Thursday, December 31, 2015

Donations for Tet Food Parcels for the poorest of the CEF family needed

The most important annual celebration in Vietnam, Tet, (Vietnamese New Year) is coming soon! The poor can not afford to celebrate, making it a time of stress and disappointment, instead of one of happiness. It's a time of cleaning, renewal, forgiving, paying off debts and expressing gratitude and part of that means buying some new clothing to see the year in, and sharing special food with friends, family and neighbors. None of that is possible if they are poor.

We would like to help them enjoy this special and important event by giving some foods and treats for them to share. We are asking for donations for Tet Food Parcels for our poorest families.
When donating please specify the donation is for Tet Food Parcels.

Payment details including PayPal are on both the USA site ( and and Australian site ( Please use the relevant site (Americans and Canadians please use USA site, all other nationalities please use the Australian site).
We wish to bring them some happiness and hope you can help too!

Thank you,
Linda Burn, Founding Director and in-Country Manager - Vietnam
Children's Education Foundation

(Pictures are of  'Lucky Envelopes' in which we put some money for the children to buy themselves a treat. This is part of the Tet Food Parcel we give.)

Monday, November 30, 2015

An interview

When we visited the student who had been referred to us, we found her living at a small and shabby roadside stall with her granny who she lives with. 

They were working as they had a guest at their 'restaurant'. They sell drinks, incense and half-formed duck eggs with a side of pickles. These eggs are considered to give sexual vitality, and therefore are very popular with the Vietnamese men. 

Once the guest had departed we sat down to talk with them. Although life is hard for them they both smiled a lot. 

So many families have challenges from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep, but still smile, and amazingly accept their lot with humor. 

The student we interviewed
With granny
 Their food stall
Their bed

Friday, October 30, 2015

About one of the CEF families in the mountains ~ Guest blog by Thuy

Once again last month I had a chance to visit CEF children and their families in a mountainous area we work in, as my colleague who takes responsibility in this area was on maternity leave. This is also my favorite area to work because the families are so poor but still positive and keep working hard.

The home-visits not only help us to find out about the changes in their families, but also to understand more about their children that we help, as well as help build closer relationships with children and their families.

It was 6 months since my first visit and it was enough time to see the changes in the families and children. They don't feel embarrassed when talking to me, even the first time. Most of the children freely share their feelings, their news at school and at home, their hobbies and dreams. Most of families have changed very little. Some families are a little better off, but some are worse off. Among those families.

I was very touched with T's family story. T's family is an extremely poor household and because of their poverty the 17 years old daughter decided to quit school when she was 16 years old to earn money and help the family. The mother agreed with her decision. However, she couldn’t find a good job at her age, so she worked in a coffee shop for a year. She met someone and got pregnant and had to get married after that. The mother was so depressed because she used to believe that T's sister was a smart and good girl and could help the family out financially if she went to work. Now she is also very worried because her daughter is too young to be a mother, and to be good daughter-in-law for her husband’s family. She also realized that this was a valuable experience about the importance of education. She cried and said ‘If my family gets any poorer then I will have to sell everything I own. I won’t let my other daughters stop their studies because I now know that their futures could end up the same as their older sister’. We were very sad when we heard about their story. However, it is still good in another way as the mother has realized the importance of keeping girls in school.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A visit to beautiful Hanoi to see some of our tertiary students there

We recently visited beautiful Hanoi on our way to Thai Binh to see all our students there. This stop enabled us to catch up with CEF's tertiary students in Hanoi. The new students have adjusted well to their student life and we are pleased to say our more established students are all doing well. It was lovely to see them and observe how they have grown into such lovely young adults. I felt like a proud mother.

We caught up with each of them at a coffee shop, then took them to dinner. After dinner we walked around Hoan Kiem Lake and had ice cream. What a lovely and special time it was. 

(Photo of Hoan Kiem Lake)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Some of the CEF students work so hard to maintain a high standard

Some students work so hard to achieve a high standard at school and spend an unbelievable amount of hours each day to do this. This CEF student has a very sweet sponsor who offered her private English tuition, but she hasn't the time as she already is doing 18 hours of extra tuition sessions out of her school hours, plus all her school classes, and compulsory extra tuition at school, and all her home work! To maintain her standard she can't fit in more English classes as it will detract from her studies, and so she will need to wait until next summer to do the English course.

