and where you live. But thanks to our many generous friends, more than 2,500 impoverished youth and low-wage laborers no longer have to worry about foregoing other basic needs in order to obtain clean drinking water or getting sick from contaminated water sources.

Agriculture, forestry and mining form the economic core of this mostly rural region, which nestles among majestic mountains and abundant lakes, rivers and streams fed by alpine runoff. Sadly, the very industries that sustain local residents also pollute the water they depend upon to live.

“Many of Vietnam’s rural communities lack basic water infrastructure,” explains Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “They don’t have water pipes running into their homes; and even if they did, inadequate sanitation means that purchasing bottled water is still the best choice for staying healthy. But not everyone can afford to do that. And so—as always—the poorest residents are the most vulnerable to water-borne diseases and their collateral effects.”

In fact, according to estimates, as many as 80 percent of illnesses in Vietnam can be traced to polluted water sources, and these illnesses—including cholera, typhoid, malaria and dysentery—affect millions of people each year.

“When you’re sick, you can’t go to work,” Fr. Gus continues. “And when you’re a low-wage laborer who can’t go to work, you don’t get paid. Sickness and poverty are closely related, and we can’t move the needle on either without addressing equitable access to clean water.”

That’s why our Salesian missionaries have prioritized clean water projects in every community in every country in which they serve. Most recently, this includes four villages in rural Vietnam: Hoa An Parish in Bắc Giang; Khop village and Thanh Binh Parish in Kon Tum; and the Tắc Vân Oratory in Tắc Vân.

There are many poor households in these villages, and residents mostly make minimal wages—in factories, as farmers, or in forestry services. Thanks to support from our dedicated Clean Water Initiative, children and families now enjoy a local, safe water source in the form of new collection tanks and purification systems.

Rhađê, a farmer and forester in the Khop village, is already saving precious time and money he used to spend on water containers and collection—because now, he can draw potable water for his family and his crops. And Tran, a fisherman in Tắc Vân with an unstable income, can provide clean water for his family for free instead of having to buy water canisters he can barely afford.

“From safe drinking water to healthy sanitation to agriculture, water is essential for life,” says Fr. Gus. “Projects like these in Vietnam ensure that people coming to Salesian parishes, schools and centers have access to the water they need. This brings a sense of hope and dignity to the people our missionaries serve. I’m humbled to say that Rhađê and Tran are two of thousands of examples around the world.”

Our sincere thanks to you and other caring friends who make this all possible.

Learn more about our work in Vietnam.

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