Most kids might find waiting outside their home for a school bus a bit boring. But it sure beats the way kids are getting to school in Huoi Hua, a northern province in Vietnam. They don’t do things the way people do it in America. Their idea of school transportation is a complicated one and, in some cases, a dangerous task you have to see to believe. But for students in this village, it’s simply a way of life. Nothing more. Nothing less.The village is one of the most remote and difficult villages to get to and out of in the Muong Cha district of the Dien Bien province in northwestern Vietnam. The whole village has 75 households with about 500 people.
Flooding causes the bamboo bridge to get swept away, which forces people of all ages to use bamboo rafts and stretch ropes to get across the stream safely, but even then, there are some serious risks.
The currents can be very powerful, which is why no child would ever be allowed to make this dangerous journey all on their own without an adult to supervise and guide them to the other side safely.
They have breakfast, get dressed, and then they get ready to go on a perilous trek through a forest and a flood stream to get to school. In the end, it takes them over 5 hours to get there and 5 hours to come home.
So, they have to gather all of their school items together. This makes it easier to carry when they get ready to make the great crossing through the river. But you won’t believe how they do this without getting wet.
This is sort of a ritual for over 50 school students who place their belongings in a plastic bag and then get adults, usually a parent, to pull the items through the stream. But that’s not the only thing that gets in the bag.
The kids have to go inside the bags too, and it’s safe to say they’re terrified. But they’re willing to accept this dangerous mode of transportation to get an education that will hopefully help them escape poverty someday.
A relative or healthy villager is assigned to help drag these bagged children across the river. It’s not the typical way that most mommies say “have a great day at school,” but for the villagers here, this method really works.
If the man were to lose his grip or if he makes even the tiniest mistake, the child inside the bag could get swept away by the strong flood waters. But those in charge of this task know how valuable their precious cargo is.
They stare anxiously at the river as their turn approaches. They know they’re putting their lives on the line to get to school, but they also know how valuable it is to get an education. So, they risk life and limb to do this.
The villagers gather together to guide the students safely through the stream by whatever means necessary. This ensures that the odds of everything going alright works in their favor, and not against them.
A sturdier bridge was proposed by the village’s municipality. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough money to justify the expenditure of investing in the construction of a whole new suspension bridge.
Most kids seem relieved when they make it to the other side with their belongings relatively dry for the most part. But they have the villagers to thank for putting it all on the line to ensure they make it every time.
Crossing the river is simply too dangerous during flood season. So, until the villagers manage to raise enough funds to build a bridge, this is the safest way for kids to get to school. Now that’s one way to use plastic productively.
Most kids in the western world skip school to do frivolous things like hanging with their friends, but these kids put their lives at risk to get to school. Of course, there are other ways for kids to travel across the river.
A man can try and ferry these eager students across the river using a raft made of bamboo, but this method comes with risks. A strong current could easily cause the raft to tip, putting the child’s life in danger.
It’s a cool way to prepare for a tough day of learning by rejoicing in the beautiful greenery while listening to the soothing sound of the flowing river. For these kids, it’s less terrifying and more of a way of life.
Now all they have to do is head to school. Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of their journey. It’s just the beginning. But what else do they possibly have to do besides survive a deadly river? How about a hike?
Since the journey itself is difficult on these kids, the villagers aren’t willing to let them go through it every single day. So instead, the students will stay in school all week and return home on the weekends.
So, if anyone has kids who complain about waking up in the morning to go to school, they could learn a thing or two from these kids who float across a river in plastic bags and travel 15 kilometers to school every week.