Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Where has the year gone?

 Thanksgivng always reminds me that it's nearly the end of the year. It also is a reminder to stop and think about the year, and although there might have been challenges, to think about all the good, all the kindness and generosity CEF has received, but also the sweet appreciation expressed by the students and their families.

This year CEF was affected by Covid in many ways, but close to everyone worldwide has been affected in some way. We received amazing support from both donors and sponsors for our families who are without incomes or on such small ones that they couldn't manage to pay the bills or eat enough. Many were eating two meals a day of just a little rice and vegetables topped with fish sauce. Here a little money goes a long way and the support over the year has been greatly appreciated by them.    

To CEF for her sponsor: Ngoc’s father wants to say thank you so much to her sponsor for his help over this difficult time. Her sponsor not only cares and helps Ngoc with her education fees but also supports the family.  He is willing to help when Ngoc’s family is in need. At the moment, dad is looking for a building job, but according to him, due to the effect of the Covid lockdown, it is very difficult to find one. It is also the rainy season now, and people don’t want to repair or build new houses. He told me that there has been a ‘Covid season’ and a ‘wet season’ this year, which he has meant he couldn’t make ends meet at all. Therefore, he expressed his deep gratitude to the sponsor and CEF for being very helpful, and thanks to that, his children have enough food every day.





Then there were all the funds for good second hand laptops, or laptops themselves, for our students in university and for some who had to study at home and had no internet cafes nearby. 

Back in the day when I got the letter of admission to be accepted into Da Nang University of Foreign Languages and Studies, my mum was thrilled, but also apprehensive about my university costs and that I had to live far from home. I did research and found myself stressed when I saw it was essential to have a laptop to study, do assignments, and prepare for presentations.

For the first few months at university, I was upset because most of my classmates bought new laptops to help them with their studies. Sometimes, I had to go to the internet shop or borrow a computer from my friend to complete my assignments. I did not find it easy because most students were busy with their research, so it was difficult for them to lend me their computers, and I completely understood that.

At this time, my mum was struggling to feed the whole family three meals a day, so how could I dare ask her for a laptop. However, I was surprised and happy to receive a used one from CEF when I was doing my military training course in November 2019. I still remember that moment and could not believe how I got a big gift like that. When I returned home to where the laptop was, it was so funny, as when I opened the laptop and looked at it, I laughed with happiness for almost a day.

Thanks to CEF, my studies became much easier and more interesting, especially for the last two years when we had to take online lectures due to COVID 19. Having a laptop, I have been able to attend all online classes and finish my tasks successfully. Learning the Japanese language is also a challenge because I lacked opportunities to practice or find sources of materials on the internet. Nonetheless, after receiving the computer, I could download many videos and practice my listening and speaking skills via online groups. As a result, I have progressed with my studies and results over the last three semesters.

I promise to keep this present carefully and use it more effectively for my studies. Again, thank you so much!






We truly have been blessed and are very grateful for all the care and support we have received. Whenever we need help you have been there for us. Thank you! 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Bikes are a treasured gift

The gift of a bike changes the lives of our CEF students for the better, whether to get them to school, or for collecting water, getting to extra tuition classes or doing the shopping for mum.



'Like the air we breathe, water is essential to our lives, but clean water is still out of reach to most in my area of Quang Nam province. Every day my mum and I took turns to walk very far from home to collect and carry two storage containers of clean water back to our home for cooking and bathing. As we did not have transport to bring more clean water home, and we couldn’t carry back enough when we walked, so we had no choice but to use dirty yellow water for our daily routine, which caused me to have skin problems. Since we got this bike, which was given to me by CEF three years ago, we have shortened our the time needed for water collecting and can carry more water containers home. It has also helped reduce spots in my face a lot because we have enough clean water to use now.

I cannot express how much I appreciate your gift. Your help has made our lives much better than before. Thank you so much!'


‘You proberly remember the bike you gave me when I was in grade 8, when my dad was still alive, and we were living in the old house. One day when I was doing my homework, my father suddenly returned home with a new bike. I was thrilled and overwhelmed and asked him where he got it from. He joked saying that he just bought it for me, but I knew that we couldn’t afford a new bike on his small budget, which was not even enough to feed the whole family three meals a day. 