Some students really impress us at CEF with their attitude and the amount of time they put into studying without any external pressure due to their yearning to do really well at school.
This little grade 4 sweetheart is an only child of a single parent who is poor and hardly received any education herself, as was the case with her own mother. She works hard at school, studies a lot at home, and is the best student in her class. We and her mother are very proud of her, her efforts and her results.

One of our CEF students recently decided to stop being a novice nun. She loved being a novice nun, loved the peace and tranquility and the Buddhist studies.  But she is also very intelligent and an excellent student and could fit in the required school studies and maintain her standard while in secondary school. But she realized that once she entered high school it would be very hard to allocate the time needed to maintain her high standard. The work load is about twice as much when they are in high school. As she wants a university education she decided it was best to leave now before grade 10 started. She is content with her decision and we are sure she will do very well.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Snippets of CEF students letters

One of our tertiary students wrote about their summer:
.....During the summer I had to join in on some classes at college so I didn’t travel anywhere. Besides studying at college I also did a part time job which was suitable to my ability. Therefore I didn’t feel it was difficult or hard. I just quit that job at the beginning of the new school year because I want to concentrate to my study. 
However, there were many interesting things I did this summer. I did join some activities which were held by CEF such as the 'Water Safety and Beach Outing Day', and English classes at CEF. They were both fun and very helpful. 
And my aunts‘ family from Ha Noi went to my cousin’s wedding and then visited my family for a few days. I was very happy to see them because I hadn’t seen them for many years. The happiest day was my birthday because all my family and aunts’ family organized a small party for me at home. I really enjoyed it so much.....

One of our grade 11 students wrote about her summer:
....This summer the weather was terribly hot in Hoi An. It made us all, especially the farmers, feel tired and uncomfortable. With the weather being like this the beach became an amazing place for many people. At the beach we could enjoy the cool wind and cool water, or we could lie down and hear the soothing waves. 
Two months ago I joined in on the 'Water Safety and Beach Outing Day' with CEF, and of course, our destination was a beach in Hoi An. We learned swimming and played many games in the water for the whole morning. This was so much fun. After having lunch together we went to the cinema and watched a comedy. What a wonderful summers day that was! 
However, there were also a few cool days with rain this summer because of some storms in the ocean. If there hadn't been these cool days, I think there would be many people who would have gotten sick from the terrible heat.....

A secondary school child wrote about her friend who is like a sister:
...Thanks to getting encouragement from my parents, my family and CEF my results were much better in the second term. And there is a person that I cannot forget; it is my close friend Ngan. She is a tiny girl with short hair and a kind face. Because she is very meek, she is often bullied by other naughty male students. Her family is very poor and live very far from school. In the school year, every morning, Ngan and I go to school early to review the recent lessons and prepare for the new lessons. We often share our happiness and sadness together. In my mind Ngan is my sister, and a family member. And I also feel you, Linda and CEF staff are like my family members too. I wish all you good health, happiness and success in your work. I promise I will make more efforts in my study to get better results in this school year to make you, CEF and my parents happy.......

A secondary school girl wrote about being very happy with her results and a celebratory party:
...At the end of the last school year I was so happy because I was chosen as the best student in grade 6 at my school. My family cheered my achievement by making a small party at home. It made me so happy. I promised to myself that I will study really well in order not to deny my mother of her expectations of me. 
Sometimes I go out and play with Hien, my close friend. She is very humorous and friendly. We often share our stories and feelings together. After talking to her I always feel happier and fresher.....

Letters translated by staff from Vietnamese to English

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy International Literacy Day 2015!

"Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, required for creating sustainable societies."

CEF believes in the importance of literacy. One of our support programs is our 'Literacy Education Program' which includes a 'Mobile Library'.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Wonderful news that two girls have just been sponsored

We at CEF are so pleased that these two girls have sponsors as they are so deserving of this educational support. 'T' works hard at school and is an excellent student. Her father has part of his arm missing and mum has leprosy, although it is controlled by medications. Her parents ability to earn is very limited because of their disabilities.

