Saturday, November 30, 2013

Snippets of letters to her sponsor

Do you ever think about what you really wish for in your life  right now? Personally, I wish I could go back to the past.  I used to have parents and so enjoyed the time when all the family members had dinner together. I do know that it is impossible for that to become true now and anytime; I just wanted to share something that is in my mind with you.
Thanks to your help and encouragement, I now have enough good conditions, as well as the motivation to study better and better. I deeply express my gratefulness to you.
Now, I am in grade 12. It means that I have to choose a university to apply for soon. I wonder which university is good for me?
I may stop my career dream and find another university which is more suitable for my family’s economic conditions. I live off my paternal grandparents; I must obey them and respect their opinion. Therefore, I am hesitating now because I am very keen on pursuing my dream, however, I am not allowed to, and more seriously, I really have to give up my dream for ever.

I feel very sorry about failing the entrance exams for university. I have no one to blame because it is my fault. I made my grandparents, you and anyone who cares for me disappointed. I feel ashamed it is my fault. When I found out my results, I could not believe them, but I have to learn how to accept reality.
I applied for several jobs in factories, like factories to make shoes, but all of the factories refused my application form due to my age. I am not old enough to have a job and they do not want to pay a fine for hiring children under 18. I felt powerless.
However, my family members, Ms Linda and CEF staff gave me a lot of care, encouragement and advice to persevere and continue to study and that was so helpful. It was the motivation for me to make up my mind to continue and try again.
The last day of summer vacation has gone and I know that I have to stand up on my own and overcome any obstacles or challenges which are waiting for me. I will choose the right road to go down and I believe that I can do well.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Adaptability is essential in Vietnam

Vietnamese are amazingly adaptable; I greatly admire this quality. To live here one has to be adaptable whether Vietnamese or 'Western'.

This long thin country with the coast hugging its whole length, and with its numerous waterways, is very vulnerable to typhoons, tropical storms and floods.

In my local town Hoi An, most buildings were built with a hatch and a pulley on the second floor to originally pull up products for storage as it was a trading town and a busy port in the past. These hatches are used now to pull up furniture through when it floods. The newer buildings, and renovated building don't have these hatches and require carrying everything up to the mezzanine or second floor; a tedious, but essential process which some businesses and homes have had to do three times in the last two months. Sometimes the flooding is so bad that the flood waters even reach there; fortunately this is rare, but this week was the case for some businesses and homes in Hoi An.

When the market floods as was the case over the last few days, work continues whether there is flooding or not; they just move to another street that isn't flooded. 

 The homes and businesses on the water front suffered the most in our town, on both Hoi An side, on An Hoi and on Cam Nam islands that are adjacent to Hoi An.

In Hoi An after each flood, household items that are damaged are put out on the street and are cleared away within hours. The system is perfect, because flooding is such a normal occurrence. Within two days of major flooding you would never know it happened.

In the countryside around Hoi An, and in the mountains near by the poorest people live very vulnerable lives; often living in flood zones. Regular flooding is normal for them. They accept that they will lose a few days quite often through rainy season to deal with flooding at their homes.

The government does very well at notifying us of possible flooding. When we know of flooding that is due everyone prepares and the most vulnerable are evacuated to higher and safer accommodation, community halls or schools. Unfortunately occasionally not all in the low populated and isolated areas get this warning and help and they suffer the most.

The biggest challenge for all of us is when the dams release water without word getting around that it will happen, or getting to us as they do it. The release of dam water can cause a very rapid rise in water, causing unexpected and very bad flooding. The government does not fine them sufficient enough fines for them not to do this. This is what makes it a very precarious life for all of us, but especially for some of the poor. There is notification more these days, so word is getting out to most of us before it occurs. But what is sad is that those in more isolated areas don't get this last minute information, making it impossible for them to be prepared and to get to somewhere safer,  and sometimes results in fatalities unfortunately.

Today you would not know a flood took place over the weekend; everyone is back at work as the flood waters receded last night and everyone has washed away the mud left behind from their homes, front yards and the path or road in front of their home and thrown away anything that can't be repaired.

