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Welcome to Muong Phang CBT!

Phuong Duc Homestay – the first homestay in Muong Phang Commune, Dien Bien District was inaugurated on 24 November 2018. This is a part of the CBT project in Dien Bien, supported by AOP in Vietnam through Dien Bien Center for Community Development (CCD).

Mr. Ta Van Tuan – Country Director of Action on Poverty in Viet Nam making a speech at Muong Phang CBT inauguration ceremony

Having successfully implemented the Community-based Tourism model in Hoa Binh Province, AOP in Vietnam is replicating this model in other Northern mountainous areas, including Dien Bien Province. About 480 km away from Ha Noi to the North, Muong Phang Commune, Dien Bien District is an ideal destination for culture and history explorers.

Muong Phang Commune is the home to Thai and Khmu ethnic minorities. During the stay at Phuong Duc Homestay, tourists will be provided with local cuisine, accommodation of up to 50 people and the essence of the ethnic cultures. Harvesting, fishing, cycling, walking, sailing and enjoying the tranquility of Muong Phang mountains and rivers are also the must-try activities in this area.

Making beds before welcoming tourists

Besides from its rich cultures, Dien Bien District is also the area that witnessed a glorious historic victory of Viet Nam, known as the “Operation Linebacker II” victory. Tourists coming to Dien Bien will have the opportunity of visiting historical monuments and exploring Vietnamese history.

Side view of Phuong Duc Homestay

Given these potential characteristics, Muong Phang CBT promises tourists new and unique experiences.

 

Paddy view from Phuong Duc Homestay

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Hoans’ Story: Weaving Her Way Out of Poverty

Hoans’ Story: Weaving Her Way Out of Poverty

Hoan, 30, lives in Da Bac, Vietnam, with her husband, mother-in-law and two children. Hoan belongs to the Muong people – one of Vietnam’s 53 ethnic minority groups.

Unfortunately, these groups often suffer extreme poverty as they live mainly in remote areas, including the mountainous Da Bac region. Here, they have far less access to employment, education and health care.

Trapped in poverty

Like other Muong women in Da Bac, Hoan had lots of different jobs to make a living. Her main source of income was from catching and selling shrimp from Hoa Binh Lake, but she was struggling to earn enough to feed her family.

Hoan had tried to make her own shrimp traps, which involved splitting bamboo sticks by hand. Shrimp traps must be made of smooth bamboo using good weaving techniques. Without the correct equipment and training, Hoan was unable to make strong traps, and had to resort to buying traps from traders – a huge expense for her small-scale business.

Weaving a better way

We helped Hoan and other women in her village learn to weave their own traps using a bamboo-splitting machine.

The machine splits and smooths bamboo sticks in seconds. With help from the machine, Hoan can now weave up to 30 traps per day and save thousands of dollars every year. She also earns extra income from selling her traps to other shrimp catchers.

The women also discovered that using native bamboo increased the life span and efficiency of each trap. Their traps last twice as long as those they used to purchase from traders.

“I usually collect bamboo as I herd the cows so that we have the material even on rainy days,” said Hoan.

“Thanks to the money saved from trap weaving and selling, our family has extras to support our children in education and invest in other farming practices as well.”

 

Taste the local shrimp and try your hand at trap-weaving when you Trek Vietnam with us in March 2019.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Thao Turns Her Fortunes Around

Thao Turns Her Fortunes Around

Thao and her husband Huu run a beautiful homestay in picturesque Ke village in Da Bac province, northern Vietnam. But just a couple of years ago, the family was struggling to survive. As the primary breadwinner, Thao was forced to leave her 14-month-old daughter and work away from home, earning less than $2 a day.

Living in poverty

Thao lives with her husband and in-laws in Da Bac district. Agriculture is difficult due to the mountainous terrain, and over 30% of people live in extreme poverty.

