Monday, October 5, 2020

Some Quang Nam payment day photos

On Sunday we had our term 1 payment day for our Quang Nam sponsorship students. We thought we would have to do what we did last term and that is just meet with 20 students at one time and 20 parents. Although there has been some loosening of our Covid restrictions, we still met in quite small groups, and had strict instructions to wash hands with sanitizer and to wear a mask. So we all wore masks except for photos and speeches. 

We could not help our students if it wasn't for the funds from all our wonderful donors and sponsors, all working together with us to keep our students in school and university. Thank you so much! 

A few of the 300 photos follow from the payment day of some of the groups of students from Dai Loc, Hoi An, Dien Ban and Duy Xuyen, students reading their contracts, speech giving and presenting two payments with the Dai Loc Red Cross, and one family photo of a dad with three of his four daughters. This is a super wonderful dad as he works so hard to support these girls and his wife who has serious mental health issues, so had to include this sweet photo of them.






                                                  






Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Sponsor letter

Some of our sponsors stay in touch with the students they have been helping and when in Vietnam meet up with them. It warms our hearts that there is this lovely meaningful connection. 

This is a letter from Tham's ssponsor to her, with the Vietnamese following the English:


Hello Tham

How quickly time passes.  Hard to believe that it was 12 months ago last week that we met for lunch and a lovely talk in Hanoi.  And then I got that beautiful letter from you, to which I am only now getting around to replying.  Naughty me   .  So much has happened since then.  And not just in your life and mine; the whole world has changed with the effects of the Covid virus.

I hope you and your loved ones are all well.  It seems from here that Vietnam has done a very good job in containing the virus.  I hope it is still ok in Hanoi.  Australia is going quite well compared to a lot of other places.  It helps us being just one country on a big island.  Our government has strict rules in place limiting travel in and out of the country, and even between some provinces.  This has limited the spread, after people returning home from overseas early in the pandemic brought it home with them.

Here in Darwin, in the north of Australia, where I live, our Premier closed the borders of our Province way back in February, which proved to be very wise.  We have had no local transmission at all.  We are now able to travel to some other parts of Australia and I am hoping to go and see two of my daughters, who live in other provinces, very soon.  Unfortunately international travel is not allowed and I don’t know when I will get to see all my lovely friends in Vietnam again.  I miss it so much.

You said in your letter that you were in an internship and expecting to get a permanent appointment.  I hope that all worked out for you and that you are happy in your job.  Also you were graduating in June.  Did the ceremony go ahead with the virus around?  I would have loved to be there had it been possible.  Your Mum must be so proud of what you have achieved.  And you have set a very good example for your sister, who I believe is also now studying hard and doing well. 

Thankfully my family are all well.  I have three daughters and two stepsons.  They are all now in their forties and have families of their own, which means I have six grandchildren, four boys and two girls.  The youngest is named Ivy, and she is just five years old.  Ivy has her old grandfather doing whatever she wishes.  My family jokes to me that when Ivy tells me to jump I say “yes and how high?”  We have a lot of fun together.

As a parent it has made me very happy that all five of my children did quite well at school and have gone on to have good jobs and be able to provide well for their own families.  My eldest daughter is a school teacher and the other two are both scientists, one working for the local government in the Fisheries Department and the other at a hospital in Western Australia.  My eldest stepson is a journalist and works as the media relations manager for a national football club.  The other works part time in the office of a member of the provincial government; but is kept busy caring for his wife who has physical disabilities as a result of a serious car accident about twenty years ago.  And they still have two young sons at home, so he is a very busy man.

I am attaching a page with a few photos of family and around my home in Darwin.  

Hopefully I will see you again some day.  I have told family members about you and they may come looking for you to say hello if they get to travel to Vietnam some time in the future.  I hope you have a happy and healthy life and wish you all the very best of luck.

Lời chúc tốt nhất.


Chào cháu Thắm,

Thời gian trôi qua nhanh quá. Thật khó để tin rằng đã 12 tháng trôi qua kể từ ngày ông và cháu ăn trưa và trò chuyện cùng nhau tại Hà Nội. Và sau đó ông nhận được từ cháu một lá thư rất dễ thương mà đến bây giờ ông mới có dịp hồi âm. Rất nhiều thứ đã xảy ra kể từ hôm đó. Không chỉ trong cuộc sống của cháu và ông, cả thế giới đã thay đổi dưới ảnh hưởng của đại dịch Covid. 

Ông hi vọng cháu và gia đình cháu đều khỏe. Có vẻ như Việt Nam đã và đang làm rất tốt công tác phòng chống dịch. Ông hi vọng ở Hà Nội cũng vậy. Úc vẫn đang tiến triển tốt so với nhiều nơi khác. Điều này giúp mọi người ở đây được sống trong một đất nước trên một hòn đảo lớn. Chính phủ có những qui định nghiêm ngặt nhằm hạn chế việc đi lại trong và ngoài nước, và thậm chí là giữa một số thành phố. Điều này giúp hạn chế sự lây lan, sau khi những người từ nước ngoài trở về nhà trong đại dịch và mang theo bệnh. 