'D' is also a very hard working student and does very well at school. Her mother has heart disease and although she has had cardiac surgery she is still not well enough to work. They have a large debt due to the high cost of her heart surgery. Although dad has a work-related back injury and moderate health, he doesn't let that stop him from working as much as he can to support his family. They are a very sweet family too.

We are very grateful to their new sponsors for helping them to stay in school and receive an education, enabling them to become educated with a future of possibility!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

School has started and more girls need scholarships such as these two

School has started! We need to let the girls in need of scholarships in the mountains know if they can continue their education. It's only US$150 for a scholarship for a year for one of the girls in this project.

This project's goal it to help get scholarships for girls in this mountainous area with the aim of keeping them safe, as well as educated giving them a future with choices. We don't work with trafficked girls, we work to avoid girls being trafficked.

This young lady wants to complete her last year of school.

She is of the Gie Trieng people. She has two brothers and one sister and sadly for the family their father died about 15 years ago. Her mother is a farmer who is often ill and when she has to stay in hospital, her daughter goes with her and looks after her. Like many ethnic minority people who are uneducated, her mother just goes to hospital when she feels really sick, and then goes back home when she feels well enough to leave, but without asking her doctor what her health problem is. When she goes to hospital she can use her medical insurance for 'poor people', however she has to pay for her own food and transport to and from hospital. The elder daughter can sometimes cover these fees.

The elder brother is married and lives with his own family in his own house and can’t support his mother, younger sister and little brother. The elder sister has married and has a daughter and lives with them. The younger brother dropped out of school in grade 5 as he was a terrible student and didn't like school.

She has free accommodation at the school dormitory as well as free lunch and dinner. Her mother sometimes gives her 25 cents for breakfast if she has money. Because this money is not enough to buy breakfast, she skips breakfast, and uses this money to buy education supplies she needs at the time. She is a very skinny girl because of skipping breakfast and working hard.

In the summer holiday and weekends she helps her family to do housework, collect wood and do the farming. Because people in her home area don’t have money to hire others to work on their farms they often work in exchange for someone else’s work. She asks her friends to come and work at her family’s farm and then she goes to her friend’s farms and works for them. Because most of the farms are in the forest and very far from their homes, they have to walk for a few hours to get there so they bring their cooking equipment, food and clothes to the farms so they can stay and work until all the work is completed.

Last school year, she had 'fair' results. English is her favorite subject while math is her most challenging one. Her dream is to be a primary school teacher.

Her passion is football and sports which she is very good at

She is from the Gie Trieng minority tribe and lives in the mountains about 20 kilometers from the closest town. She is one of 7 children and unfortunately her father died 15 years ago while her mother was pregnant with the youngest child . Since then her mother has had to work very hard to look after the 7 kids and consequently looks very thin and old, but she is strong still. She seems to be very proud of her children.

Her mother has a large debt. In 2010, her mother borrowed $1,200 from a Government Bank to buy 3 buffalo and unluckily all three buffalo were stolen a few years after that. Then two years ago she borrowed $750 for planting Acacia Mangium and supporting her children’s education.

Because they are so poor their neighbors are kind and give them things that don't need any more, such as secondhand clothes, an old TV, an old bicycle and a cabinet. Some of these things are broken but they still try to use them, like the bike and a table.

Poor children understand how difficult it is for their mothers so they help with housework and farming. During the summer holiday and weekends she often helps with these chores, but also does a part time job in the town to earn money. To get home she walks and if possible hitches a ride with someone.

During the school year, she mainly boards but comes home to help her mother on the weekends and holidays. As with other poor students in her area she receives free accommodation at as well as free lunches and dinners. She skips breakfast as she can't afford it.

She is very good at playing football and other sports too. Last school year, she was a 'fair' student. We hope we can keep her in school for her last year.

Scholarships are only US$150 for a girl to have the chance to complete her high school education!

You can contact us at or use Paypal on (for US or Canadians) or Paypal on this blog on the front page. 

