Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

Giving back Thuong Thanh (Upper Wall) the true meaning of its inseparable heritage role in the Hue Monuments Complex is soon to be realized​

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

In March 2020, the first hundreds of households dismantled their houses to prepare for relocation to a new resettlement site in Huong So, Hue City. The new houses gradually take form amidst the joy of the people… 

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

Ms. Van is on the list of 25 poor households who will receive support in the form of giving key to a new complete house. Each 1-storey house has an area of 61m2, including a mezzanine with a construction cost of about 200 million VND. Prior to receiving her new house, Ms. Van had moved out of the cramped house that for decades, three generations of her family had taken refuge in Thuong Thanh (in Thuan Loc Ward, Hue City) to return the land to the heritage.

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

At Thuong Thanh residential area, households subject to relocation phase 1 are busy dismantling their houses to give back the heritage land. The corrugated iron roofs, wooden pillars, bamboo roofs... covered with layers of time-dust are being cleared.

Following the deep and exhausting paths leading to Thuong Thanh, many sections of the wall - which were "borrowed" by people to make part of their  houses’ wall - are still intact. The exposed bricks are still new, though they have been created over 200 years ago.

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

Having just finished packing, leaning back against the wall, Ms. Le Thi Lan (47 years old) thought deeply when talking about her years living in a house with nothing but three walls. The other wall was borrowed from the Imperial city’s wall. The roof was also temporary. She said that it was not difficult to dismantle her house. All that was needed was a few strong hits of the sledgehammer.

Her family was poor. When she was 17 years old, her parents took their children to Thuong Thanh to build a temporary house, where they could have a place to stay. Growing up, getting married and having children, Ms. Lan still lived on the heritage land due to poverty and hardship.

 

Not only in the past, people are still suffering here. Some work as motorbike drivers. Some are lottery sellers. Others do menial labor…, but the neighbors took care of each other. When it was difficult, they shared rice or a bowl of porridge. “Because of that, everyone feels sentimental. We are nostalgic but glad. We have been suffering for decades. Although Thuong Thanh is famous as a heritage land, the land of the ancient kings, but our houses were temporary. Now with the support of the Government, we are extremely grateful. Coming to the resettlement area, we are being provided with land and financial support to build houses. I thought I was dreaming! Whoever thought dreams could come true!” With tears in her eyes, Ms. Lan looked forward to the days when her family is moved to the resettlement area, when life would be fine. Her children would escape from the cramped spaces. Her elderly parents would also be happy in their old age…

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

As one of the households moving from Thuong Thanh, Mr. Nguyen Phuc Lien Kien could not help being nervous.   

 
Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritageMr. Nguyen Phuc Lien Kien in the house where he had spent most of his life in Thuong Thanh. On demolishing the house to return the land to the heritage and relocate, he was emotionally moved.

Mr. Kien told, after the liberation day, he and his wife took their young son to Thuong Thanh to build a bamboo house. Five more children were born. 45 years later, poverty still clings on to his family. In old age, the couple lived with their son as a motorbike taxi driver, while the other son is disabled and can do nothing.

The day he heard that his household was to be relocated in the first phase, Mr. Kien's family could not contain their happiness. “I went to draw the land lot, and then our whole family came to see it. The land is square and very beautiful. In the near future, we will build a house according to a planning model,” said Mr. Kien excitedly, though he could not help but worry about funding for house building. 

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 
Year-end offerings of the people of Thuong Thanh, before leaving to return the land to the heritage

When asked about the most memorable thing about the land of Thuong Thanh, the old man said that the best thing is that this land never flooded.  Although everyone was poor, the neighbors always took care of each other. That love and sentiment for thousands of Thuong Thanh households like Mr. Kien is hard to forget.

In Thuong Thanh, more than 500 households will be relocated for the first time. Everyone was happy after dozens of long years of waiting.

Before the day of relocation, on New Year's Eve at the end of 2019, the people of Thuong Thanh invited each other for a year-end meal to sit back and talk about the joys and ups and downs of the place they used to call home. That special meal had a special guest, the Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, Head of the National Assembly Delegation Phan Ngoc Tho.

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 
Mr. Phan Ngoc Tho giving lucky red envelopes to Thuong Thanh people in the New Year's Eve meal

Mr. Nguyen Thin (81 years old, living in Thuong Thanh) attended the meal and thanked him: “It has been a long time since a leader, especially the provincial leader, came to this poor village to sit with the people and enjoy a year-end meal together."

The meal did not boast the taste of luxury. Only the traditional dishes were made by the people to "treat" the Chairman of the province but the affection was unmatched. He was the one who accompanied with people throughout the process of implementing the project. The elderly and children attending that special meal were even happier to receive red envelopes for the New Year from the Chairman.

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

Not only dining with people at New Year's Eve dinner, Chairman Phan Ngoc Tho had made many prior trips to talk with Thuong Thanh people, whether on working days, or on weekends to find out about the lives of each person. The suggestions and aspirations of the people are recognized and accompanied by the head of the provincial government, from the stage of relocation, to the place of settlements, and future livelihoods...

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 
Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, Head of the National Assembly Delegation Phan Ngoc Tho (3rd, from the left) talked with Ms. Le Thi Thuy Van (50 years old) - one of the poor households in Thuong Thanh relocating to Huong So who will be sponsored a new, completed house

 

When embarking on a plan for the Thuong Thanh relocation scheme, the provincial government calculated that, at all costs, it must be settled in the direction that is most beneficial to the people. Before the goal of returning the integrity and spaciousness to Hue heritage and urban area, the people’s livelihood must be prioritized.

A large amount of money has been mobilized and donated to support 25 poor households out of over 500 households relocating in the first phase of building houses in the form giving a completed house. To get this money, Mr. Tho personally mobilized from many different sources. “I had to take a trip to Hanoi to meet former Hue students who were living and working here to call for donations. After hearing what I had to say, they agreed to sponsor the additional expense to support the construction of 25 houses for the truly difficult households,” recalled Mr. Tho.

 

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

On the construction of those houses, Mr. Tho also presented and joined the people in performing the ceremony of placing stones in front of the immense joy of poor Thuong Thanh people.

Believing in what the provincial leaders had listened, said, and done, the people were assured of the historic migration they had been waiting for decades, over many terms of leaders. “Unexpectedly, the happy day had come to us so quickly. When these houses are finished, Thuong Thanh people and I will invite the Chairman of the province and the neighbors to come and celebrate with us...” Ms. Van was very excited when she talked about the approaching day when they would receive their new houses…

Relocation of households in Hue Citadel Zone 1: History and Sentiment -  part 1: Returning land to the heritage

 

Story: PHAN THANH

Design: QUANG THIEU