When I found out that it was CEF who gave me this bike to get to school, I was super happy. Thanks to your gift of the bike, I was no longer late for school like the past, when I had my old broken bike. For the last four years, it has been my best companion, going to school, or to the market, whether it is a sunny or rainy day. I still look after it carefully, and it will continue be my best friend over the next four years of university too. 

Thank you so much for giving me such a priceless gift. It has great memories for me of my father and myself.’


‘I grew up in a poor family of three including my granny, my mother and me. My mother makes her living by farming to support our family.  We live in a simple house located at the end of a long narrow path. My childhood memories include of being so close to my mother as she carried me on her back whenever I went to or from school, even  walking through the muddy water during the raining season.  

As I got a little bit older, even though I could walk to school on my own, it was too far as I became so tired.  In addition, my friends spread a rumor that at twilight ghosts appear anywhere dark and quiet, like the pathway to my home, so no one dared to come to my house at night. It made me scared to walk home in the dark, so I had to run fast or wait for my mother to pick me up.

When I was in grade five. I was so happy to know that CEF could give me a bike. Seven years ago, it was the most valuable thing I owned. I and my family have been protecting it well. Over the past seven years I have ridden it to school, and to the teacher's house for my extra tuition classes. It helps me to shorten the time to every place I want to go. Since then it became my best friend, accompaning me all the time.

Thank you so much for giving me such a meaningful gift. My family and I appreciate this so much. I will protect it well and keep it as a meaningful memory of my life.’


‘I grew up in a family of three including my parents and myself. Sadly, my parents divorced when I was in grade four and right after that my mother had cancer and passed away after a year of treatment. My father remarried and had to take care of his new family. He paid no attention to me, so my grandparents took me home to live with them.

With my grandparents' low income from growing rice and raising livestock, they struggled to support me and my uncles of school age. In addition, they had to pay off a huge debt which they borrowed for my mother's treatment. I knew how hard it is for them. Living there, I lacked everything, except lots of their love. They always cared for me and encouraged me to study well to have a brighter future. Each year I had to attend school with used books, clothes, and even a bike that my uncles used before. It wasn’t the right size for me, but it was better to use it instead of walking along a muddy road in winter. It was broken sometimes which left me feeling very tired by the time I arrived late for classes.

When I was in grade seven, I was so happy to know that CEF could give me a new bike. It was a treat to have such a luxurious bike, and was a color I loved. I proudly rode it to school, to my teacher's home for extra tuition classes, and I was always ready to give my friends a lift if they needed one. I have been using it for almost two years now. It is still so new and in good condition as I care for it. 

Recently I entered high school, so I have to go far to get to school. Luckily my uncle gave me his used E-bike, but I still use my bike when I go somewhere near home such as to the market and to my friend's homes for group study sessions. 

Thank you so much for giving me such a good bike. It was my daily companion and I will continue to protect it, use it and keep it as a special memory of my childhood.’


‘Two years ago, I was lucky and happy to receive a nice bike from CEF. It's pink and as this is my favourite colour, I like it very much. Since receiving this bike, I can get to have to school and  many other places so easily. Walking to school from home used to take me about 30 minutes, but now it only takes me 10 minutes by bike. I also can attend extra tuition classes which are very far from my school. 

My granny, who has a small grocery shop, now can sell many different products, because I can ride to bigger stores to buy them and carry the products home for her to sell. Without a bike, I couldn’t do these things easily. 

Thank you very much for giving me this bike. I will always do my best at school to get good results, to make it worth your help.


‘I want to say thank you very much to CEF for giving me a bike when I was in grade 5. It has helped me a lot over these years, I am able to go to school by myself without bothering my parents or my older sister. There’s no need to worry about whether I will be late for school, like when my mother was taking me to my school.  

The bike has become my friend, carrying me to school, to my extra tuition classes, to my friends’ homes, as well as to the market, when my mother needs help with shopping. 

My father and I always take care of it. Although it is not as new as before, I still like it a lot.’

The precious gift of a bike for a CEF child is always appreciated. If you would like to give a bike please do contact us: cef.vn.usa@gmail.com 











 

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.