In Vietnam, teenagers have crossed treacherous terrain to school for decade

Three teen sisters in southern Vietnam have braved precarious roads and a raging river to journey to school for the past decade. Such unfavorable conditions have left many students in Don Chau Commune, Duyen Hai District, Tra Vinh Province dropping out of school. Quach Thi Linh Dan, in 11th grade, and her two younger sisters, Linh Kieu, a 10th grader, and Linh Thao, a 5th grader, remain undaunted, however. The trio cover nearly 10km from home to school every day, including three kilometers of tortuous, slippery dirt road and a river which can turn wrathful at times. After school dismissed on a recent afternoon, Kieu hurriedly cycled home before dusk. She said twilight makes her daily journey in pursuit of knowledge even more perilous, as she may easily tumble into shrimp farms near the less taken small road in the dark. Worse still, the 3km stretch of dirt road, which is hardly wide enough for two motorbikes to cross at the same time, is riddled with bumps and gets precariously slippery in the rainy weather. “In the rainy season, I leave my bike at a house on the asphalt road and wade home on foot with the flaps of my uniform ao dai [traditional long dress] tucked inside my jacket,” the girl shared. Unlike her peers, Kieu and her two sisters have never wasted any moments loitering around for fun after school. Dan revealed they were all scared taking the roads where few houses are on at dawn or dusk.…

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