Tại Darwin, phía bắc nước Úc, nơi ông đang sống, Thủ hiến của ông đã đóng cửa biên giới của thành phố vào tháng hai, điều này được cho là rất khôn ngoan vì ở đây không có bất kì ca nhiễm nào trong cộng đồng. Bây giờ mọi người ở đây có thể đi du lịch đến những vùng khác của Úc và ông đang hi vọng sẽ sớm gặp lại hai cô con gái của ông đang sống ở những thành phố khác. Rất tiếc, du lịch quốc tế chưa được phép và ông không biết đến khi nào ông mới có thể gặp lại những người bạn của ông ở Việt Nam. Ông nhớ họ rất nhiều.

Cháu có nói trong thư là cháu đã đi thực tập và mong được nhận vào làm nhân viên chính thức. Ông hi vọng những điều cháu mong trở thành sự thật và cháu hài lòng với công ciệc của mình. Lễ tốt nghiệp đại học của cháu vào tháng 6 vừa qua có được diễn ra trong tình hình dịch bệnh này không? Ông đã mong là ông đã ở đó vào ngày cháu nhận bằng tốt nghiệp. Chắc là mẹ cháu đã rất tự hào về những gì cháu đạt được. Cháu cũng đã tạo được một tấm gương tốt cho em cháu, người mà ông tin rằng đang học hành rất chăm chỉ và rất tốt.

Rất may gia đình ông vẫn khỏe. Ông có 3 con gái và 2 con trai riêng. Tất cả đều đã ngoài 40 và có gia đình riêng, nghĩa là ông có 6 đứa cháu, 4 trai và 2 gái. Đứa cháu nhỏ nhất tên là Ivy, và con bé mới được 5 tuổi. Ivy có một người ông làm tất cả những gì con bé muốn. Các con ông hay đùa với ông là nếu Ivy bảo ông nhảy thì chắc ông sẽ nói là “Vâng, nhảy cao bao nhiêu?”. Tất cả mọi người có rất nhiều niềm vui khi bên nhau.

Với tư cách là một phụ huynh, ông rất vui khi cả 5 đứa con của ông đều học khá tốt ở trường và đều có công việc tốt, có thể chu cấp tốt cho gia đình chúng. Cô con cả của ông là một giáo viên và 2 đứa còn lại đều là nhà khoa học, một đứa đang làm cho chính quyền địa phương Sở hải sản và người kia làm cho một bệnh viện ở Tây Úc. Con trai riêng lớn của ông là một nhà báo và làm giám đốc quan hệ truyền thông cho một câu lạc bộ bóng đá quốc gia. Đứa còn lại làm bán thời gian trong văn phòng của một thành viên chính quyền cấp tỉnh, nhưng vẫn bận rộn chăm sóc cho người vợ bị khuyết tật do tai nạn xe hơi nghiêm trọng xảy ra 20 năm trước. Chúng cũng có 2 đứa con trai nhỏ ở nhà, vì vậy nó là một người đàn ông rất bận rộn. 

Ông có gửi kèm hình gia đình ông và nhà của ông ở Darwin trong thư này.

Hi vọng sẽ sớm gặp lại cháu. Ông có kể cho gia đình ông nghe về cháu và tất cả mọi người đều mong chờ gặp cháu nếu đến Việt Nam. Ông hi vọng cháu có một cuộc sống vui vẻ và hạnh phúc và chúc cháu gặp nhiều may mắn.

Lời chúc tốt nhất.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Phuc Le 2010

Back in 2010 we were helping many girls in this Catholic community of Phuc Le to stay in school and complete their education. Being a Catholic community, most had large families with a high school drop out rate. Families generally considered that a girl should marry as soon as possible and bear children. This attitude was a challenge for us to deal with sometimes. One particualr family with this attitude would not allow their very bright daughter to have a university education, but wanted her helping in the family business and in the family way sooner than later.  She was distraught about this fixed opinion, but that is what happened.

All the girls in this community completed school and many did have a university education, except for two sisters who we were very fond. Mum had abandoned the family due to extreme poverty and dad's alcholism. An aunt took on the responsibility of the care of granddad and the cildren. She was an uneducated rice farmer and every day was a struggle to put food on the table. Although we paid for the girls education and contributed to food, she wanted them working to remove this daily burden.  They both finished secondary school, but then went to work. 

Sometimes with sponsorship and food support provided we can't always accomplish our CEF wishes one hundred percent. Fortunately we were able to help all the others graduate from high school at least. 

These photos are by Shanti Burn. 









