Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Guest Blog by Beverley Short about Ngoc Do



Along with Kim Chi, Ngoc Do is one of the founder staff members of CEF Vietnam, working with Linda Burn, the founder, for nearly 6 years. Not only did she find her future career with CEF, she also found love, and Ngoc is married to a former CEF staff member with whom she has a 6 month old baby boy.

All the women who work for CEF have 6 months maternity leave but are never replaced during that time.  Each of the 5 other women share that person’s workload as they do whenever anyone is sick, has exams, or needs to be away from work for any period of time.  I experienced a very happy work atmosphere with young women who are close, and are kind and supportive of one another.

Ngoc was studying English Language full time at University when she applied for a volunteer position with CEF which, she believed, would help improve her English for her desired career as a Tour Guide. Unbeknownst to Ngoc, Linda saw her as a potential employee and offered her a part-time paid position within the organisation.  Although she knew that this would have an impact on her study, she took the position and went on to successfully complete her degree whilst working part-time - supported by her co-workers during exam time, and motivated by the inspiring work of the organisation. 

Although Ngoc comes from a poor family, she grew up with supportive parents and, along with her brother and sister, was encouraged to complete High School and go on to University. Her father completed High School and went on to College, but her mother, although a gifted student, was forced to leave school at an early age which led to hardship.  She didn’t want the same life for her children so she and her husband funded them, and encouraged them to educate themselves.

As well as admin and accounts work, Ngoc covers sponsorships in Dien Ban district around 30 km from Hoi An and mentors 11 students and works on several support programs.


In her own words: “My favourite part of this job is visiting the children.  I love to get close to them so that they can share what they need with us so we can help them. I also always love the Water Safety Day.  The children work hard all year and many of them live in remote, mountainous areas and they haven’t had the chance to see the beach or come to Hoi An. I also like the soft skills workshops where we have taught things such as time management, communication skills and how to interview well.  These things are so important.”

Monday, July 1, 2019

Guest Blog by Beverley Short about Kim Chi


Kim Chi is 30 years old from the Duy Xuyen district, roughly a 15 minute drive south of Hoi An.  One of 6 children raised by a single mother, she grew up, and still lives, there so knows first-hand the struggles that children face in this underprivileged area.  Now married with 2 daughters of her own, Kim Chi has spent the last 6 years as a CEF Vietnam staff member.  In fact, she was one of the original 2 staff members that Linda Burn, founder of the organisation, hired.  Her background has had a profound effect on how she now lives her life, and the career she has chosen to help poor and disadvantaged girls continue their education.

Kim Chi’s siblings were like many of the children in Duy Xuyen in that they left school at around the age of 7 years old but, due to her academic ability, Kim Chi was encouraged by her mother to stay on. Education isn’t completely free in Vietnam and parents must contribute to their children’s schooling.  When these parents rely on low paid manual farm work and selling produce such as vegetables, it can be very difficult to keep their children in school – therefore putting pressure on the children to leave school and raise an income to help support the family.

When Kim Chi was around 14 years old, her mother was unable to work and could not continue to fund her education but Kim Chi’s drive to go to university so she could improve not only her own life but that of her mother, prompted her to talk to her Uncle who knew of an NGO-run children’s home where she could apply to be housed, fed and funded to continue her education at the local High School.

Initially, as the new girl, it wasn’t a happy experience for her, but she realised that the young girls were being bullied by the boys and stepped in to be their protector. She became their ‘big sister’ and supported them through their time there – a role she still embodies as mentor to the 37 girls under her wing in the CEF programs.

At University, Kim Chi was mentored and was able to share her struggles with someone who supported and guided her through tough times.  Every month, her own students check in with her to share their experiences and Kim Chi is there to listen, guide and help in any way she can in order for the girls to overcome their difficulties and ensure they are strong enough to continue with their studies and push to do well. Once again, she is the protective ‘big sister’.

