Dong Hoi is located on the north-central coast of Vietnam and has twelve kilometres of white sandy beaches. It is the capital of Quang Binh province, with a population of over 100,000.
The city’s economy has been growing rapidly over the last years, and the service sector is the most important source of income for the population. Nevertheless, Quang Binh remains one of the provinces in the country with the lowest income. Many young people therefore migrate to other parts of the country in search of opportunity.
Since 2006, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Dong Hoi.
The prevailing poverty in some areas means that children are often forced to work. Despite Vietnam’s low average child labour rate compared to its neighbours, around 5.3% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 are working in the country.
By 2018 estimates, nearly 520,000 children were engaged in hazardous labour, especially in the industry and construction sector. However, most children work in the agricultural sector. Parents may struggle to care for their children; many are forced to leave school because their families cannot afford the cost, so that only 63% of working children also go to school.
Poverty levels are highest amongst Quang Binh’s ethnic minorities: there are 24 ethnic groups in the province, and 23 of them live in remote mountainous areas. Their lives are marked by poverty, illiteracy, high levels of malnutrition and disease, as well as poor access to basic services.
Not only are these living conditions difficult, they also make families very vulnerable to a number of risks, such as inter-country adoptions in Vietnam. When parents are struggling to provide for their children, they sometimes want to put them into temporary care until their situation has improved – if parents are deceived, the children could be at-risk of being adopted abroad.