These scholarships make a big difference to the opportunities of employment they will have when they complete school. The girls live in an area near the border and like most countries the borders are porous and an excellent place for trafficking to take place. Keeping them safe is important. Our work is to keep them safe and to help them become educated women with choices. 
Thank you for your interest and support,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

CEF has a wonderful team here in the States

Last night we had our AGM in New York and I caught myself thinking during the meeting that we had a very caring, intelligent, proactive board, and on top of that I really like each of them.

Among the many subjects we discussed was adding two specific people to our board who have an incredible work history, multiple skills and a fountain of knowledge. We could learn so much from them both, so it was very exciting to know both of them wanted to be on the CEF board.

Prior to the meeting I had a call from a fundraising adviser who encouraged me to treat him like one of the board and ask questions any time I needed to. Such a generous spirit!

During the week I had been communicating with a very dear caring couple who are business advisers for CEF as they both have a business background, as well as NGO experience in Vietnam. We were discussing when to meet on their next two trips to Vietnam and what meetings, home visits and training with the staff was possible.

Also during the week a partner organization we have here in the States emailed me to inform me of sponsorships that have been renewed for this coming academic year. They have found sponsors for many of our CEF children and also help by keeping in touch with these sponsors.

These are just some of the wonderful people helping us.  I feel so blessed to have these selfless, caring, big-hearted friends supporting CEF to assist girls in Vietnam receive an education.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The CEF grannies

In each community CEF is working in there are many grannies with crucial roles. Some are the only source of love and care for the child, as well as providing a roof over their heads. Without these wonderful ladies, many children would be in orphanages.

CEF helps by ensuring the child's education costs are covered, sometimes provides food support and in some cases provides medical support for the grannies.

She has cared for her granddaughter since the girl's father died and mum left to find work in a large city, and ended up remarrying and has never returned home. Granddad sells lottery tickets when he is well enough, which helps to support the three of them. 

Granny who is a happy and warm lady has been the main care giver of many of her grandchildren while their parents work away from home in other towns, or locally. Often when we visited there were 5 or more children in her care. Fairly recently she had a stroke, but fortunately she has recovered.  A sponsor provides a medical supplement for granny's health care. 

Her father died, mum remarried, and she could no longer afford to care for her first daughter and so she now lives with her fathers' parents in the countryside. They love her greatly, but she still misses her mother a lot, but sometimes she gets to stay with her on weekends which makes both of them happy. The grandparents are lovely happy people and work hard as farmers, although granny can't work so hard any more as she has a serious lung condition.

Granny and granddad have cared for their three grandchildren since the children's parents drowned when the youngest was only a baby at the time. They find it hard work, but clearly love their grandchildren. They have done a wonderful job as all three children are sweet, caring and gentle. The grandparents are farmers and as they age are less capable of doing much farming. 
CEF has helped all three with their education and now the eldest granddaughter is employed and she is now able to help her grandparents a little financially. 

She lives with her caring granny in the countryside.  As the children get older they are able to reciprocate in some way. The grandparents have someone in the house to help with some of the chores.

This granny is at home when the children come home from school and mum is out working. Dad died and mum works to support her three children and her in-laws. Sadly granddad died recently.

Her granny helped to raise her along with her single mother and elderly aunt. She is very loved by her granddaughter who now studies away from home, but comes home often to spend time with her and her mother and elderly aunt.

She lives next door to her grandchildren. This has allowed mum to find work, while dad stays at home. Dad has suffered with hearing and mental health issues for about five years and granny is always there for them. 

The role of grandparents in Vietnam is still very important. I hugely admire these women who are often not in good health themselves, but they take their roles seriously and work hard to care for their grandchildren. We appreciate their selflessness as it means the child still feels loved and cared for creating much more stability in challenging circumstances.

(All are staff photos)

Friday, August 14, 2015

These girls can be kept safe from traffickers just by keeping them in school

We believe one way to help keep girls safe from traffickers, is to keep them in school.

We have many girls in need of scholarships in the mountains near the Vietnam-Laos border. A scholarship will mean they will stay in school, not just giving them a better future with choices, but in this area it keeps them safe from traffickers.

Trafficking mainly takes place along the borders of Vietnam and the victims are mainly girls from very poor families.

