A senior artisan demonstrating skills while weaving traditional patterns on a long loom in Mỹ Nghiệp, Ninh Thuận province, March 2022 ©

British Council

Community Cultural Heritage Challenge is a new initiative to enable local communities to come up with ideas and receive support to design and implement actions  aiming to safeguard and promote their cultural heritage. After three years of working closely with local communities in Gia Lai, Ninh Thuận and Hồ Chí Minh City, both directly and through delivery partners, we decided to prioritise project budget to support community-led initiatives. Through this grant scheme, most of the annual programme budget would be used to pay for people, goods and services in local communities. It is also an opportunity for communities that had received training in the previous years to apply their new skills in the form of actions. Through further engagement with key members from the target communities, and after consultation from locally based heritage and development professionals, two open calls were launched, calling for project proposals from local communities, heritage practitioners and professionals in Ninh Thuận in August and Gia Lai in October 2022. 

Community-led projects selected for grant funding

Ariya chanting performance in Bau Truc. Photo from the Project of preserving the heritage of reciting, singing and telling Ariya stories in Cham culture in Phuoc Nam, Ninh Thuan province, May 2022  ©

Thap Hong Luyen

Weavers in Mo H'ra village demonstrating the traditional weaving technique of the Bahnar in Kong Long Khong commune, Kbang district, Gia Lai province, March 2022. ©

British Council 

1. Preserving Chăm Weaving Traditions

Project Owner: Phú Văn Ngòi

Location:  Mỹ Nghiệp village, Phước Dân town, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

A project by the Mỹ Nghiệp Weavers Collective to research and document rare patterns in traditional Chăm weaving, and to train weavers in making these patterns as to preserve the authenticity and uniqueness of Chăm weaving. Chăm weavers hope by preserving their cultural identity in their woven products, it will open up a new market and bring in new customers for their craft.

2. Training for youth and women for community-based tourism

Project Owner: Quảng Đại Tuyên

Location: Sen Caraih, Mỹ Nghiệp village, Phước Dân town, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

A training course designed specifically for young people and women from Chăm communities to obtain skills in how to set up and run their community-based tourism projects sustainably. This project aims to motivate and prepare young Chăm people to use cultural heritage as a resource for tourism development. 

3. Preserving Ariya singing/storytelling in Chăm culture

Project Owner: Thập Hồng Luyện

Location: Phước Nam, Thuận Nam, Ninh Thuận

This project seeks to identify Ariya singing/storytelling masters in Chăm villages and organise transmission classes where these masters can teach Ariya singing/storytelling techniques to others as a way to maintain the practice. Ariya is a form of poetry that includes ancient stories from  Chăm culture and is often sung/chanted in Chăm ritual ceremonies, to inspire and  teach Chăm people about their roots and the richness of their culture.

4. Ceremony instruction handbook for Chăm dignitaries

Project Owner: Vice Head Monk Lưu Thanh Sanh

Location: Phước Thái, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

Led by respected Chăm dignitary Lưu Sanh Thanh of the Ninh Thuận’s Chăm Dignitary Order, this project aims to research and document practices in Chăm ritual ceremonies and to develop a handbook to help 45 Chăm dignitaries conduct ritual ceremonies, serving 400,000 members of the Chăm community in the Ninh Thuận province.

5. Saving the Pabblap herbs

Project Owner: Kiều Thị Hồng Vân

Location: Xuân Hải, Ninh Hải, Ninh Thuận

Pabblap is a Chăm village known for rare herbs, which can be used as home remedies  for specific health issues. In the past, Pabblap herbalists collected their plants from nearby forests. As forested areas have been significantly reduced in past decades, villagers are finding it increasingly  hard to get their herbs. Kieu Mai Ly and her family of three generations of herbalists initiated this project to source and plant these rare herbs in their garden. Their plan is to cultivate these herbs as well as the knowledge and practices of their uses to share with others,  in order to preserve the village’s heritage and livelihoods. 

6. Experiencing Chăm culture through homestay tourism

Project Owner: Lưu Quang Tuấn Huy

Location: Phước Hữu, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

A group of six young Chăm proposed to research and develop homestay models that local people could  use to offer tourists/visitors an opportunity to best experience Chăm culture. The group plans to engage with local authorities and there are around 30 households in the pilot phase to test out suitable homestay models, before promoting further local tourism through various methods of communication, test tours, and connections with the new market and audience.

