Making a Difference
Over the years we have been involved in several projects to raise awareness about social issues in Vietnam, from domestic violence to human trafficking, and destruction of the natural environment.
Peace House Shelter
In 2013 we worked alongside Vietnam’s Centre for Women and Development and Peace House Shelter to create the photographic book Survivors of Trafficking in their Own Words. Peace House Shelter is an organisation supporting female victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking, especially in northern Vietnam. Many of the (usually young) women who find their way to Peace House Shelter have survived horrific abuse and exploitation at the hands of both relatives and organised criminals. Some have been trafficked to work as prostitutes or forced into marriage in China, and only managed to escape thanks to their own ingenuity or fortune.
As a way of promoting the work of Peace House Shelter, the organisers decided to create a book detailing the stories of some of the survivors, told in their own words. Photographs of daily life at the shelter and showcasing some of the outings and workshops residents join would give readers a sense of how Peace House Shelter helps people turn their lives around.
Over the course of three months, Vietnam in Focus photographed, translated, planned and edited this project, culminating in the publication of the book at a special ceremony at Hanoi’s Centre for Women and Development in December 2013.
More recently, our focus has turned to people’s devastating effect on the natural environment. While climate change and biodiversity loss affect the entire planet, the effects of human degradation are especially obvious in a rapidly-developing country like Vietnam. Travel anywhere in the country and you cannot fail to encounter air, land and water pollution from industry and the excesses of a booming new middle class. Wildlife, on the other hand, is notable by its increasing absence. Large mammals like tiger, elephant and rhino are basically or actually extinct, where not long ago they could be found throughout the country’s jungles. Major marine life in the East Sea has likewise become scarce, with poaching, overfishing and pollution decimating the waters.
This year we have begun an exciting partnership with the Vietnamese NGO Change VN to promote their activities through photography and also introduce participants on longer tours with us to their work.
Change Vietnam, as the name suggests, is all about changing the perspectives and awareness of the next generation of Vietnamese to three main issues –
- Environmental degradation
- Wildlife poaching