A scholarship for one of these girls who is vulnerable to traffickers is only US$150 for a child for a year.
Each person who takes on a scholarship will receive an annual update on the program and some photos at the end of the academic year.

Please contact me to arrange a scholarship: Linda


Update on CEF's 'Literacy Education Program'

July 2014 Update 
This important program not only gives the CEF students great joy and the opportunity for knowledge, stimulation and growth, but we also experience happiness and satisfaction as we  love to see the expressions of discovery and  joy on their faces when searching through books to make their choices. The staff love supporting this program. This year we have made a wonderful additional change and have created the opportunity for all the children in the communities we work in in Quang Nam to borrow books.

About each aspect of our work:
Book Delivery
When doing home visits books were taken to CEF students in Da Nang and the books were borrowed by all of the students. 

Books to Share / Boxes of Books
We started to create Boxes of Books to take to share with communities in which we work in Quang Nam enabling the whole community to have access to books. We have a box of books for each age group and these boxes of books have gone to two pagodas so far and to one home where they are available to the local children to come and borrow. Next month (August) we will be placing more Book Boxes in a community in which we work. One person in each community is responsible for lending them, making sure the children understand about caring for the books, signing them out and making sure they are returned. Adults can borrow the books, but so far few have. We suspect this is because many are illiterate.  

Borrowing Books from the CEF Office Library in Hoi An
The local tertiary students were encouraged to borrow books from the library at CEF’s office. They have done so and are enjoying having the opportunity to borrow books whenever they want. 

Staffing to Care for the Library / Books
We have two staff members sharing the ongoing responsibility for this program as we feel  it works best and is more efficient to have two of them working on this program together.   They travel to Da Nang City to a large government registered book shop so they can purchase books that are permitted by the government. They also purchase book boxes, plastic for covering the books and Ziploc bags. They prepare the books for lending by cleaning the books, covering them, inserting ‘Care of Books’ information, stamping them, and putting them into Ziploc bags, transporting them to, and collecting them from the children, as well as organizing the books and book boxes to take to communities and the delivery of them by car. 

Below are plans for 2015-2016 and photos 
Photos ~ shopping for books, covering, some books bought on a trip, and two tertiary students with books they borrowed ~


‘Literacy Education Program’ Plans for 2015-2016
If you would like to support this important program please email us at

Books to Share / Books Boxes in 4 more communities       US$920
We wish to create book boxes for 4 more communities at US$200 per community. Transport and a driver to be able to purchase the books, books boxes, plastic for covering and bags is US$120 for the 4 trips.

Borrowing Books from the CEF Office Library       US$150
We wish to Increase selection of books for our tertiary students and continue to encourage them to borrow.So far we have books suitable for children from 7-18, but haven’t started to develop a selection of books for the 19-23 age group. We anticipate the cost to be about US$150.

Staffing for our ‘Literacy Education Program’        US$700 
Staffing is needed to carry out this important work that gives the opportunity not just for gaining knowledge, but also for encouraging thinking and refection, and the personal development of those who thirst to read. We use volunteers when we can to help with the preparation the books for book covering, the book covering and preparing for sending them out as this is a time consuming process.

Big thanks to all donors who support this program,

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mai-Thi's time with CEF has come to an end

This summer Mai -Thi came over from the States to help us at CEF. We are very grateful for her gift to us as it really has helped and made a difference.

This young lady is quiet, with a gentle and peaceful presence, she is unassuming, but well-educated and knowledgeable.

She just jumped in and fulfilled any requests we passed her way and within days she felt just like one of the CEF family. She was a great help and her skills and knowledge were very much appreciated.

We are very grateful for all she contributed to CEF; the help with chores, with book shopping, covering books, helping at our 'Water Safety Day', with teaching English to both staff and our local tertiary students, helping them prepare their scripts for videos I planned to take of them, for the writing of blogs for CEF, with creating complex spreadsheets I needed, for sharing her accountancy skills and knowledge with the staff and all the other things she so willingly did for us at CEF.

We will miss her quiet presence, but it is wonderful to know we can stay on touch by email and skype and we are sure we will see her again!

The following are just a few photos from her last month with us at CEF.