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While they stand in water, the Danes are taking care of Vietnam

While they stand in water, the Danes are taking care of Vietnam

(Danskerne star ude i vandet og passer på Vietnam)


Marie Sisse Brown, Communications Officer in CARE Denmark

Translation: Søren Engberg


The taste is so bitter that I can feel it in my knees. The green tea is served in a small, white cup with a red rose on. The temperature is 40 degrees and the humidity 90. Tea is the best to drink. Even in spite of the bitterness and the small portion.


I am sitting in a Village hall together with two CARE colleagues. When the rest of the attendances in the hall are presenting them selves as chairman of the veterans, chairman of the women’s union, of the farmers and of the villages in the area, the socialist approach of Vietnam becomes apparent. Ho Chi Minh is looking down on us from a small stage with red tables and flags with hammer and sickle.

Standing on the national dyke to view a general picture of mangroves in Da Loc Commune.

But this meeting is not about communism or the American war, which the war is obviously called in Vietnam. This meeting is about climate change, trees and voluntary work. And about a project, which turns out to have enthusiastic support despite of the never-ending, laboriously hours in the mangrove sump.


Mr. Nghi is a small but very fit man. He is using his whole body when he, with gesticulations, laughter, big eyes and voice, are chairing the meeting. Mr. Nghi is the manager of CARE’s Mangrove project. A project that will protect Vietnams coastline against the yearly and continuously stronger typhoons. If the term passionate has ever been entitled, then it suits for Mr. Nghi.


During the last two days, he has been showing me how the small mangrove trees are grown in nurseries along the riverbanks. Mr. Nghi has literally been hauling me both through and up from the mangrove sump, whereby the planting has been going on in the early dawn. And he has been driving me along the expensive cement dykes that has been, if not worthless then less effective compared to the dense mangrove forests. It is also Mr. Nghis’ calculations that tell, that for every dollar invested in planting mangroves, they save 130 dollar in cement dykes.


But without all the volunteers, whose chairmen and –women now are gathered in this house, then do neither calculations nor trees last. When all the small seedlings are planted in the mud, then the seedlings have to be taken care of and the villagers have to remove all the barnacles that are trying to build a new home on the thin mangrove seedlings. If they do not remove the barnacles, they will strangle the young mangrove tree, and all the work will be wasted.  Another threat is all the plastic-trash that flows from the rivers into the ocean. When the tide comes, do the plastic gather around the small trees and creates another threat in strangling the plants. Therefore do high school student assemble on the beach and bringing rakes to collect the plastic.

Talking with local people and pupil who are living surround mangroves.

I am asking, what makes so many people, who are already working from dawn to dusk, to take part in this project as volunteers? The answer is, that it is an obvious necessity, and that the result of the coast preservation is so apparent that is carries the salary and the satisfaction.

When the yearly typhoons hits the coast, the saltwater floods the rice fields and destroys the harvest for the following five years – not to mention all the homes and lives the typhoon takes. But this just doesn’t happen where the mangroves protect the coast.

Mangrove trees have developed rapidly with Community-Based Management.

In the beginning we feared working by the waterfront. But today is it our trees, our protection, that we care fore, tells a woman, while a man from the local commune committee stands up and ask me to bring back a thanks, because all the work of the volunteers, would never had happened without the support from CARE Denmark: “It is the Danes that are standing out there in the water taking care of us”, the Chairman says and Mr. Nghi claps his hands and laugh.

Mr. Nguyen Viet Nghi

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