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Behind the photographs

Taking photos is such a familiar concept in our lives. Nowadays Facebookers can easily capture their memorable moments whenever they like using portable smartphones.

However, with ethnic people, that is a luxury.

“I take a photo for the whole family, okay?”, I asked.

“Well … is it expensive? My family is very poor”, said Mr. Giang A Pao.

That naive question coming from our ethnic host made us astonished.

H'Mong people enjoyed photographs of themselves and their family

H’Mong people enjoyed photographs of themselves and their family

A Pao’s house lie behind the classroom of Phe Pha village. His wife was the one who guided us along the steep trail to go into the village. After we took pictures and give the kids some balloons, as she cannot speak national Vietnamese, she kept making signs to invite us to come in and visit the house. We, complete strangers from far away land, were welcomed with such warm, intimate atmosphere.

While talking to the host couple, we noticed that their son, Giang A Sang, was pretty interested in the huge DSLR camera hanging on our necks. My companion generously gave him her camera to try. The 9th grader received the camera with curiosity yet hesitation. The first few clicks were fun as well as nervous for him.

“The photos that I took were so bad”, he said sheepishly.

“Would you like to learn the photography apprenticeship?” – I asked jokingly.

“I really like, but if I go to school there would be no one to look after the breeding”

He replied with a big bright smile, just as the meaning of his name. Yet we felt our heart sank a little. He is in 9th grade this year, very near to graduating from secondary school…

A family in Phe Pha village

That day A Pao’s family were very excited that they got to be photographed “for free”. The whole family dressed up in excitement. Even their bike, Dream branded, the most valuable asset of the family was also pictured. Next time we come here, these photos will be our gifts to the hospitable “host” family of Phe Pha village, Lung Ho.

There are such small tiny things in life that sometimes we forget how lucky we are that we have them. Simple thing such as… photography.

Let us together, share a bit of our luck to the people who are in need. A new school, a new opportunity … to the next generations of H’mong people so they can choose for themselves the best possible future.

Feeling embarrassed being in a photo for the first time

Feeling embarrassed being in a photo for the first time

Writen by Chau Nguyen. Translated by Linh.

Photo credit to Chau Nguyen & Trang Nguyen

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School for Kids - Vietnam

School for Kids – Vietnam