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Published: February 7th 2007
Vietnam’s elderly receive no pension from the government when they are too old or no longer able to work. On this trip, I added a new program to Lifestart Foundation's work in Vietnam: Elderly Assistance.
The elderly people that I helped this trip all had families, but they too were all poor. The reality that accompanies being old, frail, and unable to work is that there is no food, or access to medicine or medical treatment when you are ill. There simply is no money for those things.
Thung is 81 years of age and La, his wife, is 79. They live a simple life in the mountains, far away from any city. Thung and La worked hard as farmers every day of their lives. They have raised their children and grandchildren; in their final years, their health is declining. They are no longer able to work the farm and earn enough money for food. When I met them they were hungry and had no money for food or rice.
Their situation is what prompted me to start this new program. I talked with Thung and La, and they explained to me that while they are now too
old to work the rice paddies, they would still be able to look after animals if they had some. We decided on a pair of pigs to breed and a good supply of laying and breeding chickens. They were also given enough rice to last them until I return. I am quite used to seeing people become overwhelmed or super happy when they get assistance from Lifestart, but if you could have seen these two…they were like teenagers! Their relief was enormous.
Because they really didn't want a handout, the animals provided a great solution to their problem—one that allows them to maintain a little independence and dignity. La and Thung are proud people who have survived much over the years. I think it was quite difficult for them to sit with me and tell me they had no rice and that they were hungry.
I do hope that these blogs are giving you all an overview and insight into the range of work that Lifestart Foundation is covering in Central Vietnam.
Love from Karen.
For more information on Lifestart Foundation: www.lifestartfoundation.org.au
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