Hoan’s story: Weaving her way out of poverty

Posted on April 30, 2018

Hoan (right) weaves her shrimp traps

Hoan, 30, lives in Da Bac, Vietnam, with her husband, mother-in-law and two children. Hoan belongs to the Muong people – one of Vietnam’s 53 ethnic minority groups.

Unfortunately, these groups often suffer extreme poverty as they live mainly in remote areas, including the mountainous Da Bac region. Here, they have far less access to employment, education and health care.

Trapped in poverty

Like other Muong women in Da Bac, Hoan had lots of different jobs to make a living. Her main source of income was from catching and selling shrimp from Hoa Binh Lake, but she was struggling to earn enough to feed her family.

Hoan had tried to make her own shrimp traps, which involved splitting bamboo sticks by hand. Shrimp traps must be made of smooth bamboo using good weaving techniques. Without the correct equipment and training, Hoan was unable to make strong traps, and had to resort to buying traps from traders – a huge expense for her small-scale business.

Weaving a better way

We helped Hoan and other women in her village learn to weave their own traps using a bamboo-splitting machine.

The machine splits and smooths bamboo sticks in seconds. With help from the machine, Hoan can now weave up to 30 traps per day and save thousands of dollars every year. She also earns extra income from selling her traps to other shrimp catchers.

The women also discovered that using native bamboo increased the life span and efficiency of each trap. Their traps last twice as long as those they used to purchase from traders.

“I usually collect bamboo as I herd the cows so that we have the material even on rainy days,” said Hoan.

“Thanks to the money saved from trap weaving and selling, our family has extras to support our children in education and invest in other farming practices as well.”

Taste the difference

Taste the local shrimp and try your hand at trap-weaving when you Trek Vietnam with us in March 2019.