The purpose of this trip was to document the life of some of the ethnic minorities living in the mountains and down the valleys of north Vietnam, near the border with China. I was particularly interested in portraying the conditions of ethnic women. While I was in Vietnam for other reasons, I was told by some contacts in Hanoi that these communities live, most of the times, in very poor and extremely hard conditions, in villages which are forgotten and left to themselves. The legal institutions, in Vietnam's recent "rush to capitalism/consumerism" have no time to worry about these few individuals and prefer to turn a blind eye and forget about them.
I believe our perception of these minorities is not correct. It is based, mainly, on the images/stories we get from the Sapa tourist area"¦ the real situation is quite different. The conditions of the ethnic groups living away from the tourist path are much tougher and much more difficult. I was told that these minorities receive help from the government. From what I have seen it is not always so"¦ Most of the help goes to the Sapa area for further development (it is already a very rich area compared to the rest of the country) while the other groups are, frequently, left by themselves to cope with very harsh conditions"¦
It is the same discrimination I have seen in many other countries, and with every ethnic minority I have met so far.