From small children to the elderly, poverty-stricken residents in Hong Thuy Commune, the Central province of Thua Thien Hue have taken up a new full-time activity – searching a local river for gold.
After several recent storms devastated central provinces, many families were left with nothing. Floods wiped out farmers’ crops leaving them to face extreme hardship and suffering. Most now rely on food aid from the local government.
With no crops left to cultivate, desperate locals began looking for other ways to eke out a living.
A rumor began circulating that someone had found gold in A Luoi District’s Kroong River, and soon everyone began sifting through the muddy waters looking for the precious metal.
Children sift for gold in the Kroong River in Hong Thuy Commune, Thua Thien Hue Central Province. After recent storms devastated central provinces, locals redidents began flocking to the Kroong River looking for gold. (Photo: SGGP)
An eight-year-old boy named Tran Van Quy said he needs to earn money to help his mother and sister, and yesterday found VND25,000 worth of gold in the river. As he spoke to the reporter, he continued to work, patiently scooping sand into a basket, then sifting for gold.
Many children the same age as Quy have also dropped out of school to search for gold, as their desperate families have no food or income.
Mua Thi Sen, eight years old, said her school is located far from her house and the road there was destroyed by flooding. She has had to drop out of school to help her parents sift for gold as the family has run out of rice and has nothing left to eat but corn and manioc.
Many teachers from local schools have come to visit the children and asked them to return, but most only came back for a few days and then stopped coming altogether, said teacher Tran Minh Can from Hong Thuy Secondary school.
According to the chairman of Hong Thuy Commune People’s Committee, Ho Ba Binh, local authorities have asked residents to stop searching for gold and return to farming, but most have refused saying it’s not feasible.
Thirty-two-year-old Mua A Xinh said the food provided by the local government was not enough to feed his family, so he must try to search for gold.
Chairman of A Luoi District People’s Committee Ho Chi Thoi said district authorities are trying to raise money to help residents and encouraging them to start rebuilding their farms.