 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A love for volunteering ~ Letter translation by CEF's Thuy Tran

Nga, a grade10 CEF student, shared her interesting experience of volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic in Hoi An in her letter to her sponsor: 

‘I hope this letter finds you and your family fine. Covid-19 has affected many people around the world and I hope it doesn’t affect your area too much. I also would like to say thank you very much for caring for our family and supporting us during this difficult period. 

In Hoi An, we have had a long period of quarantine because there were many positive Covid-19 cases in our local communities. All people have followed the government’s directives, staying at home to protect themselves and to prevent the pandemic continuing. During that time, The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union has had many activities to take part in on Covid-19 prevention and control efforts together with our health authorities. Being a member of the Youth Union, I am very happy and willing to volunteer when they need us. Many members wanted to join their activities, and I was so happy and proud to be chosen. After doing health checks and being trained in how to protect ourselves from Covid-19, I attended many activities since the end of July. 



I helped them in cooking for people who were staying at the quarantine sites, giving food support to communities which were contagious quarantine areas, where they strictly stopped transportation between different communities, and also stopping and checked the temperature of people travelling from one area to another to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As well as that we also checked the temperature of students when they went back to school. I also would like to send you some photos about my volunteer work.’

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Suong, a sad story, but with hope ~Guest blog by CEF's Thuy Tran


Suong’s family lives in one of the poorest remote villages in Phuoc Son district. In this village, most of the people are alcoholics and are all related to each other. Many husbands and wives are cousins. Almost everyone does farming. They plant vegetables, collect wood, honey, and wild vegetables in the forest for their family and then share with their relatives if they have too much. Suong's parents can't make any money because they are alcoholics. There is nothing in their house except for clothes and a few kitchen items which look like they haven’t been used for a long time. Because the soil is not suitable for planting rice, the Government supports them with enough rice to eat, but the alcoholics exchange it for rice wine. When they are hungry and need a meal, they go to their relatives who have food. Over the last three years Suong's parents got worse as they have been drunk every day and haven’t worked much which makes Suong and her sister not want to stay home anymore. Suong moved to live with her aunt's family while her sister went to live with granny's family in the same village.

Suong is one of five students in the village who continues their studies at high school. During the academic year, she stays at the school dorm as it takes her two and a half hours from home to school by motorbike. Most of the young people in her community just finished their secondary school education or some just primary school education. They all believe that it is expensive to go to high school and they can't afford it. Suong told them about her experience and that it doesn’t cost much money to go to high school. Sadly, no-one believes her because she has a cousin who works in construction in the lowland and sometimes gives her US$8.70 when he visits home. Suong is determined not to live at home, and continue her education, as she loves going to school and wants to be a literature teacher in the future.

(Name changed)
(Photos show the row of houses where they live and Suong)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Student stories ~ Guest blog by CEF's Kim Chi




 Doing termly home visits provides us with the current information on the children and families in CEF’s sponsorship program. By doing this, we then can look at the ways to support them better.  But, collecting all the information of the children to write their stories helps us to understand their backgrounds, how they came to CEF's family, what challenges they have overcome and how CEF education sponsorship has changed their lives. 

I’ve done seven stories of CEF’s students and each story brought me different emotions. I admired their extraordinary will to overcome every difficulty and attain many achievements in their lives and studies. On top of these, they showed they could make their futures different and break the cycle of family poverty through education.

(Photos of some of the students written about recently from when they were young, all by Brian Kuhl) 

Lan's letter to CEF telling her story of challenge and hope ~ Translated by CEF's Kim Chi


                          Lan and her mother ~ 20103 (Photo by Brian Kuhl)

Dear CEF,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. 

I am very lucky to receive your care and your support. I am the youngest child in a family with three children. When I was born, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. My father had to take out a bank loan to cover her treatment and pay for all our education expenses. Being aware of our difficult situation, three of us always tried hard to be good students. Unfortunately soon after sailing through the university entrance exams with a score of 29/30 and being accepted into the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, my brother developed mental illness. We were very shocked. My parents’ hope of breaking the poverty cycle of the family was dashed at the time as my brother was then not capable doing his university course. My mother was very upset, but she always encouraged my elder sister and me to study harder and take good care of our health. Although she was very ill, she still worked really hard on farms, putting aside her earnings each day to pay for our school expenses in the hope that we would have a good education. 

