Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas day visits

I had not remembered it was Christmas day until someone wished me Merry Christmas that morning. It was a Merry Christmas day as we spent it visiting children in our education sponsorship programs, taking them oranges and mung bean cookies (and yes they taste as bad as they sound).

All the children we visited that day have a parent or parents who are rice farmers. On this day many were plowing or planting as it was considered by their calender to be a good day for preparing the soil and planting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Home visits at the beginning of the school year

I always enjoy visiting the children at the beginning of the school year as they are excited about being back at school; especially to be able to have time with their good friends.  Some are happy to see their teachers and have classes; but seeing friends is what gets them excited.

Most are very happy to see us and talk about school and how they are doing too. The planning, travel and time needed for the visits is a lot of work for us, but we also greatly enjoy seeing the children and have fun too!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our mobile library has started on a small scale!

Some books that went out to the children
We have been able to start our mobile library on a very small scale, due to some donations.
Second lot of books that went out to the children

It has been wonderful seeing the children choosing books and how thrilled they are to have them to read.

One of the first books out to one of our girls in the education program locally.

It's also very exciting having donations that allow us to get more books! Thank you to the book donors!
Now our next goal is funds for a motorbike so we can carry hundreds more books per visit and then be able to lend to the children's siblings as well as their parents!

The books purchased this weekend!

Our last book donation allowed us to get all these books! They just need plastic covers and to be put in a Ziploc bag and they then will be taken to our Da Nang children next weekend.

Donations can be made via PayPal on the website (please specifiy if donations are for books or towards the motorbike):

Many don't have a feeling of, or experience of, security or safety

I can lock my doors and windows and rest knowing my house has a high degree of security. I am amongst the priviledged.

When you can't lock your front door or windows, maybe because you haven't got any or perhaps because they can just be opened easily, it is not a nice feeling to live with, but it's especially unpleasant and worrying when you have children.

We look at many of the traditional homes and admire how beautiful they are, which they are, and see how talented they are to make a home from bamboo and coconut palm leaves or plant fibre matting. But what we don't realize is the vulnerability they live with. They don't choose such homes because they like to build with authentic materials; they build with natural cheap materials as that is the only option for many if they want a home.

They have few possessions as well due to poverty. What would be the sense in having possessions when someone can just walk in and take them when you go shopping at the market.

Walls made of plastic or fibre matting don't give a feeling of security or safety. Bringing up children in such a vulnerable situation is an added stress for the families.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Importance of Education - by guest blogger Daphne Nguyen of Thought Threads

The importance of education flows through our lives so frequently that I think many people forget that it is still an issue in our global society. Like food, water and shelter, I feel that education is a basic need that everyone deserves to have but there are millions of children out there who are not about to attend school.
Developing a stable educational opportunity for children in an unstable environment can be the key to changing communities. That is why my organization Thought Threads and I support the Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam. We are proud sponsors of Linda's work and a little girl named Dieu. Our partnership is created out of a mutual agreement that education is an important aspect of helping children and families combat poverty by giving girls that opportunity for economic independence in the future.
By nurturing girls through sponsorship, we hope to make literacy a priority, economic independence possible and change inevitable. We recognize the educational privileges that we have and would like to share it with others less fortunate and that is why our partnership with the Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam is an important step toward making a difference.
Daphne Nguyen
Thought Threads

Friday, July 6, 2012

Photos of Hanh, her mother and youngest sister, by Ian Scrivener

Hanh's mother has four children; she is uneducated and unable to earn much as a part time fisher woman. Hanh is bright and wants a future career in the medical field. She is capable of this and determined. CEF is supporting her to be educated and have a future with choices.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Photos by Ian Scrivener: Some of our children in Danang

Ian Scrivener our volunteer photographer

Ian Scrivener, has volunteered to take photos for us recently and his photos are delightful. He is able to capture the spirit of the children.

Ian is formerly a professional photographer and photo journalist and has had a life long passion for photography.

Ian started a web services business in 1993 at the very time of the start of modern Internet development and services. Over the years he has worked with a cross-section of corporate, start-up and government clients in Australia, USA, China, Singapore and Thailand. 
Ian is here in Hoi An enjoying the food and people. He is an independent volunteer and is working with a number of local international NGOs on capacity development; helping them improve business efficiencies and upgrading many of their business, marketing and communication systems.

