Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Where has the year gone?

 Thanksgivng always reminds me that it's nearly the end of the year. It also is a reminder to stop and think about the year, and although there might have been challenges, to think about all the good, all the kindness and generosity CEF has received, but also the sweet appreciation expressed by the students and their families.

This year CEF was affected by Covid in many ways, but close to everyone worldwide has been affected in some way. We received amazing support from both donors and sponsors for our families who are without incomes or on such small ones that they couldn't manage to pay the bills or eat enough. Many were eating two meals a day of just a little rice and vegetables topped with fish sauce. Here a little money goes a long way and the support over the year has been greatly appreciated by them.    

To CEF for her sponsor: Ngoc’s father wants to say thank you so much to her sponsor for his help over this difficult time. Her sponsor not only cares and helps Ngoc with her education fees but also supports the family.  He is willing to help when Ngoc’s family is in need. At the moment, dad is looking for a building job, but according to him, due to the effect of the Covid lockdown, it is very difficult to find one. It is also the rainy season now, and people don’t want to repair or build new houses. He told me that there has been a ‘Covid season’ and a ‘wet season’ this year, which he has meant he couldn’t make ends meet at all. Therefore, he expressed his deep gratitude to the sponsor and CEF for being very helpful, and thanks to that, his children have enough food every day.

Then there were all the funds for good second hand laptops, or laptops themselves, for our students in university and for some who had to study at home and had no internet cafes nearby. 

Back in the day when I got the letter of admission to be accepted into Da Nang University of Foreign Languages and Studies, my mum was thrilled, but also apprehensive about my university costs and that I had to live far from home. I did research and found myself stressed when I saw it was essential to have a laptop to study, do assignments, and prepare for presentations.

For the first few months at university, I was upset because most of my classmates bought new laptops to help them with their studies. Sometimes, I had to go to the internet shop or borrow a computer from my friend to complete my assignments. I did not find it easy because most students were busy with their research, so it was difficult for them to lend me their computers, and I completely understood that.

At this time, my mum was struggling to feed the whole family three meals a day, so how could I dare ask her for a laptop. However, I was surprised and happy to receive a used one from CEF when I was doing my military training course in November 2019. I still remember that moment and could not believe how I got a big gift like that. When I returned home to where the laptop was, it was so funny, as when I opened the laptop and looked at it, I laughed with happiness for almost a day.

Thanks to CEF, my studies became much easier and more interesting, especially for the last two years when we had to take online lectures due to COVID 19. Having a laptop, I have been able to attend all online classes and finish my tasks successfully. Learning the Japanese language is also a challenge because I lacked opportunities to practice or find sources of materials on the internet. Nonetheless, after receiving the computer, I could download many videos and practice my listening and speaking skills via online groups. As a result, I have progressed with my studies and results over the last three semesters.

I promise to keep this present carefully and use it more effectively for my studies. Again, thank you so much!

We truly have been blessed and are very grateful for all the care and support we have received. Whenever we need help you have been there for us. Thank you! 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Bikes are a treasured gift

The gift of a bike changes the lives of our CEF students for the better, whether to get them to school, or for collecting water, getting to extra tuition classes or doing the shopping for mum.

'Like the air we breathe, water is essential to our lives, but clean water is still out of reach to most in my area of Quang Nam province. Every day my mum and I took turns to walk very far from home to collect and carry two storage containers of clean water back to our home for cooking and bathing. As we did not have transport to bring more clean water home, and we couldn’t carry back enough when we walked, so we had no choice but to use dirty yellow water for our daily routine, which caused me to have skin problems. Since we got this bike, which was given to me by CEF three years ago, we have shortened our the time needed for water collecting and can carry more water containers home. It has also helped reduce spots in my face a lot because we have enough clean water to use now.

I cannot express how much I appreciate your gift. Your help has made our lives much better than before. Thank you so much!'