7. SU-UK (question and answer) about Chăm cuisine

Project Owner: Nguyễn Nữ Huyền Trang, Vạn Thị Ngọc Huyện

Location: Phước Thái, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

This project aims to open a forum for Chăm women to dialogue about their role in keeping Chăm culture and heritage alive, Chăm cuisine acting as a starting point. By creating and documenting opportunities where Chăm women get together to cook and share stories about their ways of living - where traditional dishes using unique local ingredients are such a big part of life -  the two young Chăm women who proposed this project hope to spread the knowledge further about their heritage and indigenous practices within and beyond Chăm villages.

8. The world of Chăm legends

Project Owner: Trượng Văn Sô

Location: Phước Hậu, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

A project working with students to research and record (digitise) old legends in Chăm culture. The main objective is to create opportunities for young people to learn about their culture and heritage, as well as  improve their knowledge and use of Chăm language and increase their understanding and pride in their own culture. The  final outcome will be a book collection of Chăm legends with illustrations, to be distributed to 15 local schools in Ninh Thuận. 

9. Developing heritage-based activities for cultural tourism

Project Owner: Lưu Anh Tặng

Location: Phước Hữu, Ninh Phước, Ninh Thuận

This project assists local individuals and families running homestay businesses in  organising  activities that offer visitors positive experiences of local culture. These activities include guided tours to craft villages, workshops with local artisans, cooking classes and etc. A series of training sessions will be provided for a group of around 20 local people, before they start working in groups to practice and learn from organising and offering activities to test tour groups. 

10. Preserving boat and gong heritage of Jrai people in Gia Lai

Porject Owner: Lê Thị Phương Loan

Location: Center for Culture, Information and Sports, Ia Grai district, Gia Lai

The Jrai people of the La O commune, Grai district in the Gia Lai province see their boat making and gong playing as part of their heritage which they would like to preserve and  use for tourism development. The Culture Department of the Grai district proposed this project as an opportunity for old artisans to teach younger people how to carve boats, row a boat, organise boat racing competitions as community events and play the gong in these events. Their ambition is to revive the local boat race festival as a showcase of local cultural highlights to promote tourism and  create  more employment opportunities for local people. 

11. Preserving Bahnar weaving tradition in Mơ H’ra village, Kông Lơng Khơng commune

Project Owner: Trần Thị Bích Ngọc

Location: Kông Lơng Khơng commune, Kbang district, Gia Lai

The Kông Lơng Khơng commune’s Culture Department and villagers of the Mơ H’ra village embarked on a mission to preserve the process of Bahnar weaving tradition from seed planting to pattern weaving. As part of this project, local young women will learn from older artisans every step of the process and how to create new products from the loom while maintaining designs and patterns symbolic of their heritage and culture. 

12. Jrai Culture Club

Project Owner: Ksor H’ Nhi

Location: Iarbol commune, Ayunpa town, Gia Lai

A group of Jrai youth in Bôn Rưng Manin village, a Iarbol commune, Ayunpa town in the Gia Lai province proposed to organise a Jrai Cultural Club for people of all ages in the village to learn about and share Jrai culture. The group wish to create a space for cultural activities, such as gong playing and xoang dancing, which children can also take part in. Their ambition is to nurture people’s pride  of  their own culture and to find more outlets for cultural activities, which could be part of any social and employment opportunities. 

13. Wooden statues of Bahnar and Jrai people in Gia Lai

Project Owner: Nguyễn Thị Thu Loan

Location: Pleiku city, Gia Lai

This project aims to preserve the knowledge and skills among local artisans who can make wooden statues – a heritage feature of Bahnar and Jrai people in the Gia Lai province. Traditionally, these statues were made to accompany the deceased to the underworld. Wooden statues were a part of highlanders’ identity before they became collectibles and started to disappear from their native land to become priced assets in private collections. The  main activity is a residency programme for a group of artisans from 17 districts and towns in the Gia Lai province. These artisans will also pilot making mini-nature versions of the statues and train others to make them as souvenirs for tourists.