She always knew that she wanted to work for an NGO.  From her own experiences growing up in an underprivileged background, being supported by an NGO to continue her education at High School and then on through University, she knew she wanted to give back and change things – hence her focus and drive for all the girls in her care through CEF.

In Kim Chi’s own words: “I want to give back to someone else to help them with their education. While I work with CEF, I always think that I am lucky.”





Monday, February 11, 2019

The first term two update ~ Guest blog by CEF's Ms Ngoc Huynh

On my first day of work since the Tet holiday, we did a term two update with a university student – T.
She was lovely and willing to talk to us about her studies last term. All the courses will be more difficult in term two so she will be making a greater effort to attain good results. In order to support her studies and lifelong journey, CEF has given her a laptop as a small gift. 
We wish T a New Year full of happiness, success and health.



Friday, February 8, 2019

The year of the Pig is here


We are now in the year of the Pig, and Tet, the Vietnamese New Year is over. 
Changes this term - we won't have Ngoc at work as she just had her first baby recently and Vy is going to be back at work at her baby is six months old now. 
Change is always exciting and we look forward to this new year, this new term and what it brings.






(Photos - Quan and Ngoc with their baby, their baby, Vy with her baby, Vy and her husband with their baby and some of the CEF staff at a CEF Tet coffee gathering)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

University Education Fund

Ever wonder what you can do to support Children's Education Foundation?





University is the dream of most of our students, but possibly only about 50% will be successful at getting into university. For those who are successful the challenge is how to cover the costs of  their university education.

At present we have 31 students in university, studying a variety of subjects, such as medicine, law, accounting, nutrition, food manufacturing and technology, IT, chain supply management, teacher training and foreign languages (English, Korean, Japanese and Chinese).

University costs vary depending on the subject, the area they are studying in and the city. For example the costs to study in Tam Ky in Quang Nam province are low and the university costs are low too, but the costs of studying in Ho Chi Minh City are high for both studies and living. To study medicine or architecture, the costs are high, to study teacher training the costs are low. 

Another factor is can they get part time work to help with their costs. In some cities it is easy, such as in Da Nang, Tam Ky, Ha Noi and in Ho Chi Minh City. But when our students study in Hue they have a challenge finding work as it is a small city, but also because our students from Quang Nam who study there, have a different accent.

Students can apply for student loans in term two if they aren't an orphan, but a parent has to sign the paperwork and although it is the student's loan, some parents refuse to do this, denying their child a university education.

Basically for a poor student, going to university remains but a dream for many.

The CEF University Education Fund was created to help students dreams come true. When their sponsor from high school can't afford their university education costs, because of this fund, CEF can step in if they are in need of help.

So that more students can be helped, this fund offers the student 25% as a loan, to start paying back once they are earning.  75% of their short fall for their university education is a gift.
 
All our university students also receive mentoring and attend workshops that provide information they are in need of, such as on female health care, family planning,  budgeting and human trafficking. We also provide good second hand computers to our university students.

We hope that you will be interested in supporting this important fund that enables our students to be better educated and have a future with more opportunities.

Please get in touch with us: c.e.f.vietnam@gmail.com
 
(Photos are of some of our university students who come to CEF for biannual updates)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

About being a mother of two and working full time ~ Guest blog by CEF's Ms Kim Chi

Photo of the CEF extended family with Kim Chi with her husband 
holding Miu, and Ngoc holding Nam 

CEF's Ms Kim Chi shares about being a mother of two young children and working full time:

Being a working mother of two young girls makes my life super busy and challenging, but also happy and a lot of fun. Sometimes due to so much happening I am under stress, for example when my girls were ill and I was off recently, as I had a lot of deadlines at work. But I am lucky that my husband helps at home, and my boss understands my situation.
Life challenges me, but also gives me opportunities, such as a great job which I like, and each day working with the staff, who are good people.