‘You proberly remember the bike you gave me when I was in grade 8, when my dad was still alive, and we were living in the old house. One day when I was doing my homework, my father suddenly returned home with a new bike. I was thrilled and overwhelmed and asked him where he got it from. He joked saying that he just bought it for me, but I knew that we couldn’t afford a new bike on his small budget, which was not even enough to feed the whole family three meals a day. 

When I found out that it was CEF who gave me this bike to get to school, I was super happy. Thanks to your gift of the bike, I was no longer late for school like the past, when I had my old broken bike. For the last four years, it has been my best companion, going to school, or to the market, whether it is a sunny or rainy day. I still look after it carefully, and it will continue be my best friend over the next four years of university too. 

Thank you so much for giving me such a priceless gift. It has great memories for me of my father and myself.’

‘I grew up in a poor family of three including my granny, my mother and me. My mother makes her living by farming to support our family.  We live in a simple house located at the end of a long narrow path. My childhood memories include of being so close to my mother as she carried me on her back whenever I went to or from school, even  walking through the muddy water during the raining season.  

As I got a little bit older, even though I could walk to school on my own, it was too far as I became so tired.  In addition, my friends spread a rumor that at twilight ghosts appear anywhere dark and quiet, like the pathway to my home, so no one dared to come to my house at night. It made me scared to walk home in the dark, so I had to run fast or wait for my mother to pick me up.

When I was in grade five. I was so happy to know that CEF could give me a bike. Seven years ago, it was the most valuable thing I owned. I and my family have been protecting it well. Over the past seven years I have ridden it to school, and to the teacher's house for my extra tuition classes. It helps me to shorten the time to every place I want to go. Since then it became my best friend, accompaning me all the time.

Thank you so much for giving me such a meaningful gift. My family and I appreciate this so much. I will protect it well and keep it as a meaningful memory of my life.’

‘I grew up in a family of three including my parents and myself. Sadly, my parents divorced when I was in grade four and right after that my mother had cancer and passed away after a year of treatment. My father remarried and had to take care of his new family. He paid no attention to me, so my grandparents took me home to live with them.

With my grandparents' low income from growing rice and raising livestock, they struggled to support me and my uncles of school age. In addition, they had to pay off a huge debt which they borrowed for my mother's treatment. I knew how hard it is for them. Living there, I lacked everything, except lots of their love. They always cared for me and encouraged me to study well to have a brighter future. Each year I had to attend school with used books, clothes, and even a bike that my uncles used before. It wasn’t the right size for me, but it was better to use it instead of walking along a muddy road in winter. It was broken sometimes which left me feeling very tired by the time I arrived late for classes.

When I was in grade seven, I was so happy to know that CEF could give me a new bike. It was a treat to have such a luxurious bike, and was a color I loved. I proudly rode it to school, to my teacher's home for extra tuition classes, and I was always ready to give my friends a lift if they needed one. I have been using it for almost two years now. It is still so new and in good condition as I care for it. 

Recently I entered high school, so I have to go far to get to school. Luckily my uncle gave me his used E-bike, but I still use my bike when I go somewhere near home such as to the market and to my friend's homes for group study sessions. 

Thank you so much for giving me such a good bike. It was my daily companion and I will continue to protect it, use it and keep it as a special memory of my childhood.’

‘Two years ago, I was lucky and happy to receive a nice bike from CEF. It's pink and as this is my favourite colour, I like it very much. Since receiving this bike, I can get to have to school and  many other places so easily. Walking to school from home used to take me about 30 minutes, but now it only takes me 10 minutes by bike. I also can attend extra tuition classes which are very far from my school. 

My granny, who has a small grocery shop, now can sell many different products, because I can ride to bigger stores to buy them and carry the products home for her to sell. Without a bike, I couldn’t do these things easily. 

Thank you very much for giving me this bike. I will always do my best at school to get good results, to make it worth your help.

‘I want to say thank you very much to CEF for giving me a bike when I was in grade 5. It has helped me a lot over these years, I am able to go to school by myself without bothering my parents or my older sister. There’s no need to worry about whether I will be late for school, like when my mother was taking me to my school.  

