Sunday, January 24, 2021

A big concern ~ the effect of Covid - 19 on education

Education is a right every person should have no matter what gender, age, nationality, race, ethnic origin, skin color and financial situation. Unfortunately that is not the reality still in these so called modern times. 

On International Education Day 2021 it is a big concern that further complications now exist for those who want an education but now can't receive one due to Covid-19 with it's resulting lockdowns with schools shutting down. Some schools have been shut for nearly a year despite overwhelming evidence of the impact on children. At the peak 90% of the worlds' students were affected with a third with no access to remote education. It's a serious situation. 

An estimate of 24 million more children could to be out of school this year! This is depressing as so many countries and organizationns have fought to keep children in school and get children into school. 

Already education standards have dropped, including children's ability to do basic mathematics, reading and writing. Not just their education is suffering, but their wellbeing is also at risk with the poorest and most vulnerable at greatest risk. School gives emotional stability with the care and attention given, mental stimulation, the social interation, physical activities and in many cases also food that they don't get if they are at home. If at home all the time some are more vulnerable to physical, mental and sexual abuse. In some countries they are greatly at risk of being forced into a child marriage or into child labor as they are often an unwanted burden on the family.  

Hopefully many countries will be able to do what Vietnam has been doing since schools opened and that is providing classes to fill in the gaps they were missing from being out of school or if they were unable to do online lessons. It has meant many weekends in school, but they do have the chance to catch up at least, although it has been tiring for the school and university students. 

It is thought that if children are faced with another year of school closure the effect may even be felt for generations! Closures should be a last resort as some research has shown that schools are not a place of concern when looking at the spread of the virus. Essential procedures at schools should be put in place so children do not suffer, remain safe, nourished and educated! 



Friday, January 1, 2021

Wishing everyone a fullfilling and healthy 2021


2020 has been a challenging year for many worldwide and all we can hope for is that 2021 will not see so many suffering. 

Here in Vietnam many suffered due to Covid19, not because they got ill and died, as deaths were very few and only from the second bout, but due to the results of our very strict social distancing rules and the gradual stopping of international flights, reducing tourism to just some local domestic tourism. It has meant large scale unemployment with many reinventing themselves, to find a way to bring in an income to support their families. The employment situation now is a little better with some having low incomes and domestic tourism has increased and consequently more restaurants, cafes, homestays and hotels have reopened. Sadly too late for many which shut down permantently and have been on the market for six months or more.


Tropical storms brought flooding and landslides with many in low lying lands and in the mountains losing their homes and all worldly possessions. They now are trying to start life from scratch, which is hardest on the middle aged and elderly. 


We at CEF are incredibly grateful for the wonderful support we have received to help bring relief to those suffering. We received funds to give families who needed support during a time of no income due to Covid19 and Covid lockdowns. We received flood and disaster relief funds for those in the mountains and low lying plains to help with damage to their homes or to help give temporary shelter 
and later to give towards their new permanent homes.

                                    

We are most grateful for all the care we received to help others less fortunate, when things have not been easy for many of you too. Thank you so much.


The support of partner organizations, sponsors and donors has been wonderful and without your help very little would have been possible over this year. Girls stayed in school, and we had none drop out even though things were tough for their families. Being sponsored and having Covid support during the toughest months made a world of difference. 

Thank you to all who have helped in various ways over this last year which includes my board, advisors and volunteers as well. Together we can make a big difference. Thank you.  

We all wish you a healthy, fulfilling and good 2021,

Linda


Linda Hutchinson-Burn, the CEF staff and CEF management

Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam 




   

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

And 19 students were sponsored again this year

All these students have been sponsored by Go Philanthropic Foundation with all of them coming from challenging situations. Just a few examples of their challenges are that there is serious mental illness in three of the families, one mother has brain cancer, one girl has two parents who are blind, ten of the 19 only have one uneducated parent with a very limited earning capacity. They are not letting their circumstances hold them back and are doing their best at school!

