Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 00:00

Yangjie: Mother of 24 Children

A three-storied house on a hill in Muzha, on a Saturday afternoon. On the playground, young kids take a nap after lunchtime. At first sight, you would think you are in a kindergarten. But as I enter, nannies disinfect my hands. Others are giving ‘magic cocktails’, which is medication, to some children. Upstairs, elder kids have class with a volunteer teacher.

We are in an orphanage where some children carry HIV, run by Yangjie, a second mum to the 24 children.
Yangjie’s devotion to the children is a story of love and fight for life; offering a second chance to the ones who need it the most. Words do little justice, seeing it is realizing it.

Yangjie grew up in a large family having eight brothers and sisters she took care of since she was little. After a difficult divorce, she moved to Taipei with her two children. Over there she met a young man who was carrying HIV. His friends and classmates had difficulties to cope with his illness, they were afraid of it, hence, afraid of him. Yangjie offered him to live at her place.

Progressively, as she learned more about AIDS, she took care of more and more children carrying HIV and opened an orphanage called ’Harmony Home Association’ (HHAT). There are now 24 children living there. While the youngest is only a week old, some already go to Junior High School.

While she does not have very much money, she still finds ways to take care of these children, and raise them as well as she could, offering them access to education and a healthy environment to grow up in.

Yangjie’s message about AIDS is ‘PREVENTION’, AIDS can be prevented. She also wishes more people would try to understand better this virus and spend time with people carrying HIV.

For your information you should know that most people catch HIV because their mother carries the virus, or by a blood transfusion. In other circumstances, it is very unlikely to be contaminated. Sharing a meal or drinks with a person carrying HIV is safe.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009 19:43

The montagnard people of Vietnam

Northern Vietnam, bordering mainland China, is the village of Sapa. Sapa is known for being the coldest area in Vietnam. Not only for that, in this town and area, live the Black Hmong and Red Dzao tribes. People from these tribes are easily recognizable from the traditional clothes they wear.

The black Hmong wear black and dark blue clothing, and their hands are often all blue from dying fabric.
The Red Dzao wear black and red clothing, and a red scarf winded around their head, held by silver pins, with tassels and small bells hanging over the neck. They also shave their hair up on the forehead as well as their eyebrows.

Both Hmong and Dzao wear beautifully handmade silver jewels, which they sell all around the village of Sapa, along with fabric, clothing, bags, shoes and etc – all of it handmade.
One would think that they dress like that only for show in order to sell their products, and then go back home and dress “normally”. As far as you walk, drive or ride your bike around Sapa, people all dress and work according to their traditions, even in the most remote villages.

A few hours ride away from Sapa is Bac Ha, famous for its market, where another tribe lives – the Flower Hmong. Most are dressed in pink, with a bit of red, blue, yellow, black, green, and orange, thus the name.

Bac Ha is, like Sapa, a very popular touristic place, but the people seem to pay little attention to the tourists. Of course they do try to sell their products to foreigners, like in every other country, but they still maintain their way of living, and you will see people buying horses, dogs, fruits and vegetables in their traditional outfit, taking little notice of the cameras shooting them.

The village of Sapa is a good place to have an overview of the Montagnard (mountain tribes) still living in Vietnam, and most importantly, one that has yet to be contaminated by western culture.

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