The bike has become my friend, carrying me to school, to my extra tuition classes, to my friends’ homes, as well as to the market, when my mother needs help with shopping. 

My father and I always take care of it. Although it is not as new as before, I still like it a lot.’

The precious gift of a bike for a CEF child is always appreciated. If you would like to give a bike please do contact us: 


Sunday, January 24, 2021

A big concern ~ the effect of Covid - 19 on education

Education is a right every person should have no matter what gender, age, nationality, race, ethnic origin, skin color and financial situation. Unfortunately that is not the reality still in these so called modern times. 

On International Education Day 2021 it is a big concern that further complications now exist for those who want an education but now can't receive one due to Covid-19 with it's resulting lockdowns with schools shutting down. Some schools have been shut for nearly a year despite overwhelming evidence of the impact on children. At the peak 90% of the worlds' students were affected with a third with no access to remote education. It's a serious situation. 

An estimate of 24 million more children could to be out of school this year! This is depressing as so many countries and organizationns have fought to keep children in school and get children into school. 

Already education standards have dropped, including children's ability to do basic mathematics, reading and writing. Not just their education is suffering, but their wellbeing is also at risk with the poorest and most vulnerable at greatest risk. School gives emotional stability with the care and attention given, mental stimulation, the social interation, physical activities and in many cases also food that they don't get if they are at home. If at home all the time some are more vulnerable to physical, mental and sexual abuse. In some countries they are greatly at risk of being forced into a child marriage or into child labor as they are often an unwanted burden on the family.  

Hopefully many countries will be able to do what Vietnam has been doing since schools opened and that is providing classes to fill in the gaps they were missing from being out of school or if they were unable to do online lessons. It has meant many weekends in school, but they do have the chance to catch up at least, although it has been tiring for the school and university students. 

It is thought that if children are faced with another year of school closure the effect may even be felt for generations! Closures should be a last resort as some research has shown that schools are not a place of concern when looking at the spread of the virus. Essential procedures at schools should be put in place so children do not suffer, remain safe, nourished and educated! 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Wishing everyone a fullfilling and healthy 2021

2020 has been a challenging year for many worldwide and all we can hope for is that 2021 will not see so many suffering. 

Here in Vietnam many suffered due to Covid19, not because they got ill and died, as deaths were very few and only from the second bout, but due to the results of our very strict social distancing rules and the gradual stopping of international flights, reducing tourism to just some local domestic tourism. It has meant large scale unemployment with many reinventing themselves, to find a way to bring in an income to support their families. The employment situation now is a little better with some having low incomes and domestic tourism has increased and consequently more restaurants, cafes, homestays and hotels have reopened. Sadly too late for many which shut down permantently and have been on the market for six months or more.

Tropical storms brought flooding and landslides with many in low lying lands and in the mountains losing their homes and all worldly possessions. They now are trying to start life from scratch, which is hardest on the middle aged and elderly. 

We at CEF are incredibly grateful for the wonderful support we have received to help bring relief to those suffering. We received funds to give families who needed support during a time of no income due to Covid19 and Covid lockdowns. We received flood and disaster relief funds for those in the mountains and low lying plains to help with damage to their homes or to help give temporary shelter 
and later to give towards their new permanent homes.


We are most grateful for all the care we received to help others less fortunate, when things have not been easy for many of you too. Thank you so much.

The support of partner organizations, sponsors and donors has been wonderful and without your help very little would have been possible over this year. Girls stayed in school, and we had none drop out even though things were tough for their families. Being sponsored and having Covid support during the toughest months made a world of difference. 

Thank you to all who have helped in various ways over this last year which includes my board, advisors and volunteers as well. Together we can make a big difference. Thank you.  

We all wish you a healthy, fulfilling and good 2021,


Linda Hutchinson-Burn, the CEF staff and CEF management

Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam