2015 Projects

Vietnam part 1: Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province, near former DMZ – december 14 – 22, 2015

December 12, 2015


Leonard de Caprio look-alike!

After a short flight from Hanoi to Hue, we were driven to Dong Ha, about 1 1/2 hours north.  This is where the MY STORY photo project would be working with village health workers and staff from the medical college.  Organized by Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam (MCNV), an NGO that has been around since the late 60s, this workshop  would focus on telling stories with images.  But first we were invited to a musical benefit at the imposing state theatre;  several well-known Vietnamese singers were donating their time to raise money for MCNV’s food program for malnouriched children.  And it was quite a show; including a spirited cover of Hotel California!

MCNV musical benefit

MCNV musical benefit


















Duck lady


Coopmart, where we found peanut butter, beer, Diet Coke, Pringles, and KitKat bars.

Sunday was a day off to explore Dong Ha, mainly find the local supermarket and the BBQ duck lady for dinner!  Motorbikes and  electric bikes are everywhere, 90% wearing helmets (mandatory).    We walked everywhere because we could not find any bicycles to rent.  That was pleasant in the cool, damp weather, but when rain arrived early in the week we were glad to have 2 of MCNV’s sturdy umbrellas!


photo: Mr. Sau






December 14, 2015

Mr Quong, director of the Dong Ha MCNV office arrives at our hotel to drive us to the Quang Tri Medical College, where MCNV has its office and we will do the training.  It’s on the outskirts of the city, past several large government buildings, all that lovely warm salmon color.  The college has 800 students in nursing and pharmaceuticals.  There are two main buildings, one for MCNV and one full of classrooms, while a long, low building in back was once a dorm for students and now houses a couple of offices and a small museum for MCNV.

Ha does a wheelie in front of the college.  photo:  Thanh

Ha does a wheelie in front of the college.
photo: Thanh












There are 11 students, including Binh, who will also be our translator.  Three women, seven guys, ages 20 something to 70.  Their names are a challenge; Vietnamese is tonal, like Thai, and we are fooled into thinking we can get the pronunciation because the alphabet is Roman.  Ha!  Not a chance!  We try and fail, and try again, and fail, and then we all have a giggle.

Inside courtyard of Medical College

Inside courtyard of Medical College


Here they are:


Dao photo:Phoung













































photo: Thanh


Mr. Sau photo: Thach

Mr. Sau
photo: Thach


Phuong photo: Mr. Ly

photo: Ly

First day of the workshop:


Binh translates Nat


Figuring out all those settings

Susan explains....

Susan explains….












Our hotel, Huu Ngi (Friendship) boasted a coffee shop with an espresso machine and a sauna.  The cappuccino and latte were good and the sauna (really a steam bath) was blisteringly hot!  Felt good on a cold rainy day, though.


Latte at the TicTicTalk Cafe


Breakfast at the hotel














Living love at TicTicTalk Cafe!





Shoot something moving!

Binh airborne photo: Ly

Binh airborne
photo: Ly


photo: Ngoi






























Get close to your subject:

One of many locks photo: Ngoi

One of many locks
photo: Ngoi


Paper butterflies
photo: Binh



Blue shirt photo: Thang

Blue shirt
photo: Thang


















One of the assignments was to shoot photos in some of the nursing and pharmacy classes:


Mouth to mouth…
photo: Mr. Sau



Dummies waiting for nursing students.

Dummies waiting for nursing students.












Field trip to the Dong Ha market.  Students had to shoot a  photo essay on the market, with one photo from each person.  After much discussion, they decided on their story, assigned shots, and off we went.


Dao makes a point during photo story planning at the hotel, before setting out.


Mr. Sau goes over shot list

Mr. Sau goes over shot list












Phuong and Dao are ready to roll.

Phuong and Dao are ready to roll.



With the Christmas tree in the hotel lobby.

With the Christmas tree in the hotel lobby.











And we’re off to the market in the medical college ambulance!













Scenes from the market:


Did we get the picture?



Mr. Sau and fine feathered friend.














9 (2)

Lime seller
photo: Ly



Binh checks out the chickens
































Now came the hard part: editing their photos down to 3 each plus artist portrait for the closing exhibition.


They all have to agree on everybody’s choices.


And it all comes together!


After many attempts, we succeeded in finding blank CDs for student images.  Google Translate had us asking for transparent CDs, not white ones, as they are called here!













Putting up the show.

Putting up the show.




Is it straight?


















Nursing students come to the show.






Certificates are presented:

Binh gets special thanks as translator.

Binh gets special thanks as translator.


Xoi and his certificate



















A final coffee with Quong and Tung.  Thank you!

A final coffee with Quong and Tung. Thank you!

We said good-bye to our wonderful hosts at MCNV and headed up north to Cao Bang, Vietnam part 2.


Goodbye Huu Nghi!



Dong Ha was pretty much destroyed during the war.  This is a powerful reminder.



Ordnance from the American war in front of the hotel. ‘No War’ is painted on one of the pieces.



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