Tuesday , September 21 2021

A Kon Tum journey through childhood

A series of photographs by Nguyen Ngoc Thai depict the childhood of ethnic minority children in Central Highlands province Kon Tum.

A group of ethnic Ba Na kids chase each other on a suspension bridge in Dak Ha District.

Thai, also known as Thai Bana, has spent many years capturing portraits of locals and the beauty of traditional activities around communal houses in Kon Tum.

The Central Highlands is home to 6.5 million people, with ethnic minorities accounting for 45 percent of the region’s population, including the Bahnar, Jrai, Ede, and Sedang. Many children are still trapped in stark poverty and suffer from poor access to education.

Children bathe in a river in Dak Ha, about 20 kilometers north of downtown Kon Tum.
The Ba Na of Kon Tum account for 12.5 percent of the province’s population, mainly residing in Kon Tum Town and Dak Ha, Kon Ray and Sa Thay Districts.
The happy moment of a kid bathing in the river
A group of smiling children and a dog in the straw.

Thai Ba Na said he has had a passion for photography since 2015 and after experiencing various types, chose his own path to portray daily life in the Central Highlands.

Kids play with a dog around a stilt house.

Communal houses (rong in Vietnamese) on stilts with their distinct high, tapering roofs are built using natural materials like wood, bamboo and leaves. The communal house is the heart of a village

Children fold paper cranes, implying their dreams fly high and miracles occur.
A village elder and two kids work at a forge
Kids play marbles, a traditional pastime.
Shooting birds with a slingshot is another childhood game among boys
Two kids play with a bird cage.

Since 2015, the author has traveled around Dak Ha and Kon Tum villages taking over 300 photos of ethnic minority people, from village elders to children.