Mai’s Journey


Photo courtesy Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai

Explore the 8 Millennium Development Goals through the eyes of a young Vietnamese woman.

I went on this journey alone – even today it seems almost like a dream to me. I am not a brave person. I wear glasses, read books and play computer games. And I am passionate about wanting to help my country develop. Until recently, I didn’t think that I would be able to act so directly on my dream. Then, suddenly, I was out on dusty dirt roads in rural Viet Nam, clambering over bamboo bridges and trekking through forests and most importantly meeting lots of young people, discussing development in our country and learning about different life conditions.

My name is Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai. I am a graduate of the Hanoi Law University. I had heard about this contest that UNV in Hanoi had set up. They were looking for suggestions of how to promote volunteerism among young people for development and I had this dream of visiting the provinces in Viet Nam. I wanted to experience how people that I only know from statistics lived – the ones that do not have access to doctors, walk far to get water, survive on less than 2 dollars a day – I wanted to meet them and reflect together with them on how things could change for them. I had also heard of the Millennium Development Goals. I knew that they were 8 goals for development that all governments in the world had agreed upon to align, strengthen and support development in developing countries.  I sent in an entry for the contest, describing how I would travel by public transportation through Viet Nam, to visit the 13 poorest provinces, meeting up with young people along the way and documenting my trip in a diary that could be published on the internet. And then I won!


Mai visited 23 of Viet Nam’s 64 provinces - thirteen of these provinces have the lowest MDG indicators in Viet Nam. Read about what she learned on her unique journey: