Vietnam has made progress by leaps and bounds in the past decade, improving economic growth, boosting newborn and child survival rates and getting more kids in school. As I traveled throughout the country last week, I could see that this progress was rooted in the determination and industriousness of the Vietnamese people. They have worked so hard to make a better life for themselves and their children, and their hard work has paid off in an increased per capita income and an active economy.
Yet Vietnam, like so much of the developing world, continues to be a study in contrasts—and these contrasts are stark in the lives and experiences of Vietnam’s children. In the capital city of Hanoi, a young girl arrives at school on the back of a motorbike. But in the Hmong highlands,