Sisters facilitate food trading program that spreads nutrition around Vietnam

I'hon, left, heads home on a motorcycle driven by her daughter after the food exchange at the convent. (GSR/Joachim Pham)

On a hot Sunday in March, I'hon, a 70-year-old Ba Na ethnic woman, carried bunches of bananas to the Saint Paul de Chartres Sisters' convent in Kon Tum City to exchange them for rice.

She immediately ate some of the bread she received and guzzled down a mug of water. "I haven't had anything to eat this morning. I am so hungry and thirsty," she said with a smile.

I'hon prepared to take her rice home, saying she has exchanged bananas for other basic food at the convent on a weekly basis for years. Her village is 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from the convent in the Central Highlands, home to dozens of ethnic minority groups struggling to survive.

"We are old and live in poverty. Bananas are our major source of income," said I'hon, who is thin and dressed shabbily. She and her husband cultivate some 50 banana trees on their farm.

She gives the nuns five to seven bunches of bananas each time (about 100 fruits on average) and receives rice, instant noodles, dried bread and fish from them in return.

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