A day in life at Peaceful Bamboo Family

Thong Vo
Documentary Photographer based in Ho Chi Minh City
A special school for young people with intellectual disabilities in Hue, Tinh Truc Gia does not see itself as just a place to nurture and take care of young people with special needs, but really a community of love and collaboration, where normal people live harmoniously with people with disabilities, based on ecological and humanistic principles.
Mornings at Tinh Truc Gia always begin with the "Circle" activity, where teachers and friends greet each other to start a new day. “Circle” is when you hear information about the day's activities, or community announcements.

Starting with the sound of a gong and ending with a "Happy working day" wish, the “Circle” is the place where people unite before entering a new working day.
As a community following the Camphill movement, Tinh Truc Gia creates an enabling environment that allows young people with disabilities to reach their full potential in a way that will make a positive contribution to society. To do that, the community is organized into workshops: jam factory, incense factory, bakery workshop, garden workshop, art workshop...where residents work and create products that contribute to their livelihood.
Biodynamic garden is the soul of Tinh Truc Gia. The garden is seen as a living organism with its own life process and rhythm.

Mr. Hung, the gardener shared: “The garden taught me many valuable lessons. The lesson of letting go of the desire to control, harmonizing with the dance of nature and accepting that we are not the boss, but just a part of the wonderful ecosystem of the garden.
What the garden can teach young people is very rich. From pushing a turtle cart to items that require more meticulousness stuffs like seeding, harvesting… there's always the right job for everyone. Learning to care for the soil and garden is a meaningful transformation, not just for the gardening team but for the community as a whole.
Embraced by nature, by the peaceful green color of the trees, the blade of grass is the best gift that the small community of Tinh Truc Gia brings to its residents - just like the name of this place.
Life at Tinh Truc Gia is a diverse combination of culture, people and activities. There are four generations living, studying and working together, and each generation has its own characteristics and contributions. Ms. Thao is one of the teachers who have a strong attachment to the community. She shares: “The best asset you have when working here is love. Love is to be patient and persistent with the residents, and happiness is to see them give love back to everyone.”
Two days at Tinh Truc Gia, I witnessed countless hand-holdings of teachers and students, supporting and guiding each other.
Interaction, connection, understanding and sharing as a united group, nurturing a sustainable community.
At Tinh Truc Gia, working is the best lesson. There are always new activities for you to practice. In the photo: Ms. Thao instructs a young student to make paper fans, the finished products are nice fans which residents also use on hot summer days.
Art is part of life. Through the lens of art, residents can express emotions that normal communication barriers do not allow. The art studio nurtures the talents through painting. In the photo: Mr. Phuc - art studio lead, checks the perfection of a lacquer painting. Works from Tinh Truc Gia have been featured in annual art exhibitions in Hanoi and Saigon.
If the art studio is colorful, the bakery is full of fragrance. Baking is as fun as painting or cooking. And no matter what activities, it can be seen that the meticulous attention of each person is not inferior to any ordinary person.
The kitchen, "5-star restaurant" of Tinh Truc Gia is busy preparing for the community's meals. The kitchen's job is not just cooking, it's also a "learning station" where young people have experiences in household chores such as responsibility, meticulousness, and execution of work from start to finish. .
Housework is extremely important, as it helps community members feel connected and responsible for their family.
The names on the stainless steel cups, neatly arranged in the kitchen compartment of Tinh Truc Gia. A beautiful photo, clearly showing the community strong bond at this place.
Bright faces during playtime, in the late dimmed twilight of Hue. Advocacy activities are always encouraged at Tinh Truc Gia. The community has a cool playground, surrounded by lots of green spaces and shaded trees.
During my time at Tinh Truc Gia, the eyes I touched seemed to contain countless emotions. There are curious eyes to welcome a stranger like me into the community, sometimes I see the eyes staring at the teachers like this photo...
…or the affectionate "I like you" eyes of the adorable guy for the photographer.
Ms. Thao's moment of leisure amidst the sound of bamboo rustling in the wind. After a day full of emotions, hardships and lots of tasks, the teachers still found the motivation to continue their work like the first day.
Stepping out of the gate of Tinh Truc Gia, I came across these words on the greeting sign. "How graceful it is" - I reckoned. This is chosen as the ending image for this photo report.
Going back in time, since 2010 with the first project "Tougher than time - Journey to the world of the elderly" photographing my Grandmother, until the moment when I felt in love and really practiced documentary photography the past 3 years, the idea of a photo reportage project with the theme "Community" has always been cherished in me.

What does community mean to us?
Do we choose the community we belong to, or does the community choose its members?
Is community the feeling of belonging and security, knowing that you will be supported and protected?

With family reportage photography, I have found some meanings in a small, familiar community. What about a larger society?

Last April, through the connection from an old colleague, I had the opportunity to live and integrate with such a community - a house with the beautiful name "Tinh Truc Gia" (Peaceful Bamboo Family) in the ancient capital Hue, Vietnam. This photo series captured a few insights about life, experience and feelings of the people who are attached to a special committed job at this place.

Public Story
A day in life at Peaceful Bamboo Family
Copyright Thong Vo 2022
Date of Work Apr 2022 - Apr 2022
Updated May 2022
Location Hue, Vietnam
Topics Community, Documentary, Journalism, Photography, Photojournalism, Social community, Social issue