Thao had to travel 30km on her motorbike through treacherous mountain passes just to get to her job as a contract teacher. Because she didn’t have a government assignment, the school paid her a much lower salary than that of a permanent teacher. And because the trip was so difficult, she was forced to stay overnight during the week, so she only saw her daughter on weekends.

But this wasn’t Thao’s only worry. Her mother-in-law was chronically ill with kidney stones and had to travel to Hoa Binh every month for tests and dialysis. Although they were working as hard as they could, Huu and his father barely earned enough to cover the medical bills.

A new opportunity

Determined to help his struggling wife, Huu suggested they open a homestay as part of Action on Poverty’s Community-based Tourism (CBT) project. CBT helps vulnerable ethnic communities in Da Bac create their own long-term livelihoods by bringing much-needed income and infrastructure to remote villages, while allowing them to share their unique culture with the outside world.

Thao attended courses in cooking and first aid, and studied as a tour guide. She now runs the Ke village homestay – a traditional stilt house that sleeps up to 12 people and offers stunning views of the lake.

“I enjoy meeting new people and taking care of my guests,” said Thao. “I once had an Australian group of two teachers and 10 students. They were so friendly to my family and my neighbours. I was touched when they hugged me before leaving. I look forward to meeting more groups like that.”

A better future

Thao now earns up to four times her old salary and has quit her teaching job, which means she can spend more time with her family. With her increased income, Thao has made some home improvements and paid for her daughter’s tuition at the village kindergarten.

“Now my daughter is blessed with love from both her mum and her dad,” said Thao. “I want to invest more in her future. It’s no longer a pipe dream.”

Visit traditional homestays and take Action on Poverty with our Vietnam Trek in March 2019.

Coming Home

Coming Home

At just 21, Sanh has a lot of responsibility. He manages his parents’ homestay in Hoa Binh, Vietnam, as part of our Community-based Tourism project. Sanh is responsible for greeting guests, taking bookings and payments, and cooking delicious meals. This frees up Sanh’s parents to farm rice and bamboo, increasing their household income.

Both Vietnamese and international guests come to experience the stunning landscape and culture of Sanh’s home. On their tour, guests stay in traditional homes managed by locals like Sanh. Most are Muong – a local ethnic minority. Tourism allows the Muong to increase their income while also sharing their language and culture with others. Guests also have the opportunity to see Action on Poverty projects first-hand.

Leaving home

Three years ago, Sanh left Hoa Binh to look for work in Hanoi, a three-hour drive away. Hoa Binh offers few opportunities for young people, and after finishing secondary school, most leave to study or work in the city.

At first, Sanh worked in a restaurant, but eventually left Hanoi to work as a wage labourer on rubber plantations. While the labour was difficult, Sanh says the instability was the worst part.

“The wages were low, and I was always moving around from job to job,” he said. “It was hard.”

Starting over

When his parents decided to open a homestay, Sanh decided to return home to help out. At first, he wasn’t sure if the project would succeed.

“I didn’t think the area was well-known enough for tourism, and no one in my family had any experience with greeting guests or hospitality.”

However, the rugged, isolated terrain proved to be a drawcard for tourists. And with some training and practice, Sanh’s skills and confidence as a host soared. A quick learner, Sanh was soon looking for new ways to improve his homestay.

He noticed the fish at market were expensive and scarce. To prepare the best meals for his guests, he decided to invest in his own fish cage on the nearby lake. Sanh’s fish cage provides plentiful meals for his guests, and additional fish can be sold to tourists.

However, combined with his duties at the homestay, the work is hard. Sanh sleeps at the lake several times a week, rising at 4am to tend and feed the fish, before returning home by 6am to begin cooking breakfast for his guests.

When asked if he found his workload too heavy, Sanh simply chuckled and said that on days he has no guests, he finds himself bored.

“I’m just glad to be home,” he said. “Before, I didn’t have any stability in my life. But now with the homestay, I hope that my family and I can have stable futures.”

 

Meet Sanh and see our life-changing projects in action when you Trek Vietnam with us in March 2019.