Wednesday, December 14, 2011

About the group of women on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada who make bandages for 'lepers'

Elaine and two of the other knitters                                                              
Linda Stocker with a woman with leprosy

C.E.F. sponsors fourteen young people from the leprosy village of Hoa Van, so that they can continue their education in the city of Da Nang. Their parents or grandparents have been victims of Hansen’s disease and thus they have lived in isolation and poverty, but this young generation carry the hope of a better life, free of this harrowing disease which can be controlled with drugs and through greater opportunities which their education will provide.

But the pain and suffering of their elders persists. Untreated leprosy has left many with defor­mities and lost digits and limbs. These stumps are vulnerable to infection as there is little sensitivity to pain or discomfort.

A group of women on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada, with compassionate hearts and knitting needles are alleviating some of this pain. They are producing hand knit, 100% mercerized cotton bandages, which can be wound around the leper's limbs to protect them from injury; can provide a cushion for an ill fitting prosthesis or even protect an open tropical sore. The bandages are washable, reusable and can be sterilized for repeated use.

These women are part of a worldwide knitting circle organized and managed by an energetic woman, Linda Stocker of Ariel, Washington. Linda and her husband, a US Army veteran travelled to Vietnam on a tour of reconciliation and peace, returning home determined to alleviate some of the pain that they had witnessed.  Her friend, Elaine Head, who lives on Salt Spring Island is also a friend of C.E.F; the wife of a US Army veteran and a volunteer  in Hoi An, from where ,some years ago she ventured to the village of Hoa Van. When I told Elaine that the headman of the village thought that the bandages would be desirable, she immediately contacted Linda Stocker and our first shipment arrived.

This year we are getting a “special delivery!” A group travelling from Salt Spring to Vietnam will deliver the second batch of bandages in January 2012.

“The knitting is a kind of meditation”, said Elaine. “With each stitch we think about the comfort that our bandage will provide to someone a world away. Our hands can be busy while we watch TV, wait in doctors’ offices or ride the ferry to and from the island.”

 The fourteen knitters on Salt Spring have been knitting less than a year and have produced more than 100 bandages.

We are so grateful that the next shipment will come directly to our village of Hoa Van, carried by friends of the women who have produced them.

Off to do home visits in a life jacket

We have several children who live in difficult to get to areas and they can only be easily reached by ferry boat. The ferries recently introduced life jackets after several of them sunk and several people died. Amazingly I am the only one on the ferry boats I have been on who wears a jacket and everyone things it is hilarious. They say it is ugly! They are right, but I prefer to look ugly and have the option of floating.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Drawings the children did

When we do home visits to see the children and how they and their family are doing they sometimes give us letters for their sponsors and sometimes do drawings. Here are three drawings we were given on Sunday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

These three children are Buddhist nuns

We are helping children with their education in three provinces. Here in the centre they are mainly Buddhist children and some are child nuns. In the north, in Thai Binh province they are mainly Catholic. Below are some of the Buddhist nun children with the nun who cares for them.

This girl from a young age was attracted to being a nun.

This girl also was attracted to being a nun when very young. Her family has always had nuns and monks in the family and therefore her family were very supportive of her decision.

This girl loves being a nun, and as with the others, she felt drawn to being a nun at a very young age. She is a very obedient and helpful little nun, and has a very sunny nature.

The life of a nun is not an easy one; it is not as if they are choosing an easier life. They get up around 4am to meditate and to chant and study Buddhism. They meditate and chant twice more in the day and do domestic chores.They do have three meals a day but not large ones and the meals contain food they grow or have been given and therefore meals can be tiny and lack variety often.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Binh has a sponsor at last!

As we only help a few boys, as our work is mainly with girls, it is always hard to get sponsors for the boys we do wish to help. Binh was brought to our attention a year and a half ago as he should have been in school but wasn't as there were no funds for his education.

His father is an alcoholic and abandoned him at birth and his mother abandoned him when he was very young as she couldn't manage to care for him and earn a living. A very kind aunt cares for him although she struggles to do this as she earns very little. She loves him as her own and does the best she can, and wants him to have an education so he has more choices.

This is wonderful news that he now has a sponsor to see him through his schooling; giving him the opportunity of a better future than his parents and aunt.

Thank you Linda for introducing Binh to Doug, and thank you so much Doug for helping this little boy to be educated!

Binh's home is cheap to rent but it leaks when it rains; that is for about 2 months a year. His aunt is very creative and has many techniques for catching the rain inside. She is amazingly accepting although it is not nice at all for them. Her landlord will not do anything about it.

We hope we will be able to get some donations specifically to do some repairs to their roof.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nun Tam is now sponsored

Tam is now sponsored! Thanks to Sherrie Tam will now be educated. She has only been a nun for a few months and has adjusted well to this change. Her parents are very poor and some of their children have already left home due to lack of family funds to care for them. Her parents asked Tam to stop school as they couldn't afford to care for her easily, let alone afford to send her to school any more, but a local nun heard of the situation and took on her care. The problem for nuns in small and poor community is they receive very few donations and so she also wasn't sure how she could educate Tam and therefore approached CEF to see if we could help.

The US website is up

Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam website is up thanks to Emma's work. Please have a look at or