A Humbling Journey: Bringing Food to Vietnam's Central Highlands
A Humbling Journey: Bringing Food to Vietnam's Central Highlands

A Humbling Journey: Bringing Food to Vietnam’s Central Highlands

A Humbling Journey: Bringing Food to Vietnam’s Central Highlands

Hi Friends,

I had the opportunity to take a humbling and eye-opening trip to Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Along with a friend, I journeyed to a remote village with the goal of distributing food to impoverished families. While the poverty we encountered was heartbreaking, the joy and gratitude we saw when giving out simple gifts of nourishment reminded me of our shared humanity. In just a short visit, we tried to make a small difference in struggling families’ lives. The experience reinforced that through compassion and understanding, we have the power to bring more light into the world around us.

A lot of people live in homes like this in the aera
A lot of people live in homes like this in the aera

In this article, I wanted to share some moments and reflections from our time in the Central Highlands. Join me in learning about the hardship but also resilience we encountered in this little-seen corner of Vietnam. Perhaps it will inspire you to also look for ways, big or small, to give back however you can.

One of the more well kept local roads
One of the more well-kept local roads

Arriving in the Village, in Vietnam’s Central Highlands

After an overnight bus ride from Hoi An *About 10 hours), my friend and I arrived at daybreak in a remote village in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. We were here to help distribute food to impoverished families.  This is the region we traveled to : Dak Lak – Central Highlands region

The Town we arrived at
The Town we arrived at

As we explored the local market and had a simple breakfast, I was struck by the poverty I saw all around me.

5 Kids and one adult live in this hut
5 Kids and one adult live in this hut

When we met up with our local guides, my heart sank further as we rode motorbikes through rural villages. Outside ramshackle huts, I saw families of five or more sharing small, homes with dirt floors. They had almost no possessions. It was tremendously sad to see how little they had.

The boy in the red had a wicked sad story, his sister is the little one on the right, both were victims of gangs who burth they legs in a fire
The boy in the red had a wicked sad story, his sister is the little one on the right, both were victims of gangs who burth they legs in a fire

Distributing Food and Supplies around Vietnam’s Central Highlands Village

We spent the morning visiting village homes, handing out gift baskets of food we had brought to help these families celebrate I think the fall festival. Though initially shy, the villagers’ faces soon lit up with gratitude. The delight of the parents, especially the children, made the long journey worthwhile.

Most kids were very happy to get the gift bag
Most kids were very happy to get the gift bag

After an afternoon nap and meal, we continued spreading meals and cheer through the afternoon at a community gathering of over 300 people. This had dragon dances, and performances from kids. All very great to see.

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As heavy rains moved in, we reluctantly had to cut our trip short and took the evening buss back to Hoi An (10 hours back) after the community event. But in just a day, we had made a difference, or so I hope.

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Reflecting on the Experience

The long bus rides back gave me time to reflect on what I had seen.

The poverty troubled me deeply. Our guide explained that child trafficking is an issue in one case of a brother and sister who were kidnaped and forced to work with a local gang; when they tried to escape, they burnt their legs in a fire. Why would people do that to kids even? Why?

The local organization ended up recusing them, but now they live in a small shamble with little idea of how to survive. The idea of innocent kids being exploited made my blood boil. And yet the people we met showed resilience and care for each other despite their struggles. Parents tried their best to provide for their families. Neighbors helped neighbors. My heart went out to them.

Finding Small Ways to Help

This experience reminded me how much hardship exists in the world, but also how giving back can make a real difference. While I cannot single-handedly cure global poverty, I can find small ways to give – donating to education funds, volunteering locally, spreading awareness. Simple acts of compassion matter.

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The joy those gift baskets brought reinforced our shared humanity, regardless of circumstances. If we keep our hearts open to understanding others’ struggles, while doing what we can to ease their burden, we spread more light.

Though there is still injustice and inequality, kindness and care for each other can help heal the world.

I won’t forget the smiles our efforts brought, and will look for more ways, big and small, to give back.

This little guy was not too happy, but after running to his mom, was happy for the gift
This little guy was not too happy, but after running to his mom, he was happy about the gift
A really nice Granma we visited
A really nice Granma we visited.

Please Note:

I want to note that the photos shared here were only taken with the permission of our local Vietnamese guides. They facilitated introductions and translations with the villagers we met and helped advise me on respectfully capturing some moments without intruding on sensitive aspects of people’s lives. I tried my best to honor the graciousness of the local community members who welcomed us. That’s why you won’t see any photos with me in them – I wanted the focus to be on their stories without inserting myself.

Our guides ensured I had consent and avoided exploiting or exposing people’s poverty and struggles. My aim was to share this experience while prioritizing the dignity of the Central Highlanders who opened their homes and lives to us.

Tim on a Rock
Tim on a Rock
Roaming Sparrow is a project by Tim Mack. It is a life on the road, an adventure to gain knowledge and share genuine experiences.
Find some great experences, check out Viator!

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