Young Vietnamese show love for mountain kids via 10,000-photo project
A young Vietnamese, along with his friends, who were all born in 1990, has completed a project called “Vietnam Free Foto For Children,” which was aimed at taking 10,000 free photos for mountain kids.
The four-member team includes Bui Thi Kim Phuong, Nguyen Quang Tuan, Phung Ba Hung and Do Van Hung.
All of them have the same passion for photography and love for mountain children.
Do Van Hung, the leader, has used his profound passion for photography and travel to mark memorable moments in his life since he was a student at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi.
Even though having a camera at that time was an unreachable dream for a student from the suburbs who went to study in Hanoi, Hung still tried to learn how to take photos.
After graduating in 2012, he went to Singapore for a three-month internship program, where he saved money by doing part-time jobs and was finally able to buy a Canon 60D.
Hung went to Thailand as an ASEAN teacher to teach Vietnamese to Thai students. There, he came up with the project to take 10,000 free portrait photos for mountain children and started to write down the plan.
Hung randomly chose the number of photos based on a film he watched called “Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War”. Although it seemed to be a huge number, Hung said he initially decided to try his best to complete the project.
“I saw many mountain children and even adults who never had their own photo when I was a student traveling to these regions. At that time, I thought I wanted to do something for the children living there. The first thing I thought about was a photo, which was not only economical but also fun and durable,” Hung explained.
Before returning to Vietnam from Thailand, Hung shared his idea with Phuong and Ba Hung. All of them found the project meaningful and achievable.
“When I heard Hung talking about his project, I believed that he could do it as it was not too difficult to achieve. We could do it individually or as a small group with a camera and a printer. Moreover, I thought the project was meaningful for mountain children,” Phuong said.
Before running the project, Hung previously took free photos, printed and gave them out to some 450 mountain children in early 2013.
“That activity was a premise of my project. However, at that time, I didn’t have enough equipment and had to ask my friends to help print the photos and give them to the children. It was inconvenient,” Hung remembered.
Therefore, besides his teaching job, Hung drafted a detailed plan that listed all the places he wanted to go during his project and asked for photo papers from sponsors.
In March 2014, Hung returned to Vietnam and ran the project with his friends. Along with Ba Hung, he went to Meo Vac District in northern Ha Giang Province, about 300km from Hanoi, to carry out field work.
The team also welcomed Nguyen Quang Tuan, an amateur photographer who shared the same passion and thoughts with Hung.
“I have seen many people visiting mountainous regions and taking a lot of photos. However, children living there would never get those pictures,” Tuan explained why he tried to contact Hung’s team on Facebook and asked to join the project.
Mountain children surround Hung to watch the photo printing process. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Never give up
Before each trip, Hung and his friends had to carefully prepare equipment such as printers, printing ink, cameras and food to save time and take as many photos as they can.
One of the difficulties the team members mentioned was the danger of mountainous regions. Besides tiny roads along cliffs, this area also threatens visitors with rock slides and treacherous terrain, especially during rainy days.
Hung said these difficulties helped him have a better understanding of the teachers living there, who had been killed or injured in traffic accidents or rock slides but still tried their best to teach children.
Another difficulty that the team faced was the lack of printing paper and ink as 10,000 was a huge number of photos. After returning to Hanoi from a long trip to mountainous regions, Hung and his friends had to prepare enough materials for their next journey.
A picture from Hung's project shows two mountain children playing together
“There were many times when we were unable to get more printing paper, or the printer broke down. That was our tough time but I never thought about giving up the project,” Hung said.
As an amateur photographer, Quang Tuan tried to promote the project to his customers and asked for printing paper, while Phuong sold small stuff like books, notebooks and clothes to raise funds for the team.
The four young Vietnamese ran an exhibition in Hanoi to display photos of mountain children in July 2014 for more money to continue the project.
Besides their own happiness during the journey, each team member also shared a similar emotional moment when they were surrounded by mountain children.
“That was the first time they had seen a camera and printer. They were so curious and surrounded the printing areas, waiting for their photos coming out from the printer. Some even skipped their nap,” Hung recollected.
During the trip, the team also met old people who wanted to have photos as a souvenir for their children, or a couple who has been married for a long time but did not have any wedding photos.
Hung also noted information about disabled children living in poor conditions to upload on Facebook and ask for help from philanthropists.
“Many of my friends want to find a job after graduation to make more money. However, since I was a student, I have planned to spend two years doing things that I love and follow my passion. Through this project, I have a lot of priceless experiences and a huge number of photos of the Vietnamese mountainous region as well as many new friends,” Hung said.
Do Van Hung, 24, initiated the project of taking and printing 10,000 free photos of needy kids in the northwestern mountainous region in March 2014. Hung conducted his project in many villages in 11 remote communes in Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Hoa Binh Provinces.
He completed targeted 10,000 photos and wrap up his project by December 2014. After the project, Hung and his friends may launch a similar one with children in rural areas of central and southern provinces in 2015 and now project open to Lao,Cambodia and Myanmar with nam: Give Smile Asia project for 10,000 children in Asia.
Children excitedly show the photos of them.
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