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Assessing the situation in Hai Lang

With most of the team given a three-line-whip to attend a big co-ordination meeting in Hanoi, it’s left to me and Phuong, a Vietnamese colleague from Hanoi and Ngyat, who is based in the education team in Quang Tri to continue assessing the situation in Hai Lang – a low lying district in the province that is still under at least a metre of water.

We have meetings with the district and commune level local governments who help to get us a boat to travel around the affected region. The water only subsided today – five days after the typhoon. Again it’s the poorest family who have been worst affected.

We meet ten year old Tuan and his grandmother. Their house is away from the rest of the village and only accessible by boat. Looking inside it is just an empty shell – no bed, no table, no kitchen equipment – just a bare dirt floor and mud-stained bamboo walls. He tells us he is scared and thinks the house may collapse. I can’t bear to think that he will be spending the night in this house. His grandmother is an earnest woman and seems grateful for our visit. I hope we can help.

I spend the evening organising interviews. I speak to my local radio station and when I put the phone down I feel like I have just said the word ‘devastating’ over and over again. Possibly not the best interview I’ve ever done – but it’s the word that keeps coming to mind.

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