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A CEF student tells her sponsor how to make rice papers


Photo of rice papers drying in the sun
One of our grade 8 CEF students wrote to her sponsor sharing about how to make rice papers:
One of my favorite things is spending time with my mother making rice papers. It is hard work and hot because we have to work at high temperatures. Here is how we make Vietnamese rice papers.
Rice grinding: Soaked raw rice is ground with water into a slurry using this very simple machine. The trough at the bottom of the bucket is made of stone. The grinding mechanism, which we obtained just a few years ago, spins very quickly, so much so that the walls are splattered with the rice and water mixture.
Tangy addition: Nearby, there is a bit of thick old batter that is added to the slurry for a wonderful tang.
Making thin rice sheets: We sit on a low stool and spread the batter onto a cloth that's stretched over a wide pot of boiling water. After the batter has been thinly spread, a bamboo lid covers the rice sheet. The resulting rice sheet is steamed for about 30 to 45 seconds.
Removing cooked the rice sheet: We use a long narrow stick to lift and transfer the cooked rice sheet to a cooling rack, which spins around.
Transferring to a drying rack: My mother then picks up the cooled rice crepe and places it on a bamboo drying rack.
Drying the rice paper: To dry the cooked rice sheets, the racks are brought outside and placed under the hot sun for a day. Once dried, the finished rice papers are stacked up and then tied into smaller stacks and taken to market.
Thanks to helping my mother, I have come to see how hard she works, which drives me to study harder every day.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Short Video on CEF

Big thanks to John and Serena from www.websitealchemy.com we have a lovely short film on CEF and on two CEF girls and their mothers. 

Short video on CEF

And here are a few photos from the filming sessions.






Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Six CEF staff now!

How quickly this seemed to have happened that we went from having one part time staff, to three part timers ........ to six full time staff!! In 2012 we took on our first part time staff member, now we have six full time staff!


I feel very blessed this has been possible. This gradual increase in staff has also meant we have been able to gradually grow.

Growth for us has meant growing the number of girls we have been able to help to receive an education in our sponsorship program, but it has also meant an increase in the care and support we can give them.

We have about 250 students in school at present, most in our sponsorship program and some in the scholarship program. We will probably take on 5 new students in term 2 in our sponsorship program and 20 in our scholarship program. That is gradual growth for us.


The support we could provide when there was only one part time staff member and myself, was minimal. As the staffing grew we could provide more support and more care. We started with a Water Safety Day when we had three part time staff. Now we have added a scholarship program to the Water Safety Day, plus Life Skills Workshops, Girls to Women Workshops, Tet Food Parcels, Clothing support, medical support, food support, bikes for the students to get to school, literacy encouragement,  mentoring and the occasional microloan.

Staffing is crucial to be able to carry out our education work and support our students and families. But the funding for staffing and for the programs is also crucial, otherwise there is no support, no care, and no education for the students.


Thank you so much to all who help us with our work in so many different ways - from sharing posts to get funding for programs, finding sponsors, raising money, and for donating for staffing and equipment, taking on sponsorships and scholarships, selling chocolates, putting out brochures at work, being on the board, being an adviser, or being a partner for CEF.

Thank you!!! 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mentoring training

This week all of us at CEF had mentoring training with staff, Skye and Giang, from Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, an amazing organization based in Ha Noi that has both a sponsorship program and an Anti Human Trafficking Program. They have many years of experience of mentoring children and families with very difficult situations. They work with many street children, both children who have been sent to work in the cities, and end up working on the streets, or they have run away and are working on the streets. Many are abused and used. What they do for these children is amazing.

So when I wanted us all to learn more mentoring skills I thought of them and all of their experience.

The sessions with Skye and Giang, were filled with compassion, were so practical and down to earth, so useful, as well as thought-provoking. Now the CEF staff and I feel very inspired, and will be meeting and thinking about what to update on our interview and home visit questionnaires and how to rephrase some of our questions, so we can find out more about our families and their needs and can therefore support them more in the ways they need.