The photos were taken by many local friends from my home town over the last few days of flooding.

Pictures tell a story; these are of Ngoc

'Pictures tell a story', so I hope these pictures help you to know Ngoc who is a wonderfully bright, caring, compassionate, adaptable young woman. I feel most fortunate to have her working full time with us.

                                                          Doing home visits on a bike
 There weren't enough chairs as often is the case
                                                  Sometimes babysitting is part of the job
                                                      Showing a book to one of our girls
                                           One of our families lives next to a railway line
                           Stopping to see the dam while doing home visits in the mountains
                               Gorgeous flowers in the front yard of one of 'our families' homes

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Donations making a difference; three girls are in school

Donations make a difference! A big thank you to my friend and her friends who made a difference! Lynette simply asked her friends to donate to CEF via PayPal, and over a few days funds rolled in. Those donations have enabled three girls to go to school. Thank you to you Lynette, and to your friends for their wonderful support and for 'making a difference' to the lives of 3 girls and their families.

Girls from poor communities often leave home early to look for work in the big cities. They risk being trafficked into the sex industry or into forced labor in factories or enslaved as domestic servants and expected to fulfill all the households 'needs'. The girls your funds have helped are at risk as they are all from very poor families in a countryside farming community. 

Chang comes from a large family and her parents have a very low income. They are rice farmers in northern Vietnam. Their rice crops feed them, but for cash they grow some vegetables and dad does local building work when there is some, and plays in a band at both weddings and funerals; the music sounds exactly the same for both. They still can’t make ends meet.
Chang is in secondary school, in grade 8 this year and is a bright girl with an average of 8/10. She loves math.
We have allocated some of the funds to help her through this year of school while we look for a sponsor for the remaining 4 years of her schooling.

Lieu is from a large and poor farming family. We decided to help Lieu as her sister, Huong who is bright, refuses to do any vocational training or college studies due to her sense of responsibility to support her very poor family. If we help her sister it naturally reduces the financial stress for the family. Now Huong also has promised to do vocational training next year allowing her to have a much better income than the poorly paid factory job she is doing at present.  
Lieu has just moved up to high school, into grade 10. She enjoys literature but finds most subjects challenging. Unfortunately Lieu Is not bright, making it even more important that she completes school. Her options if she drops out of school otherwise are early marriage and motherhood, garbage collecting, or being a dog’s body for a building team as no decent work is possible for an underage employee.
We have allocated some of the funds to cover her costs this year and hope to find her a sponsor for the last two years of her education.

Phai who is a healthy and happy girl, is from a poor farming family. Fortunately their home is stable and strong although old; it was constructed when her parents were married about 20 years ago.
Dad can’t work due to poor health and eyesight. The family income rests on the mother’s shoulders and fortunately she is strong and healthy enough to do all the farming, but just can’t earn enough for Phai’s education. Although they have a low income, mum is practical and down to earth and careful with their income.
Phai has moved into high school this year, into grade 10. She likes literature and math and is a moderately good student.
We have allocated some of the funds to cover her costs this year and hope to find her a sponsor for the last two years of her education.

Linda Burn
Founding Director and In-Country Director - Vietnam

Children Education Foundation - Vietnam
For donations or sponsorship payments: PayPal is on both the blog and website

Friday, November 1, 2013

Phuc Le girls CEF was able to help due to a generous donation

Donations really make a difference and I wanted to share this so you can see an example of the difference they do make.

We were visiting a poor poor community and were told 11 girls needed help as they were all from very poor families wo could not afford their education, and could we interview them and help them TODAY. We had some basic info on them and had just enough time to do further interviews on each girl. In my mind we would find sponsors and then help them knowing for sure they each had someone who would help them through their education.

Then I remembered a donation I had received and realized that would enable me to help the 11 girls NOW!

Here are the 11 who will all need a sponsors next year, but for now they are in school and have some educational support for this year.  Donations really are a true blessing!