He loves sailing and travel which he isn't getting to do much of at present as his skills are very much in demand, but we were able to satisfy his love of photography by asking him to capture a few occasions. Although no longer a photographer by profession he still doesn't like to miss the opportunity to take photos.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our mobile library

Linh, a friend from Ho Chi Minh City gave us our first books for our mobile library. The books included a wonderful selection for children from 5-18 years old. There were folk stories, stories of empowered women, inspirational stories and books that inspired self-reflection and self-development.

Our mobile library will take books to the children we work with throughout Quang Nam province. Some of the children live in isolated communities as much as three hours travel away from our Hoi An Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam base. When we visit the children they can borrow three books until the next visit. If we find they are avid readers we will lend them more books.

A fundraising effort has just started for this project and an offer for some support for the first year too. It is an excellent beginning!!! 

This project gives me great happiness at the thought of books being available to children who have none, who have no access to them and especially for those who are intelligent and enthusiastic students. No matter how much we have raised and no matter how many books we have we will be out sharing what we have with the children in August!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A movie about the importance of education in Danang

The children from Hoa Van leper community are all teenagers and as there was a Vietnamese comedy about the importance of education on in Danang we decided to take them to see it for a summer holiday treat. Everyone enjoyed it and had a good laugh. Although it had no subtitles I even found it funny and clever. We ended with a meal at the movie complex and we also gave them some little presents. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Children's Education Foundation wants to encourage literacy

                                  Literacy is important for each person as well as their nation.

To be literate gives a person many more employment opportunities. They are able to learn new skills and subjects any time as well. A literate person has high self-esteem, is more Independence, knows their rights, and is unlikely to be exploited. They are an asset to their country.

A CEF goal is to have a mobile library. We hope this year we can bring this into reality; it won't take much to do this. We need a hardy motorbike, a good helmet and waterproof for the librarian with solid waterproof panniers, and many books! I mention the word waterproof a lot as we have a long wet season with heavy tropical rains.

All the impoverished children we have given books to so far didn't own a book and there were none in the home as all their parents are poor to have books, but also most are illiterate. The children all know how to read as they have learnt at school. When each child has received a book they immediately have started reading and didn't put their bookt down for quite some time. Most of the children we help with education live in isolated communities; school isn't very near for most, let alone a library. A mobile library makes sense versus a library for each of the 11 communities we work with in Quan Nam.  
Some interesting and important points other organizations have made about literacy:

"Did you know that 796 million people in the world today cannot read or write? That’s one out of every five adults, and most of them live in developing countries." Room to Read

 UNESCO says about literacy
..." the ability to identify, understand, interpret, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying context. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Children's Education Foundation believes and knows that an education makes a difference to a girls future but is it enough?

Children's Education Foundation wants girls to have a future with choices. What does that demand?

An education is needed to have choices
If you are uneducated your choices are severely limited here. The future of an uneducated female looks like what I see almost every day; an early marriage to a so so man, the first child within the first year of marriage, some verbal and physical abuse, struggle to make ends meet and then the cycle continues with them not being able to afford to educate their children. Or it might be the other common option we see; no marriage, no permanent man and one, two or three children, and they struggle to make ends meet and find it almost impossible to send any of the children to school. At present we are helping quite a few single mothers with the education costs for their children.

But the cycle is inclined to continue and continue.... deep female and cultural conditioning is strong, and even stronger in such traditional societies as in Vietnam. With a decent income at least it removes most of the daily back-breaking struggle. but that is not enough to make conscious wise choices that are different to what one sees around one.

What else does it take to have a future with choices
A girl I know is getting married this week and her situation has triggered me to complete working on an additional program we can do here besides giving academic education to many girls. She is an intelligent, English-speaking, university-educated 26 year old woman and is choosing to marry a lazy uneducated man, who is also a heavy drinker. His family are traditional vegetable farmers and she will now have to get up at 3am to pick the vegetables before the sun rises. At 6am when she finishes she will get ready for work, eat her breakfast and then go to her daytime job. Her parents are intelligent and have not done everything totally traditionally. Her mother for example married late, is hard working and is now a student Buddhist nun and her husband readily accepts this. He is an intelligent hard-working man. Her choice will mean a hard life.