Each year the numbers are less as they are all growing up, graduating from high school, going off to work or attending vocational training before a job. Some are continuing their education and receiving a university education. The family gets smaller, but the results bigger!

Go Philanthropic has been incredibly supportive and each year has helped to support our education programs as well such as Water Safety Day, Human Trafficking Workshops and Girls to Women (Female Health and Hygiene) Workshops. These workshops are meaningful and the students really appreciate learning subjects they need to know about for their safety and health.  

Go Philanthropic has been helping us to enable these students to mature with support, be educated and have the opportunity to break the poverty cycle. This is huge and wonderful support which we at CEF and the children greatly appreciate! 






















































Saturday, August 15, 2020

Thuong's story of sponsorship and life since ~ Written by Thuong and edited by CEF's Kim Chi

2007

My name is Thuong and I come from a poor northern village in Vietnam. I graduated from college in 2014, majoring in Hotel and Tourism Management. It has been a long time since the last time I contacted CEF. By accident, I saw photos on social media including me, when I was a little girl which Ms Linda had taken when I was sponsored by CEF to go to school, then onto college.

I still remember the time when I first met Ms Linda and Ms Thao – CEF’s volunteer and coordinator. I was in secondary school at that time, was skinny and shy. My face became beet red really easily whenever I looked at someone's face. I was so quiet and shy at that time. Fortunately, CEF and Ms Linda cared for me and gave me an opportunity to receive sponsorship to continue my education.

I lived with my maternal grandparents when I was little until I finished high school because my parents worked in the South. They just visited my grandparents and me on Tet holidays and in summer vacations. I was so delighted when they returned home, bringing home nice clothes and candies. When living with my grandparents, I saw them working really hard on farms to make ends meet and keep me in school. Therefore, it was a huge financial gift for me and my family when CEF helped me to pay my school fees during my secondary schooling, my high school years and then helped me to complete a college course. It was the first time I had heard of this NGO and Ms Linda, who was willing to help me and support me whenever I faced any difficulties in life although she was not one of my family members.

How time flies! The little shy girl now has become a young woman who is nearly 28. It has been about 10 years since I first knew about studying Hospitality Management  at college and then having it as a career. I was very curious and interested in this career when my uncle talked to me about tourism and his hotel. I was so curious when I saw many beautiful photos of hotels, food and drink on TV advertisements. That attracted me and made me dream of studying and working in this career although I knew this job would have a lot of difficulties and I had to put lots of effort into gaining experience to work in big hotels, even just for part-time work. 

I was so lucky that I had a caring sponsor – Mr Stephen, and I still remember the second time I met him in Hanoi. I was in my last year at college and he did encourage me by telling me an inspiring story. He told me a story of his friend who also worked in tourism. He started at the lowest position in a hotel and did try his best to become a manager. That motivated me a lot and made me more determined to be successful in the subject I had chosen to study. My sponsor also remembered the first time he met me when I was just a little shy girl. I also remember French fries when I had dinner with Ms Linda and my sponsor. All of the care from my sponsor and CEF besides sponsorship made me feel I was a lucky girl. I will never forget and will always be very grateful for the great support you gave me and my family. 

It has been six years already since the day I graduated from college. Although I don’t work directly in hotels or restaurants, I am working for a tour agency in Hanoi which is related to my field of studies. Hotels and restaurants are our partners. Finally, I attained my goals, working in tourism and I travel to many beautiful places. The important things I have learnt during my work time is confidence and financial independence. I am more confident in communication and also can help my parents now as well as support my bother with his studies in Hanoi.

As I am working in tourism, my work was affected by COVID19. I was off work for a few months and this was the first time I understood about unemployment since I graduated from college. I was confused about my future and what I should do during this difficult time. So, I applied to work in a different area. I was an officer for a college in Hanoi, working in the department of International Communication. My work was taking the students to other universities and vocational training centers so that they had a better understanding of the subjects they wanted to learn. The work required travelling by car a lot and carsickness is my biggest challenge. I worked there for a month and then stopped because I couldn’t stand being carsick so often. Although it was a short term job, it was worth trying something different. I found out that I love my job and feel I am only suitable for working in tourism. I went back to work for a tour agency after the first wave of COVID19 and feel so excited every day when I work, although I know that it is a very difficult time for tourism now due to COVID19.

