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Quynh rides into a brighter future

Quynh is a 13-year-old girl from the Dao ethnic minority group in Vietnam. With her parents and a younger sister, she lives in Ngan Son, a mountainous district of Bac Kan Province.

Due to the hilly terrain, rice is often planted on terraced paddy fields, and most families here are reliant on agricultural activities to generate household incomes.

Quynh’s parents are no exception. With just 700 square metres of land, they plant rice for food, and grow seasonal tobacco crops for income. When not working on their own fields, they generate additional earnings by working for their neighbours, or by undertaking construction work.

In a place where hills and mountains are predominant, it is not only difficult to develop sustainable livelihoods, but can be difficult to access education.

Quynh’s school is located about 5km from her house, but the steep paths along the hills and through the woods can make her daily journey to school seem much longer.

The journey to school is much easier for Quynh (left) and her classmates now that they can travel on two wheels.

“I was often late as it took me more than an hour to walk to school. I had to wake up very early to be on time.” Quynh explains.

Her father adds: “In the winter, she left for school when the sky was still dark and only came back at dusk.” Despite these challenges, Quynh wasn’t easily discouraged from attending.

Quynh says being in the classroom means that every day she gains a little bit more knowledge; knowledge that she can share with her parents, who want her to be educated.

And she has another motivation. Quynh is working hard to achieve her ultimate goal – to become a teacher.

Quynh is determined to attend secondary school as part of her long-term plan to become a teacher.

With a new bike and some pedal power, Quynh’s daily trek to school has become much more manageable. “I can go to school earlier to finish my class duties and do exercises. I also have more time to help my parents with house chores and do my homework.

She also has long-term plans for her bike, which means she takes its ongoing maintenance very seriously. “I keep the bike in a good condition so I can keep riding it to class, even when I go to high school in town”.

For Quynh, a shorter walk to class means more time to study, to plan her life at secondary school, and dream about her future career. This young girl and her bike are tackling the hills and twists in the road one day at a time, determined to ride into a better future.

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