The program I am working on including creative writing, art and photography, I hope will start the process of the girls we work with at least having the possibility of being more reflective, and conscious of the choices they make.

Monday, May 7, 2012

3 of the points that are important to Children's Education Foundation

Talking with one of the mothers of two girls we sponsor

She is very caring and looks after several of the girls in our sponsorship program who are all child nuns

With one of the little nuns we sponsor

One of our part-time staff members hanging out with some of the children we sponsor

One of our part-time staff members went shopping and bargaining for all these household items for one of the single mothers who has just built a small home with help from the local government for her and her daughter

I would like to share three aspects I consider integral to Children's Education Foundation. They all overlap to some degree.
1. Loving kindness
2. Treating all equally and respectfully
3. Quality versus quantity

Loving kindness
It sounds rather esoteric, but there is no better way to put it than 'loving kindess'; care or caring doesn't quite express it
It is in the nature of caring staff to manifest loving kindness; they manifest it in meetings and when we get together with the children or children and any family
It naturally manifests when responding appropriately to the situation of any child, parent or carer  
One of the main reasons I still visit all children is because I want them to know I personally care about them
The needs of each child are not quite the same and to know that requires time with each child
To express that to a potential sponsor, or sponsor, requires that I know and understand the child and their needs; in doing that we hope our sponsor will care too
One other way we express this is by doing whatever we can to keep children who have lost one or both parents with the remaining relative or with a family member and being as supportive as possible of that person so that they can continue to care for the child

Treating all equally and respectfully
Some of the parents and carers are uneducated, or only went to school for a few years, some are badly mannered as no one ever taught them manners and some unfortunately are very sick and have a very unpleasant odor; no matter what they all deserve some help and the same care 
Some children are angry or hurt and haven't got the best of attitudes, but we just ignore their attitude and do the best to treat them the same as the sweet and lovable children, as they deserve to be treated the same
Giving a number or code to a child feels disrespectful; I don't believe in giving the children we help either numbers or codes
I admit it gets challenging when there are 6 girls called Hang; but then we add their adjacent name when we refer to them
We even have three girls called Thuy Hang, so they become Thuy Hang in Binh Phuc, Thuy Hang in college 

Quality versus quantity
We need to be able to continue to have enough time with the children, to know them and any family living with them, as well as their and their family's needs; that is not possible if we have too many children
It's not a matter of employing more staff, as it is I who also needs to have enough time with the children
With all the administration work needed I can't spend quality time with the children if we help large numbers of children

The next six weeks will be filled with time with our Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam angels and dynamos

Over the next six weeks we will have a great deal of time with our Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam angels and dynamos. It's a time of year I particularly look forward to and so do the children.

School holidays start shortly and although most children still attend some classes they have more leisure time at this time of year than any other.

We have already made our term 2 visits to the Nui Thanh, Tam Ky, Nong Son and Que Son children. As usual it was wonderful to see them. As the children I birthed became adults quite some years ago I keep forgetting how quickly children change. It constantly surprises me how their faces change, how they grow taller so quickly, how they mature, and especially how our relationship with them blossoms.

Some families bring me to tears with their warmth, gratitude and generosity when they themselves have almost nothing. Some of the children are quite feisty, or spirited, which actually I think is necessary to progress in life here. Some are very artistic and love sharing their artwork, and some are very quiet, serious and withdrawn even after many years of knowing them. So far we don't know why, but still hope that one day they will come out of their shells.

We have children to visit in Phuc Le in Thai Binh province, and five communities still to visit in Quang Nam and children from two communities in Danang.

