Remove a Mine, Change a Life -- Thu's Story

Nguyen Dinh Thu is not unlike your typical farmer. He gets up at the crack of dawn, grabs his farming tools with his wrists and goes out to work his fields. The tasks of picking and plowing are simple and easy to most, but in the case of Thu, who lost both of his hands when his rake struck a bomb left over from the Vietnam War, just the act of moving his plow back and forth takes skill and concentration.

The majority of victims in Vietnam from unexploded ordnances (UXOs) -- explosive weapons that did not explode when they were employed -- work outdoors, like Thu.

But despite his challenges, Thu is in a much better place than he was just a few years ago.


With the help of Roots of Peace, Thu has the tools to build a better life for himself. He now works with tools that are designed for his disability. He's been given farming resources like seedlings and fertilizer, and he's participated in training seminars that have taught him new and efficient methods of production.

As a result, his crops have almost doubled in yield, which gives him extra income to expand his business and send his kids to school.


"I think and I hope after Roots of Peace's help, my children's future will be brighter. I hope the project will help us much, much longer, and that in time I will be able to produce other trees well on my land," said Thu.

Thu is just one example of the work Roots of Peace is doing in Vietnam. Working with local community members, Roots of Peace is gradually transforming contaminated and struggling farms into thriving businesses, having assisted over 1,800 farmers with their black pepper crops.

This agricultural support is done through a careful process of returning the land to productivity, giving farmers the resources to grow viable crops and working with local merchants and traders to ensure that those crops are sold effectively. Using this approach, many farmers like Thu have seen their incomes improve dramatically.

But there's still a lot of work to do. Out of all UXO-affected households in the province, 72 percent earn less than $130 per year, compared to the average income of $330 per year. This makes teaching and helping farmers all the more important.

We measure our success just like any other business: through return on investment. This year, our farmers are seeing an $765 increase in annual income, on average.

In time, Thu will be able to manage and expand his farm without assistance from Roots of Peace; it's Roots of Peace's hope that others will follow him. Creating thriving, self-sustaining communities in areas that have been devastated by war is the objective of every Roots of Peace mission. We continue to believe that in the most devastated war-torn and contaminated areas exists the potential for lasting peace and prosperity.

When asked about Roots of Peace's impact on his life, Thu said. "Before this project I saw just a little hope in the future, but now I see a bright future -- full of faith and hope."

To help Thu and other farmers in Vietnam, you can contribute today. What will you donation do? Let us tell you!

  • $5 will provide five pepper tree cuttings for a farmer in Vietnam.
  • $15 will supply three support structures for pepper vines in Vietnam.
  • $20 provide a year's worth of training for a rural farmer on production and marketing techniques.
  • $100 will supply a farmer with organic fertilizer for two years in Vietnam.
  • $200 will provide a "starter kit" to a farmer in Vietnam.

This campaign is part of a six-week social entrepreneur challenge on Crowdrise with the Skoll Foundation and The Huffington Post.

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