Photographic Exhibition documents the lives of ethnic minorities in Vietnam
The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, today launched a photographic exhibition by The Irish Times photographer, Frank Miller, which captures the lives of the Hmong people in Vietnam.
Mr. Miller received funding from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund in 2011 to travel to Vietnam and document the lives of the Hmong people, one of Vietnam’s most poor and isolated ethnic groups.
Mr. Miller visited families, schools and education projects in the remote town of Dong Van, close to the border with China. His exhibition showcases the daily lives of the Hmong people, particularly school, community and family scenes. The exhibition, entitled Minority Report, will be on display in the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre until 27th February.
Launching the exhibition, Minister Costello underlined the importance of projects such as Mr. Miller’s in highlighting the daily challenges faced by millions of people in the developing world and the important role which Ireland plays in assisting them to build a better future.
“Projects like Frank Miller’s give the Irish public a real insight into the resilience and strength of so many of our fellow citizens in the developing world. It also provides a window on the targeted and effective programmes which Ireland supports to assist thousands of families who are striving to build better futures for their children.
“Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas aid programme, is committed to assisting vulnerable communities such as the Hmong people through supporting the provision of schools, irrigation schemes and training for poor Vietnamese farmers, in addition to rural infrastructure to connect isolated communities with markets.
“I would like to warmly congratulate Frank for this stunning collection of pictures, which brings to life the challenges facing the Hmong people, but also vividly captures the joy that they so clearly take in family and community.”
Speaking about the exhibition, Mr. Miller said: “The exhibition looks at the lives of the ethnic minorities, mainly Hmong, who subsist by raising cattle and farming the rocky soils of this stunning mountainous land.
“The Hmong migrated over the border from China into Vietnam, Laos and Thailand some 300 years ago. They inhabited whatever mountainous land was available and worked out ways to survive in some of the most inhospitable, but beautiful, territory in the country. They are a hard-working people, who largely keep to themselves, except when trading or visiting local markets. Most adult rural Hmong do not speak Vietnamese, so their capacity to trade and fully interact with the majority population is limited.”
Ethnic minority groups in Vietnam make up 14% of the country’s population of 86 million. National poverty levels in Vietnam have dropped dramatically from over half of the population in 1993 to around one-tenth today. Yet more than 80% of the one million Hmong people live below the poverty line. In response, the Vietnamese government has rolled out Programme 135 to tackle poverty amongst ethnic minorities. The programme is supported by Irish Aid.