As part of the triathlon activities taking place this week in Vietnam, members of the media were invited to accompany professional triathlete Chris Lieto and a group of athletes and race officials on a very special visit to nearby Loc Thuy Primary School. The school, which serves 300 local students, is one of many in Vietnam that suffers a water supply unsafe for human consumption. Unsafe, that is, until recently when Lieto’s More Than Sport organization partnered with race organizers and the government’s National Target for Rural Water Supply to help bring a clean water filtration system to the school. With the new system, the students are more apt to avoid the water and sanitation-related diseases that are rampant in Vietnam; diarrhea is a leading cause of morbidity in the country and nearly 44% of Vietnamese children are infected with parasites. A second school, Hot Mit Primary School (with 97 students) is also a beneficiary of the project, and with continued fundraising efforts the hope is to provide safe water systems for five schools situated along the Laguna Lang Co Triathlon race course. Donations to this project can be made through the race website: http://www.lagunalangcotriathlon.com/triathlon-charity.html
Our visit to the school provided an opportunity to meet the children directly affected by this charitable work and celebrate together by playing fun and educational games. The games were cleverly designed to highlight proper hygiene, splitting the kids into teams that competed to win prizes of whimsical toothbrushes, soap, washcloths and water bottles (every child ended up with an armload of loot). As an example, in one room the children first ate something distasteful (such as a sour lime), then raced to thoroughly brush their teeth. In another, teams sorted through photographs of the correct steps to wash one’s hands. The games and revelry lasted throughout the afternoon and the children also treated us to inspired performances of fan dancing and a hip-hop routine. Above are some images from our incredible afternoon.
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