(Name changed)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

CEF graduate Chuyen's story ~ Written by Chuyen and translated by CEF's Kim Chi


I came from a poor farming family and I am the youngest child in a family with four children. My parents worked really hard to bring us up and tried to keep us all in school. My father used to work on building sites and my mother worked on farms to make ends meets. The physically demanding work made my parents’ health deteriorate. My father has spinal degeneration and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to poverty and the difficult financial position of my family, when I was 15 years old, one of my sisters had to stop her schooling prematurely. She married after one year of working. When I saw how she struggled to afford the costs of raising children, I told myself that I had to go to university to have a better life for myself and to be in a position to bring up my children in way that wasn’t deprived. 

When I was 15 years old, my mother was recovering from her breast cancer surgery. I love her so much, so I thought that if I went to university, I would have a better life and earn plenty of money then I could help my mother to have a better life too. Her health has suffered a lot since the surgery, so I felt she should have a comfortable life when I complete university, as when I am working I would be able to support her.

In 2014, I passed the university entrance exam but my parents didn’t want me to go to university. At that time, my mother was sick and my brother was in university so they couldn’t afford to help me at all.

I still have never forgotten the day in September 2014, when my father took me to the bus station to go to Ha Noi although he said he wanted me to stop my eduction. We kept silence during the whole journey to the bus station. When we got there, I told my father “Take me back home, I won’t go to university”. He threw my luggage into the bus and say ‘Go and complete your university course’. We burst into tears and I cried during the long trip to Ha Noi. His action was such a positive motivation for me to go to university and complete my course. 

I took a university course for four and a half years, majoring in IT. During my university course, I worked part time to earn enough to cover my university expenses besides receiving sponsorship from CEF. At that time, my brother was studying at university as well and my mother was sick. My father was the only person working and providing finance for the family. 

With sponsorship from CEF, there was less financial worry for me when I went to university because it cost a lot for my university expenses. 

I got my university graduation certificate last year 2019, qualified in IT and now am working in my favourite job as a software tester. Every day at work I never get bored. With my university certificate, I now have a good, well-paid job so that I’m now able to give financial support to my parents monthly besides affording to support myself independently. For me, being at university for four and a half years was very important and also a key factor to my good future. My parents are well and they don’t need to work much now because no one in my family is being educated. We can work and support them monthly, so they only farm a little to provide enough for their daily needs. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons reminded me of a past trafficking situation

Human Trafficking is such a huge money making business, that the techniques to get the needed girls for the business of prostitution and to be wives in China is constanctly changing as each of their ruthless games is found out. This is a story from 15 years ago about how they nearly successfully obtained some ethnic girls for their use and abuse.


They were angry with me as they believed I had removed the possibility of their daughters earning a good salary and supporting them. I was surprised and sad when I was told this when I returned to the village a few weeks later. I had saved their daughters lives and yet they couldn’t see that at all and consequently were angry with me due to no imagined forthcoming wealth.
When I was there the prior time I had found out that some of the young teenage girls from the village were planning on going off together to excellent well paid jobs in Ho Chi Minh City. I knew immediately that the tricksters had been to the village. Well-dressed women adorned with gold jewelry went to ethnic villages and promised work to the young women who were unemployed and a financial burden to their families. The wealth the women displayed of course gave weight to their request.
The girls were due to leave the following day, so there was excitement in the village when I arrived. My friend was thrilled to tell me of the good fortune of these families. When I strongly made my stance and insisted my friend went and visited each of the families to let them know about the tricksters and what their goals could be, and to beg them not to let their daughters go to HCM City, she felt bad as she knew no one would want to hear this bad news.
She was successful in persuading them, but they now all felt anger, which was aimed at me. Although upset that they couldn’t see that their daughters were more precious and important than the money, I felt relieved that my friend had been successful in persuading the families to not send their daughters away to an unknown and potential frighteningly and degrading future that could end in death.

