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During 2023-2024, Samaritan’s Purse installed new infrastructure to improve access to clean water for 10 schools in Vietnam’s Lao Cai’s province. This includes borehole wells, hand-washing stations, and filtered water fountains.

104 teachers received hygiene and sanitation training to coach more than 5,000 students and parents on the importance of handwashing before meals, after toilet usage, as well as menstrual hygiene management.

Each school established student Water and Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) clubs, equipping 156 students to influence a positive hygiene culture amongst their peers.

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Nestled in the far-northern highlands of Vietnam, Sa Pa primary school is home to nearly 300 students. In addition to classes, the school provides meals, drinking water, communal bathrooms and lodging for students.

Each year, the dry months between January and March impact the school and surrounding commune, disrupting basic aspects of daily life. Intermittent access to water hinders the ability to prepare meals, operate toilets, showers, and drinking water. Poor plumbing maintenance gave way to burst pipes, polluting the school’s reserve tank with mud and sediment, which they spend precious litres of water to rinse clean.

To secure enough water to wash and prepare the day’s meals, Principal Van, her staff, and students would each take turns fetching buckets of water from nearby homes. The shortage would also force students to resort to dry/drop toilets and irregular showers to conserve water for drinking and meals.

In February of this year, Samaritan’s Purse Water and Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) teams successfully reached a water source on the school grounds via a borehole well. That same day, there had been an outage throughout the village, disrupting the school’s ability to prepare the next day’s meals.

Although the well was a success, the pump had not yet arrived to extract water to the tank. That evening, Principal Van leapt to action, borrowing a pump from a local plumber to initiate the flow of running water to the school’s bathrooms, washrooms and kitchen facilities. In the late hours of the evening, the water ran clear.

“That night, we were able to find a pump, so after about five hours, the water became clear. We were able to use the water.”

“For the past two months, there has been no rain. There was even a forest fire because the weather had been so dry.”
– Van, Principal, Sa Pa Primary School

Overnight, the well and the borrowed pump transformed the school. The recently installed handwashing stations could flow water and toilet blocks could now flush. Showers could resume and kitchen staff could now prepare meals without rationing.


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Together with new WASH infrastructure, each school established student WASH Clubs to provide interactive sessions and practical demonstrations for students to promote a positive hygiene culture amongst each other while fostering leadership skills.

Each year, students from the province’s WASH clubs participate in an innovation contest, where they would submit concepts to benefit their school, community, and environment.

At Sa Pa Primary WASH club members Mau and Thanh shared their winning project from last year’s innovation contest; a two-compartment composting unit designed to process the school’s kitchen food scraps.

Funded by Samaritan’s Purse, the school implemented the compost system. Today the dual-chamber tumbler processes all the school’s biodegradable waste, providing fertile soil for the school’s flowerbed and vegetable gardens. Thanh who is in Year 5 shared;

“I’m a member of the Wash Club. I was able to share with my fellow students about how to have good hygiene and sanitation practices and behaviours.

And the teachers also organised drawing contest with the topic of school. I was so excited and so happy to be able to join the WASH clubs, thank you very much.

So we were able to create hygiene and sanitation projects, we constructed a twin-barrel where we can separate the waste to make compost. We will use the compost as fertiliser for the flowers and vegetable garden.”

Principal Hoang shared how encouraged she and the staff have been to witness the impact of the Samaritan’s Purse WASH project has had on the students attending their school. Her joy was truly overflowing.

“In the past there was no water for us flush the toilets. It was impossible for us to keep the toilets clean. Our dream and our desire for years had finally come true. We now have our well, where we could own and manage. We’re so proud that we can own a well. So on behalf of the school, we are so thankful for all your support and for addressing all the needs that we faced.”

In 2023, Samaritan’s Purse Water and Sanitation/Hygiene (WASH) staff have been working to improve access to clean water for 10 schools including Sa Pa primary, reaching more than 5,000 students, parents, and staff.

Through Child Hygiene Access and Promotion in School (CHAPS) initiatives, these comprehensive WASH projects are on track to bless over 5,000 students, parents, and teachers from 10 schools in the rural highlands of Lao Cai. The provision of crucial infrastructure, combined with the cultivating of hygiene practices, and the nurturing of students aspirations, we can hope to demonstrate God’s love towards families, schools and communities in districts like Sa Pa and beyond.

“I believe there is something special when people from many countries, many cultures, can join together to wish for blessings for the students together.”
– Dave Kletzing, Country Director, Samaritan’s Purse Vietnam

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