Saturday, March 24, 2012

A sponsorship takes on a different perspective when the sponsored child is met in person

Stephen has just met the young lady he is putting through college through our sponsorship program.

His sponsorship felt very different after meeting her in person, instead of just knowing her from the photos of her, her letters and our reports. Although he felt he knew her a little before it just felt different to meet her in person; even though she was quiet and shy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stephen's visit to Vietnam

Many of you will know Stephen Jackel, our USA coordinator. He has been instrumental in many ways; registering CEF Vietnam in New York, doing masses of paperwork to make the tax exempt status come about and he also has encouraged many to sponsor. Stephen also does all the receipting and thank you letters in the States.

Stephen has come over to Vietnam for a short visit. This has been a great opportunity for Stephen to get to know our work, our staff and the Vietnamese children more. We had an evening at CEF where he met all our lovely staff. It was nice for him to see who is carrying out the work here and to see the standard of their work.

He then came on two days of interviews of 22 new children that took place in Danang, Hoi An, Dien Ban and Dai Loc. These children have recently been introduced. He was sad after the interviews, feeling overwhelmed by their hardships that they endure on a daily basis.

He met a single mother who earns $0.15c to $0.25c a day selling beetle nuts when her health allows. He met a granny caring for 3 grandchildren and her disabled daughter with a little help from one of her sons and his wife. One girl needs help as her mum is dying from ovarian cancer and their medical bills and consequently debt is huge. He met one of the families we have been helping for nearly three years now; the mother died when her baby was three months old and dad has been trying to raise his daughter and baby son. We help with her education costs, and we give the family some help with medical bills and food. And there were many more Stephen met over the weekend.

It is just our work to visit and interview those introduced to us. Maybe it's not a good thing, but we are just so used to everyone who is introduced to CEF being very poor. We are just looking at what level of severe poverty they are suffering from, how dire is their situation, and how quickly we need to help their children go to school or stay in school.

As Stephen has not been to Da Lat before I thought he would be interested to see the clinic we built there to provide free medicine and free medical care to the K'Ho community on the outskirts of Da Lat. This clinic was needed as so few children in the community were in school due to poor health. Also many years ago I met K'Dong who is from this community. I care for dearly; she is like a sister. Stephen saw the clinic, the local school and he met K'Dong and many of her family including her four gorgeous children. Stephen took balloons for the children which they loved.

Each time I have visited Da Lat I have found out what supplies the little school in the community needs and we have provided them. It is near the end of the school year and they didn't need much; just some rulers, notebooks, pencils, coloring pencils, pens and crayons. Today we took these supplies to the three classes in the village.

The Red Cross are running the clinic for us and that now has challenges that we need to resolve. In the last big storm some windows were broken and some damage was done to the roof. Repairs clearly are needed. This clinic is the site for all the medical care for the community, so we need to find a way to get it repaired; as it's a cost the Red Cross can't carry.

Tomorrow we are off to Hanoi as Stephens flight leaves from there. It is also a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Mr Chu our northern coordinator for the Phuc Le education program. Stephen will also get to meet his sponsor child who is studying at university in Hanoi. He is looking forward to that!

It's been a quick trip but he has a had a good taster of the work we are doing to help girls stay in school and to have an education so that they have a future with more choices than their own parents.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A visit to a sponsored child

We have just had a sweet visit.

The sister of a sponsor was coming on holiday to Vietnam and discovered that her sister had an educational sponsorship and was helping a girl in central Vietnam with her education. This was one of the areas she was going to visit so she contracted us and asked to visit her sisters 'sponsor child'. There was a tiny gap of time that she could make the visit in, but we were able to arrange it. She met the little girl and her family.

She kindly brought some school supplies and a little toy for her and all the gifts were opened and looked at carefully. She appreciated each one.

Afterwards she very sweetly said that she thinks it was the highlight of her time in Vietnam.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Women's Day in Hoi An

It's Women's Day here! And for many years it has been traditional to give a flower to the closest woman in your life and to honor the others somehow. Many give a single rose with a little greenery. That may cost 4 cents, so most people can do that.

The area outside the local university was lined with students selling flowers for Women's Day throughout the day. There is a need and they are filling it. A friend of mine was telling me how he used to do it when he was a student, but he never made a lot. He would buy roses in bulk for around 2,000 vnd each (about 1 cent) and sell half at a profit, but usually half were left as they were too ugly or too small and therefore really in the end the profit of the day might only be 50 cents after the days work.

We went to see Nhung and honored her. She is a lovely woman; gentle, kind, compassionate, a good woman, and wife, and mother. She is also a Buddhist and a vegetarian in the hope she will create less negative karma.

When we got there she was resting as she had a lot of pain in her head today. She has brain cancer. Her son helped her into the living room, then went off to do some cooking. As it was Woman's Day he was cooking a simple meal for the family.

We are helping her daughter with English classes, her schooling and extra tuition; she was at an extra tuition class during our visit.

We didn't want to stay too long as she wasn't well, but we gave her some orchids in a basket, a certificate in Vietnamese and English saying what a wonderful woman she was, and an album of photos of her and the family, and some money, which was for her to spend on herself.

As usual it was lovely to see her as she is such a gentle, loving soul and we were treated to her smile and the tenderness on her beautiful face.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why there are so many illiterate adults in their 40's and 50's

I had an interesting talk with a Vietnamese friend. I asked her why she thought so many of the parents of the children we help are illiterate. She told me even though there were some teachers who were brave enough to continue to teach through the war, many children weren't brave enough to go to school.

She told me she had always had a rebellious spirit and loved school so she was determined to go every day even though bombs were dropped near her often. She wore a military helmet to protect her head and a heavy jacket to protect her body on the way to school and back.

Her older siblings all left school and went to work. She too was asked by her family to leave school and work, but she loved school so much that she went to school and then to work.

She also told me that many families had years when they were on the move the whole time trying to avoid the fighting and to try and make a living. Many families needed all their children to work too, to try and make ends meet during this period of time.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

12 children waiting for interviews

This is Sanh, the only boy of the 12 children waiting for interviews. He lives with his grandmother, disabled aunt and his mother in his uncles home as they don't have a home. His mothers income of $35 a month doesn't go far enough.

This term has only recently started and we already have been asked to start helping twelve children with their education costs next term. When I read about these children it reminded me of how so many struggle to cover even some of the basics, let alone education.

Some of the children we will be interviewing are Thuy who is cared for by her elderly grandmother. Trinh only has one living relative; her mother who has poor health and when she can work earns 10 cents a day. Suong lives with her mother and little sister; both have poor health and mum works as hired labor when she can. Mai's father is mentally unwell and mum's income isn't enough to care for them. Nga lives with her mother, two sibling and ill grandmother and mum can't earn enough. Thuong's mum has cancer and can't work much any more and is trying to support two children. And so the stories go on....