BAN DOONG SCHOOL

Ban Doong village was established in 1992 by a group of Bru-Van Kieu people, who moved from Quang Ninh district to Hung Doong region to hide out from a tremendous flood. At the present time, there are 12 households with a total of 50 people based in Ban Doong.

The people here live mainly on cultivating and raising buffaloes, cows, cattle, etc. to trade with residents in the lowlands. The village is located deep inside the forest without any roads connected. The only way to reach the village is via a 4km walking trail, crossing over 3 steep hills (called Ba Giàn) from Ho Chi Minh Highway West. Ban Doong is located in the strictly protected area of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park's core zone. The village was settled before the government officially recognized Phong Nha - Ke Bang as a national park, so villagers still live in the area that they have moved in till today, for nearly 30 years.

Ban Doong School was founded in 2008-2009 (more than 10 years ago). Initially established, the school had to borrow homesteads from local people for the class and taught literacy programs from 2009 to 2010 for adults, aged 18-40 by teacher Nguyen Van Dat. Since 2010, the school has been officially taught the school education program for children. The number of students was 6, born in 2005. The headteacher of grade 1 was Hoang Van Sau. Schooling facilities at that time were extremely temporary, mainly relying on the help of students' parents and villagers. In October 2010, when teachers, students, and villagers together had just finished building up a makeshift school, another flood swept away all assets in the village, including the school. After that, teachers and students had to set up tents to continue learning. In March 2011, the tent was damaged, and the teacher had to contact a local family to ask for a temporary place in their house to teach from 2011 to 2013.

In the summer of 2013, the People's Committee of Tan Trach commune helped build a temporary classroom with recycled woods and palm leaf roofing. Until 2015, the school's roof was completely damaged and could no longer be put in use. Fortunately, during that time, the school had received the attention of the authorities and the donors, especially Oxalis with funding and remodeling a new temporary school on the basis of the old one. It had 3 rooms, including 2 classrooms and 1 rest room for teachers with a total cost of 150 million VND (including setting up water pipes fees for the villagers).

After having a more spacious school sponsored by Oxalis, teachers and students thought they were assured to keep on teaching and learning. However, in October 2020, an unexpected flood hit the country and completely flooded 5 houses in Ban Doong, including the school. Since the school was built from lightweight materials, it was floated on the water but when the water receded, it did not return to the original position and partly inclined, leading to a very high risk of collapsing. Once again, teachers and students were forced to borrow villagers' homes to continue teaching.

As suggested by the local authorities and the school administration, the Oxalis Foundation had mobilized resources to construct a new school in Ban Doong village so that the children can have a good place to study and a shelter for villagers to avoid storms, floods in rainy seasons as well. Because Ban Doong school is located in the core zone of UNESCO's world natural heritage Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, far from residential areas and villagers still has many difficulties in residential life, so 100% of the building materials must be brought in and carried by manpower from the outside, mobilized workforces in Phong Nha area. Finally, after 3 months of efforts (from January 2021 to 3/2021), the new school has been completed and ready for use with a total investment of nearly 1 billion VND. The funds were raised from the Oxalis Foundation's capital as well as contributions from domestic organizations and individuals. It was built on the land of Mr. Tran Van Su and Ms. Nguyen Thi Chim - a local family in the village who voluntarily donated land for the school. The new school is located on a high ground of 150m2, ensuring flood protection. It was built by hardened steel frames, metal roofing with heat-resistant palm leaves, wall covered with faux wood panels that not only to avoids heat but also creates a sense of environmental friendliness. There are 2 floors, including 6 rooms: 02 rooms for teachers and 04 classrooms for students;

According to the report from project team, in order to build this school, Oxalis had to mobilize 125 porter employees in a total of 600 working days to carry more than 80 tons of equipment and materials from the outside. Because there aren’t any roads lead to the village, only mountain trails with steep hills, so all materials and equipment were carried on the porter back.

The total cost to build Ban Doong school is 926 million VND, the expense was raised from the Oxalis Foundation and contributions from other organizations and individuals such as Saigon Children Charity CIO, TMG Group, individuals such as Mr. Nghia (Cau Giay District, Hanoi), Anh Hoang Tuan (Quang Binh), Anh Long (Quang Binh Newspaper), Ms. Ngo Hai Chau (HCMC), and contributions from many Hang En and Son Doong customers.

As agreed by the local government as well as the school management, on March 31, 2021, Oxalis Foundation and donors' representatives held the Opening and Handover Ceremony of Ban Doong School to Tan Trach Commune's Primary and Secondary School for Ethnic Minorities, under the recognized of People's Committee of Bo Trach District and Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park Management Board.

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