Covid-19 and the effect on Human Trafficking

It’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. As is the way, I sometimes do posts related to these important international days that have some connection to the work that CEF does. But what can I write about related to Human Trafficking as it all has been said, about how serious it is, how there are many organizations working hard to combat it and now also some governments around the world are fully behind prevention, rescuing and carrying out appropriate punishments. But I can write a little about Covid-19 and how it is affecting Human Trafficking.

Covid is already and further will change the world dramatically. It has been a huge blow to progress in reducing trafficking and poverty according to Matt Friedman of the Mekong Club, who talked at the Asia Region Anti-Trafficking Conference recently.  He said that we have lost ground in reducing modern slavery and that the 15 year advancement we had made, has gone! There are now 42 million people in slavery and 62% of them are in Asia!

Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a Hanoi based NGO concentrates on prevention and rescues. According to them due to Covid-19 some trafficking rescues in Vietnam were delayed over the last six months, some were still possible thankfully, but the victims had to go into quarantine for two weeks. Not ideal at all considering the victims already are traumatized and need emotional and psychological help.

Matt shared a sad fact that families who are really poor are surrendering their children, including very young girls, more than ever before and are selling them off to brothels and traffickers, as they can’t afford to feed them. A positive is that some brothels are sending girls home as they don’t have enough customers and have growing debt.

Matt said that all communities will be affected, prices of most things will go up along with spending going down. There is a lot of uncertainly for factories, factory owners and employees.  Manufacturing is no longer a smooth process as some parts aren’t being made and delivery of parts are delayed. Orders are slow in coming in, some have none and orders are often cancelled even when the manufacturing is in process. Some factories found the only way to survive and for people not to get ill was to ask the staff to live at the factory , but they had to make a rule that if they left they could not return and often demanded that they carry out unpaid overtime. It’s another new form of slavery. 

Many factories are shutting down or have, most have a reduced work force, with some on reduced salaries and others not paid.  As people are desperate for work, they consider working in worse conditions now. Many won’t have enough to keep a roof over their heads and feed their family. With 60-70% of the world’s factory workers being in Asia, this is a serious situation.  Very sadly it is forecast that half a billion are slipping into poverty, 2.5 million people will suffer from starvation with around a million will die from Covid.  This Covid-19 period in our history is a sad time for all on this planet as it is bringing about more poverty and consequently an increase in trafficking.


(The infographic from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation shows how Covid-19 is impacting Human Trafficking.www.bluedragon.org)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The latest conversation with CEF university student Chi ~ Guest post by CEF's Thuy Tran

Every month, our university students communicate with us about their life and their studies, so that we can know how they are and give help if they need it. Here is a story of a third-year university student majoring in law, who shared with us about how she is this month.


‘Since the end of June, my study schedule is less busy than before because I completed my lessons in some subjects. Others will be finished in the third week of this month, but my term 2 examinations will be in the middle of July. At the end of last month, my friend introduced to me a good part-time job in a keychain workshop. I said that it is a good part-time job because I feel happy to work there and it is flexible work. I can come in my free time. And of course, my income is depending on how many key-chains I can make. My job is to make  key-chains. There, I have a chance to learn how to design key-chains and how to use the laser cutting machine. It is not a hard job and the staff can eat free ice-cream and drink free coffee  in the break-time.



Covid-19 has affected not only my term two studies but also my coming internship. Normally, students can do it in the summer holiday of the third year, but now it will be delayed to term 2 of the final year. My university board also encourages students to go back to their hometown to do their internship. So, I plan to do the internship at the District Court or at the People’s Procuracy of the district. Next year, I have to choose a specific aspect of law to learn. After asking my older sisters and students who are older, I decided to choose ‘administrative law’.