International Program Jul. 07, 2020

Global Village and the impact of COVID-19: Vietnam

Global Village is Habitat Canada’s short-term international volunteer program, which sees thousands of volunteers build with Habitat across Canada and around the world. As a result of the impact of COVID-19, Habitat Canada has suspended its Global Village program for the duration of 2020.

COVID-19 has had a global impact on the communities served through Habitat for Humanity’s work.

In Vietnam, the Government responded early and suspended the entry of all foreigners on March 22 to limit the spread of COVID-19. More than 30 Global Village builds were cancelled due to the pandemic, and as a result, 21 families from seven project sites were unable to complete the construction of their homes.

Without the support of the international volunteers and their labor contributions, the cost to build the houses increased as the families would have to hire more skilled workers. The communities also lost out on the opportunity to meet and share their culture with the international volunteers.

There are families like Le Thi Ha Binh Minh’s, who after a motorbike accident several years ago was left without the use of her legs. She is a single mother living with her elderly parents, their total family income is on average 50 USD per month. Her house needs to be accessible so that she can move freely. While she and her family really wanted to meet and have the opportunity to work alongside Global Village volunteers, with the rainy season approaching the family had to prepare to start their build construction without the support of Global Village teams.

To date, construction on their new home is near completion and includes an accessible bathroom for Binh.

Photo 1: Ms. Binh with her mother, father and daughter. She used to go to work until she had an accident and moved to live with her mother in Que Son, Quang Nam. Photo 2: Binh’s 6-years-old daughter, Giao, helping her to move to another wheelchair to go inside their current house which is not accessible for her.

All of the families from Habitat for Humanity Vietnam’s projects, are selected through close cooperation and partnerships with the local Government partners; therefore, even when the Global Village teams are unable to support, Habitat Vietnam still helps the families as best as they can, relying heavily on their own finances. To minimize the loss for the families and community as well as to keep aligned to the existing project agreements and partnership with local Governments, Habitat Vietnam is still providing partner families with loans should they want to proceed and build their house without the support of volunteer teams or wait for future teams, based on their immediate needs.

For volunteers, not meeting families like Binh’s in person means missing the opportunity to see the resilience of our partner families, and seeing first-hand the work that Habitat does.

While we have temporarily suspended the Global Village builds, we continue to support home-building projects in local Habitat for Humanity organizations in partnering countries. There are still families like Issa’s in communities all around the world who need safe and decent homes. Please consider supporting our international efforts. Click on the button below to donate and help us continue our work so that families can access affordable housing.