We also have a summer treat for all the children; the Quang Nam children will have a water safety talk, floating and swimming lessons, games on the beach, lunch and a tour of the UNESCO protected historic town of Hoi An. The Danang children are an older age group and it's a long way for them to come to us, so we are going to them and have a more mature morning planned of movie snacks, a movie at the cinema, and pizza for lunch; things they can't afford to do or eat. The Thai Binh children will be coming together for an afternoon tea, a quiz and variety of rope, ball and group games. There will be prizes awarded for the best 24 drawings the children have done in the fortnight prior to the competition; 2 will be awarded to children in each of the 12 years of school. Gifts are given to take home and photos of the events are given to each of the children too.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam Newsletter

Last week after a huge tropical storm that suddenly came through locally many discovered it had left their rice crops damaged, their peanuts destroyed and some of their corn too. That means poverty here will be worse as many now have much less food to sell or rice to eat. The price of rice will go up affecting all those who are struggling already.

To me it was an amazing storm, but to most in this area it was a life-changing storm. I feel for those we help here; they are trying so hard to make ends meet, but now they have added challenges.

Enjoy our newsletter which is not filled with storms; but is filled with good news. Please share it with your work associates and your friends who would be interested in hearing about how CEF - Vietnam is helping children receive an education in Vietnam.

In sharing it with one person it might mean another girl or two will receive an education and have the ability to help their whole family and community in the future. Or it could mean that a child with poor health who is bright, but exhausted from school due to her poor health, will be able to have the required medical care and be able to enjoy her schooling and do even better.

The link to our CEF - Vietnam Newsletter: http://www.cef-vietnam-usa.org/news.html

Thank you, Linda

Linda Burn
Founding Director
In-Country Manager - Vietnam
Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam

'Helping Girls Grow to be Women with Choices'

US website: www.cef-vietnam-usa.org

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Linda from Go Philanthropic Foundation shares more about her visit

A special part of GoPhilanthropic Foundation’s recent visit to CEF was visiting some girls and their families from the leper community outside DaNang. I was a bit nervous about this as, despite my health care background, I know relatively little about leprosy. Again, normalcy prevailed as all were so genuinely happy to see us and, giggling appreciatively, received the rice and other goodies we offered them in their New Years TET baskets. Unfortunately, leprosy still exists and lepers are still shunned in Vietnam and are not allowed to integrate, though more recently the government has apparently become more interested in integration so perhaps things will change.

Things will also change because of the medical fund CEF has in place for the children (at least one severely malnourished little girl had been helped so far) and because of the fledgling new entrepreneurial microloan program, supporting self-sufficiency.

All in all, we can hardly wait to return next year to see our CEF friends and learn more about the advances being made because of their dedication and hard work. This kind of experience reaffirms that everyone can help in some way and that it is truly a small world!

Linda DeWolf
GoPhilanthropic Foundation

About GoPhilanthropic:

GOPhilanthropic’s goal is to connect donors with a small, carefully selected group of NGO’s around the world, striving to provide effective, creative and sustainable solutions to the global issues. And, we found that Linda’s program offers those solutions in spades through its school sponsorship program.

Linda of Go Philanthropic writes about her visit to CEF

Recently, my colleagues (Tracey and Mary Jo) and I from U.S. based GoPhilanthropic Foundation had the extraordinary pleasure of visiting CEF. We were so warmly welcomed and moved by the children we met as well as by their stories… a boy living with his grandmother who was so painfully shy he could do nothing but avoid our eye contact and hide in a corner, a young girl who had previously been forced to work in the fish industry and who now was gaining increasing confidence as she did well in school.

Sitting down to chat with Linda Burn, CEF director, in her office and looking out over the lush, green that is Vietnam, we were quickly brought to harsh reality as she described the horrifying reality of trafficking problems in Vietnam. She states emphatically that every girl in school is one less trafficked and we couldn’t agree more! One thing that can help with this problem is to sponsor a young girl so that she can attend school. We learned that over 130 children (mostly girls but a few boys too), often in the most desperate of situations, have been given hope through educational sponsorship. Our Foundation has, in fact, found sponsors for 13 children so far.

Linda provided us with the great opportunity of connecting with some of the children our donors have sponsored. We played games with them, did an art project and enjoyed a meal together. We could have been anywhere at that moment in time.

Linda DeWolf GoPhilanthropic Foundation

About GoPhilanthropic:
GOPhilanthropic’s goal is to connect donors with a small, carefully selected group of NGO’s around the world, striving to provide effective, creative and sustainable solutions to the global issues. And, we found that Linda’s program offers those solutions in spades through its school sponsorship program.