LaVieVuLinh Newsletter #4

Hi everyone!

European summer is now gone while the rainy season is all over most of Vietnam. Vu Linh 2016 seasonal volunteers and trainees have left. Adrien, our agro-engineer (23 years old, Master 2 in Ecology & Environment Biosciences), who was on site since March together with Florian (23 years old, Master 2 in Agro-Ecology & Resources Management) extended his stay until the end of August to pursue alone the mission of maintenance and restoration of our Agroforestry Project (fruits and vegetables). Alicia (22 years old, Bachelor in Applied Foreign Languages) arrived by the end of June to reactivate Vu Linh’s School Centre. Léa (23 years old, Masters in Logistics & Supply Chain) was for her part looking to complete an internship as an Executive Management Assistant in an unusual position, away from the urbanized context. As for Bertrand (20 years old, student at Paris’ Institute of Political Sciences and bachelor in Modern Literature at Paris-Sorbonne University), a passionate for theatrical arts, his wish was to come help Vu Linh to further develop its Cultural activities. In this Newsletter, we will thus talk about their respective experiences as we have used their own contributions to produce this 4th issue!


After more than 6 months of work, initially with Florian then alone, Adrien, our young engineer in agro-ecology has brought about a positive and perennial mindset to the agroforestry project participants.
Implementing natural plants fertilisation and protection systems in parallel to the planning of a fixed periodic maintenance schedule, he has achieved renewed vitality and productivity of the orchard. For the first time in 3 years, we produced mangoes and we should double last year’s pomelos crop!

The park’s Infrastructures have been improved in order to facilitate the daily works. The many paths winding through the whole agropark area now allow for a much easier access to the trees for gardeners and a nicer stroll for the lodge’s customers. Visitors will soon be able to enjoy synoptic explanatory panels in 3 languages (French, English and Vietnamese) put up along the walking paths, describing both the agropark and other eco-friendly projects on the lodge site, emphasizing what makes La vie Vu Linh a truly different touristic development project.

Along with this focus on the fruit trees park, we have reactivated the tropical vegetables garden and the animal husbandry activities. Poultry and pigeons have been introduced and the existing pigs have increased in number. Several areas have been developed within the agropark to be dedicated to growing vegetables. Now, locally produced vegetables, fruits and meat, depending on the season and availability, may be used for meal preparation for the lodge, its staff and customers! Excess in local production will be used to create and sustain a nascent commercial activity at the lodge.
Lastly, in order to contribute to reinforcing Vu Linh’s effort to preserve the Local Dzao Culture, a small garden has been created to grow traditional medicinal plants used locally for hygiene (baths) and health care (medical treatments).


During the 3 weeks of my volunteering programme, I was charged with 2 specific tasks in connection with LVVL cultural preservation commitments towards the “White Pants“ Dzao traditions.

The first part consisted in working with Fredo, the founder of the eco-lodge, to prepare a theatrical performance based on the « cop sak » rite, a local traditional initiation ritual celebrating the passage from teen to adult status. It usually lasts 5 days and 5 nights. The overall technical and artistic structure of the performance has been set up and I personally produced the texts that were later translated into Vietnamese. When I left the project was ready for implementation. It requires a few final touches, an appropriate casting and direction set up and rehearsals may almost readily begin…

The second part of my work was to reflect upon the creation of a small Museum introducing the Dzao ethnic Culture. It would be located just by the main entrance to La Vie Vu Linh Lodge, under the basis of the main stilt-house. I measured the dimensions of the dedicated area, selected photos from LVVL photo library and drafted a proposal for a thematic roadmap. The next step will require the actual implementation works to give birth to the Museum project.…
I am now back in France, and will eagerly await good news about the actual progress of these 2 projects!


Alicia arrived at Vu Linh introduced by one of the agro-engineers. She stayed over 2 months: “my main task was to teach foreign languages (French, English, Spanish) to the Lodge staff and to children from surrounding villages. I started up with a quite ambitious work timetable: 4 English courses, 3 in French and Spanish, about 1 hour each, every week. After a week, we gave up French and Spanish lessons: the staff preferred to focus on English and avoid confusions with other languages. Later in July, as the lodge occupation rate increased, the staff could not reconcile the tuition sessions with the daily service works, and we had to put a de facto end to the lessons. Attempts have been made to try and resume the courses, but all failed due to a lack of motivation from both parts.

