What if the only thing standing between you and certain death by drowning was a flimsy plastic bag?
This is the reality facing the teachers and students at a kindergarten in the Vietnamese province of Dien Bien. Rising floodwaters have made it so difficult for students to cross the Nam Po Stream that teachers have resorted to dragging them across the water in plastic bags.
The ingenious albeit dangerous method requires teachers to strip down to their bathers and pull the giant plastic bag - containing the fully-clothed student - across to the other side
This whole scene was captured back in 2013 by a teacher Tong Thi Minh in the Sam Lang village. A nearby bridge was out of action as a result of the heavy rains so one smart parent decided to help the kids however he could.
This was the only way across the river in the small Sam Lang village. The nearby suspension bridge was down because of the flood.businessinsider.in
In this incredible clip, a man can be seen carefully wrapping up each child in a plastic bag before submerging himself neck deep to get the kids across the waters.ryot.org
Once safely across to the other side of the powerful river the man unwraps the bone-dry child and heads back across the river to fetch the next child. In the clip filmed last year, female teachers and students were seen waiting for their turn to traverse the Nam Po stream.dailystar.co.uk
Miss Minh, the teacher, told the Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre news: "It's normal. That's the only way to cross the stream because no bridge can stand floodwater."
"I've taught here since September last year. At first, I did not know how to cross the stream so I had to follow what local villagers did later," she said.dailymail.co.uk
Minh was transferred to the village last September and she regularly crosses the stream by plastic-bag. She said that when she first came to the stream, some local men standing around asked her if she had brought any plastic bags. Then one took out his own bag and instructed her to step in.thanhniennews.com
Minh said she hesitated at first but her colleagues who had been there before said there was no other way. “They said we couldn’t wait for the flood to recede.” She recalled that the first voyage was “shaky and scary.” “I did not dare open my eyes. Only when he said “arrived” did I believe that I was still alive.”parentdish.co.uk
She said some of her female colleagues wanted to back out of the journey at first and one had to receive a lot of cheers and encouragement to step into the bag. But it has become a normal routine for all of them now. “Local people told us it’s the only way to cross the stream because no bridge could weather highlands flooding,” she said. Some students were pulled across by their parents.thanhniennews.com
WATCH: The footage captures primary school children being carried across a river in giant plastic bags
It's been widely shared on social media as people discuss the standard of bridge construction in remote parts of the country. As a result, the Transport Ministry has promised a bridge to a northern highlands village.
A Tuesday statement from Minister Dinh La Thang said the ministry will build a suspension bridge for locals, students and teachers in Sam Lang Village, Nam Po District, Dien Bien Province. The bridge promise followed a call on action by the public since the video was posted on YouTube Monday.thanhniennews.com
Vice Minister of Transport Nguyen Hong Truong told Tuoi Tre that the ministry has asked the province’s transport officials to examine the area and immediately provide locals some safer solutions to cross the river. “We believe that the bridge construction for the area will be carried out soon… I think it can be done in four or five months,” Truong said. A concrete bridge is estimated to cost around VND3.5 billion (US$166,000).thanhniennews.com
Vice minister Truong said the ministry is also proposing to the government a larger plan to build suspension bridges in remote and highlands areas. If approved, around 186 first bridges in 28 provinces in the northern and central highlands will be built by the end of 2015.thanhniennews.com
The 23-year-old nursery teacher, Minh, is excited to know of the bridge plan
Minh told Tuoi Tre the village doesn’t have phone signals or electricity for television or radio, so she was unaware of the public attention to the problem until she had attended an event at the district center Tuesday night and was shown the video on another teacher’s computer. “I was so surprised. I can’t say how happy I am,” she said of the bridge plan.thanhniennews.com