Life of Vietnamese teachers at 4,300 feet

By Mai Thanh Hai, Thanh Nien News

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Three of them on an assignment to a mountain peak share a bed, eat eggs and dried fish most of the time and have no proper bathroom

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 Po Ho Cao in the northern province of Lao Cai is nearly 1,300 meters above sea level and cold and foggy all year round. The mountain peak is home to 30 H’Mong families, who are regularly visited by teachers from the plains for the past 20 years. Photos: Mai Thanh Hai.
 The current team consists of three women aged 24, 25 and 27, who are in charge of more than 40 children aged between three and 10. Like the locals, they have to spend half a day every weekend to go down to shop for necessities. The trip can take days when rains turn the roads into slush.
 The basic classroom was built many years ago and has never been refurbished.
The teachers climb up a big rock near the classroom if they want to call home since it is the only place where phone signals can reach.
 The teachers with their students.
 The teachers share a small room with canvas walls and a small bed.
 They have to find firewood to cook every day.
 Most of their meals include eggs and dried fish.
 They do not have a proper toilet.
 Dogs are their best guards in this remote area.
 A little bit of cement makes up a bathroom.
 Their colleagues have to eat on the bed during a visit.
 Two of the teachers, Luc Van Anh and Nguyen Thi Huong, receive gifts from readers of Thanh Nien Newspaper.
 Each has a bamboo basket on the back to carry foods and other necessities up the mountain every week.
 Huong, 27, has two daughters who are with their grandparents since her husband also works elsewhere. The family members see each other once a month.
 Regular landslides make the teachers’ trip down very difficult, if not dangerous.
 But all that never keeps them from smiling.

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