Wednesday, July 24, 2019

CEF students' summer holiday and Water Safety Day

Our students are thrilled when summer arrives and they can have some time to relax after very full days of studies at school, of both their daily classes and compulsory extra tuition sessions. On top of that they have private extra tuition after school hours. 

The summer break most have is very short before they start taking summer classes. If they don't take these they will be behind the other students when the school year starts, so the system demands that they take these sessions.

It must be hard for them to have so little relaxation time. I recall endless summers at the beach, playing with friends, having many outings and doing outdoor activities, and taking part in swimming and tennis competitions. They are all the blessing of not having a challenging life of poverty, like our students.

For many of our students the highlight of their summer is our Water Safety Day that we run soon after school breaks up. 

Having a water safety theory session

On this day we gather the older (grade 5 and over) CEF children from all over Quang Nam province to take part in this important life-saving day. We start with Water Safety Theory, then they play games in the water and on the beach.  

 Games on the beach and in the water

Games on the beach and in the water

Some of the students and volunteers playing tug of war 

Then they learn floating and swimming. If they have learned to float for a good period of time at a prior Water Safety Day, then they move onto swimming lessons.

 Swimming lessons

Swimming lessons

Learning to float

At the end of the day we take them to the cinema to have the treat of a movie, usually both an educational and humorous one. 

This is a very special day, especially for the new students who have never been to the beach, or some of older ones whose parents have not permitted them to come along so far. And from our perspective a very important one as it has the potential to save lives.

This important day would not  have been possible without the support of many, our staff, volunteers, life savers and swimming teachers, and Le Belhamys' generous reductions making the day possible, and use of their beautiful space and beach. Funding of this day was from Go Philanthropic and we are most grateful for this very important support.   

Monday, July 15, 2019

Interviews and updates of ethnic students in the mountains of Phuoc Son

In June each year we do a research trip in Phuoc Son District to interview new ethnic students at their homes, if possible, but some live in much more isolated mountainous communities that we can't easily visit, in which case we interview them at their high school. 
As all the students are poor, we never know if their situations are worse than they make out. They all are so accepting of their poverty and their humble abodes. We often discover that their situations are much worse than we have been told, and that we discover when we visit their homes. 
We help students from this area to keep them in school, so they are educated and can earn a decent living. But also being in school reduce their risks of being trafficked and abused and will delay their marriage. In many of these communities marriage takes place before the legal age in Vietnam and as this is what they parents and grandparents did, it is not questioned.  
It's always a very humbling trip.

Home of one of our new students

Home of another new student

Home of another new student this year

Friday, July 5, 2019

CEF's Guest Blogger and Friend ~ Bev Short

Bev Short is a UK-born New Zealand citizen who has been working and travelling in Cambodia and Vietnam since February 2019. 

Bev is an award winning art photographer who has exhibited nationally and internationally, culminating in her solo exhibition "All Woman - A Modern Portrait of New Zealand Women" which exhibited at the NZ Portrait Gallery in 2012 for 3 months and went on to tour the country for the next 2 years. 

Bev's life has always been a mission to improve the lives of women so, when she left photography behind, she turned to the world of health and coached many midlife women back to well-being and happiness. 
Divorced with 2 adult daughters, she will return to NZ in July 2019.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Interview of CEF's Ms. Ngoc Huynh ~ Guest Blog by Beverly Short

With her cropped hair and unique style, Ngoc Huynh isn’t your average young Vietnamese woman.  24 years old and originally from Saigon, Ngoc has been a volunteer with CEF Vietnam in Hoi An for over 7 months.  She is an English Language graduate and has always aspired to a career combining education with social work. At some point down the track she intends to continue her studies with Education Management. 

Although she comes from a comfortable background, since an early age she has recognised the connection between education and breaking the poverty cycle, which has spurred her to seek voluntary work within an NGO.  Whilst most Vietnamese leave Hoi An to seek work in Saigon, Ngoc has done the opposite – drawn by the tranquillity of the town and the fact that she can cycle everywhere.

Like others who are drawn to NGO work, Ngoc has experienced much personal satisfaction and happiness from the volunteer work she has done in the past, and continues to do, knowing that she is making a difference in other people’s lives. In particular, she takes pleasure in teaching the girls basic hygiene, and skills in how to protect themselves, through her mentoring and the CEF workshops.

She explained to me that to break the vicious poverty cycle it was necessary for children to complete their education. Parents will ask their children to begin work straight from High School, or to not even finish High School, in order to bring money into the family.  That the parents only think short term: bring in money, and not long term: education, which ultimately leads to improved prospects and a better income.

Ngoc supports 40 girls through CEF.  Her strong family background has shown her the importance of love and support through the family but she realises that not all people have been as lucky as she has.  She visits the sponsored girls twice per year to see firsthand how things are for her students in remote areas where the standard of work is lower than in the city due not to a lack of hard work, but to a shortage of technological resources, finances, and local government or family support.  Many students in the city are able to afford extra curricular tuition to raise their grades which, unfortunately, in remote areas is an inaccessible luxury.

Ngoc offers her own support every week by phone and email but also encourages the girls to group together and support each other with study groups, to ask their older siblings for assistance, and to make a request to CEF for the supplies they may need to raise their grades.

In Ngoc’s own words: “I want to continue in this work because I want women to be able to live independently.  In remote areas they always depend on their husbands. They don’t have enough education so they only do housework or manual work with a very low income. Because they depend on their husbands they don’t have a voice in the family.  I want to change this little by little.  Women have such a great responsibility.  They take care of their children, they do housework, they work, they do almost everything but they cannot decide anything.  They have no voice.”