Tet just another day of struggle in northern ethnic village

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The biggest holiday of the year is passing by without any hint of festivity for an ethnic group living in a northern village.

Local reports say large numbers of uneducated children are a factor that puts most families in the village close to starvation every day.

Mo Ba village of Dao people in Thai Nguyen Province, around 100 kilometers from Hanoi, has more than 130 families, most of whom are very poor.

Vuong Van Lau, the village head, said the situation has been that way for many years.

The village has the worst birth control rate in the country, Lau was quoted as saying by news website VietNamNet in a report on January 22.

La Thi Hoa, a mother of nine, said having plain noodles to eat during Tet is "very happy already.

"Otherwise, we would just starve."

Her 4-year-old son survived a Tet day by roasting and eating a fat worm.

An old man in the village said his house is all packed every time all the children come for Tet or other holidays.

"There's not enough food for all of them though I have a 60 kilo pig butchered. That's why families here are still poor no matter how hard they work.

"But want it or not, giving birth is natural," the man told VietNamNet.

The villagers go hunting in the jungle, some are hired as illegal loggers or just to collect and carry the timber, for VND250,000 (US$12) each time.

But not many trees or livestock are left, so the villagers are unpaid most of the days, said Lau.

His subordinate, Trieu Phuc Binh, said young people from the village are not employed at local coal and stone mines as they did not finish their high school education.

The youth found school boring and the parents failed to persuade them to continue.

Di, a 16 year old boy in the village, also goes hunting and logging trees every day after dropping out of school at seventh grade as he was "bored and scared." The boy has forgotten the taste of meat and does not get rice everyday.

Hoang Van Dong, 25, also said that "it was so boring going to school so I dropped out at ninth grade."

Vuong Van, a father of seven, said he really wants his children to go to school but "none of them likes to."

One of his children quit at grade six and another at seven.

In 2009, a kindergarten and primary school were built inside the village and teachers were allowed to stay close to their working place.

Lau said he and all parents in the village hope that the teachers can motivate the children to learn and not fear going to school.

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