As for children and teens, the timetable was more variable and flexible due to requests from the youngest as well as my own availabilities restrictions. I was confronted to two harsh realities that prevented me from successfully implementing the intended plan. First, I was a newbie in the field of education and I failed to organise myself properly to propose both the staff and outside kids interesting and attractive courses topics. Second, I do not speak Vietnamese and the language barrier prevented any real communication to happen. I could only rely on a few dictionaries and the Internet for translating. The lessons were much less lively than I had hoped for and I felt the pupils unfocused.

Despite this relative failure, I do believe the staff and outside children are very motivated to learn English. But what is really needed at Vu Linh, is volunteers with teaching knowledge and experience, able to interest and lure them into focusing. Obviously, speaking Vietnamese would be even better!”


Léa: “I spent a month and a half at LVVL completing my internship in Vietnam as Executive Management Assistant, observing the management style of this outstanding establishment.
Outstanding, both in terms of its exceptionally beautiful location and for the ambitions of its concept. Indeed, the eco-lodge’s ultimate goals are multiple and do represent some real human challenges; to stick to the wish to preserve the local Dzao Cultural environment while responding to the lodge international customers desire for high quality services (as required to reach as soon as possible the financial break even) seems like a far reaching target. It is certainly possible to provide jobs to local Dzao minority people to improve their lives while allowing them to keep their lifestyle.
However, this may clash with the demand for high-quality service (regarding reception, accommodation, food..) expressed by a certain segment of the clientele. On site services provided should be delivered with stricter discipline and care. At present the Lodge has no Local Manager with an appropriate profile and skills to convince of the need for, and to enforce such stricter working framework. It’s a waste as the Lodge would gain a lot from it! The project owners, conscious about this difficult situation, are reflecting on the various possible responses, having also to cope with an overall fragile and still negative financial position.

Above being said, compared with past observations, it should be noted that quite a number of significant initiatives have been deployed to improve the visual appearance of the site as well as some working procedures, in particular customers’ reception. For example, the staff is now proposing a guided tour of the Lodge domain in order to explain the multiple goals of the project. I would suggest to continue in that direction while also trying to daily-manage the site with a stricter routine. The vast majority of our customers leave the Lodge fully satisfied with the beauty of the environment and the warm ambiance. It’s important to build on these good feedbacks!



In order to improve customers’ understanding of the sustainable development activities of Vu Linh we have created, in addition to the explanations on our website, leaflets in 3 languages (French, English, Vietnamese), available on arrival at the Reception desk.


Human and financial supports are dramatically required to allow Vu Linh to carry out simultaneously the development of its eco-sustainable activities in the areas of Education, Environment & Cultural preservation and pursue its efforts to achieve as soon as possible financial autonomy. As Alicia mentioned in her testimony, human resources, e.g. volunteers, should apply only in areas in which they have vocational training and knowledge in order not to be discouraged by on-site realities.
Financial assistance is also required to improve the efficiency of the Education project. The School needs an equipment upgrade, especially in terms of IT infrastructure (more reliable Internet connection…), in order to widen the nature of the teaching domains and provide better training tools. Likewise Vu Linh eco-friendly projects need financial assistance to hire technical experts, engineers and agronomists to follow up and further develop what has been achieved to date.
On the short term, La Vie Vu Linh aims at developing commercially as the only way to ensure the project’s survival. However, we will strive to also complete the followings “a minima”:
  • the Biogaz & Water Phyto-Purification projects by convincing more families in the lodge vicinity to install the eco-friendly technologies in their farms to improve their daily life;
  • The second phase of our Agroforestry project in the framework of a 5 years Business Plan. The Plan foresees the project to be able it should generate enough revenues to contribute to the overall LVVL project. Meanwhile, showcasing the success of this alternative form of agricultural exploitation should help convince local farmers to get away from current harmful monocultures… and hopefully lead to the creation of a Green Floating Market on the Thac Ba Lake;
  • the continuous teaching efforts at the School by the actual implementation of a few active sessions per year;
  • the concrete implementation of the cultural projects initiated in 2016 and the organisation of the annual Vu Linh Cultural Festival at the end of April celebrating the project’s anniversary.
  • In order to be able to finance the Action Plan above La Vie Vu Linh will need, in addition to the help of all volunteers wishing to contribute, the financial assistance of our existing and future “sponsors”.

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