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Where is KonTum?

The name Kon Tum comes from the name of a village of the Ba Na ethnic group.
In the Ba Na language, KON means "village" and TUM means "pool".

Kon Tum is a mountainous province located in the central highland region of Vietnam about 900km from Saigon. Kon Tum town, the capital of the province, is a sleepy little mountain town (less than 50.000 inhabitants) on the banks of the Dakbla River and surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges.

Within the province, there are over 600 ethnic minority villages and hamlets, with ethnic minorities accounting for more than 50% of the population. These ethnic groups are called Montagnard (French for mountaineer) and are diversified, with unique languages, lifestyles and cultural traditions. In the Kon Tum province they include the Ba Na, Gia rai and Xo Dang.

While not all the villages are completely excluded from the modern world, many are isolated and continue a lifestyle based on the traditions of their ancestors. The remoteness of the villages and the absence of government support mean the minority people are not afforded the same opportunities in life as others in Vietnam. Education and health care are scarce, and they continue to work on the fields as they have done for many centuries. Parents who didn't get an education themselves find it hard to understand the importance of this opportunity for their children, and regularly fail to enrol them in school. The remoteness of the villages also means that schools are often too far away, and traveling is an expense that can’t be afforded.

The income gained from farming is limited, and should the family grow too large or should one parent die, there is often not enough food to feed the remaining members. In such cases the youngest of the family, who is the furthest from being productive in the fields, is routinely abandoned or left to die. For this reason, the orphanages in Kon Tum play an important role.

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