She finally left us forever on the day when my sister had her university entrance exams. I was in grade 7 at that time, so I understood that now on I had lost my mother, her love and her care. My father became the sole breadwinner as well as being responsible for the children and the house. He had an accident a few years ago when working on a building site, so he now suffers with a lot of pain due to that accident and spinal degeneration and can’t do any physically demanding work. But, he had to work far from the family as a construction laborer and send money home. My father was worried a lot when he worked far away because my brother has still on medications. He borrowed a lot of money to take my brother everywhere for assessments and treatment in the hope that his health would be more stable and he would stop annoying our neighbors. My father is getting old so his health is not good at all. Also, he has ulcerative colitis and often lacks sleep. Sometimes, he has to stop working for a while due to his poor health. My father has taken on a lot of responsibilities while he is also getting older. I am well aware of my family’s situation, so I wish I could help my father more. Although I have to deal with many challenges, I will never stop my schooling. I always try hard to be a good student. I’m now going to start a new important journey in my life which is the final exam to get into university. I want to go to university to have a good job in the future, and then I can help my family.

CEF has been helping me since I was in grade 7. This support has greatly helped to reduce the financial burden for my family. I highly appreciate and am very grateful for my sponsorship and your support so that I can go on with my education. I am now confident enough to make my dream come true.

I wish you good health, happiness and success.

Once again, thank you so much for your support.

Best regards,

Bui Thi Huong Lan


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Van Anh's story ~ Translated by CEF's Kim Chi

 My name is Van Anh and I grew up in Thai Binh province in the North of Vietnam. There are five people in my family and I am the youngest child. My father used to be an experienced builder, working on building sites. My mother has been working on farms, growing rice and vegetables. When I was 10 years old, my brother had to go to Ho Chi Minh city, to work to totally support himself. My parents had to take care of me and my sister as well as trying to keep us in school. My sister went to college and studied to become a teacher. She wanted to live near my family, so she had to work with yearly contracts. She is teaching locally on too low an income. My parents are worried about her life a lot because she also needs to take care of her own family. Although my parents were not so well, they wanted me to go to university to have a better life and break the poverty cycle of our family. 

My father has suffered from a herniated disc and spinal degeneration which has affected his ability to do construction work a lot. He had to stop working whenever he felt a lot of pain. Due to his poor health, my mother became the main person who took care of the whole family. Although we struggle with our financial burden, my family is very happy because we care for each other.

After I finished high school, my parents decided to send me to university although they were old and couldn’t make much money. They wanted me to have a better life because my brother and my sister didn’t go to university and that has made their lives hard. I also wanted to have a higher education because I wanted to broaden my knowledge, develop in a good study environment and have a variety of relationships, to be a more versatile person and be able to have a good job. After the final high school exams, I sent my application to Thai Binh Medical University, to study to become a GP. But, my scores were not enough for me to be accepted into this university. It took me a lot of time to consider my second choice and I applied to study at Hanoi Medical University and pursue studies in nutrition. I researched a lot of information about this career because it was a new one in Vietnam at the time and at this university. Luckily, I was still keen about this subject after having all the information on it and decided to pursue these studies. During my four years of university, I have never regretted my decision. I love this career as I can help many patients by giving them nutritional advice and recipes. Although my parents struggled to support my living costs while I was at university in Hanoi, they respected my decision and encouraged me to take this course. 

Last year, my father had a serious health problem because he hadn’t been checking up on his health regularly. He did nothing about it until he couldn’t put up with the pain any longer, then he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer. My family was shocked. This was a huge financial burden for my family because the treatment takes a long time and costs a lot. He had surgery but also has had to have chemotherapy treatment. My mother is the main person who farms now, growing rice and ‘au’ to sell and covers the daily expenses of the family. My father stopped working a year ago, so the finances of my family is difficult currently.

CEF started helping me when I was in grade 6. I received sponsorship each term to pay my school fees and my education expenses. I was so happy because sponsorship helped to reduce a lot of the financial burden of my parents, and that helped my parents have fewer worries. I still remember the gift, which was a box of color pencils, I got from Ms Linda. It was an expensive gift for me at that time. The sponsorship and cares I received from Ms Linda and CEF during my secondary schooling, my three years of high school, and four-year university course were all a huge motivation for me to overcome any difficulties I had and attain achievements in my life. 

Presently, I have graduated from university, majoring in nutrition and have enough elementary skills that are needed to get a job quickly. I applied for a job straight after graduation and recently got a reply from a private nutrition clinic to work for them. I am thrilled because they highly appreciated my experience from my part-time work and that I do voluntary work.  I am delighted as I can work in my field of studies. My plan at the moment is in having a job I can afford to look after myself and help my parents too. I will work and save for travelling and helping disadvantaged people to make my life happy and meaningful. I believe that if I am optimistic and try my best, I can overcome many challenges.  


Sweet letter from CEF student Trinh to her sponsor Felicity ~ Translated by CEF's Thuy Dinh

Firstly, I would like to send you a huge thank you for your sponsorship. Although I have never met you, I am sure you are a good person with a warm heart. Linda and you are my angels who give me and my family hope, help me have a chance to continue my education like other children. You always care and support my family when we need help most.

My sister and I lost our dear father when I was seven years old. My mother became the sole breadwinner to bring us up. She is not only a mother but also a father. Every day, she has to work from dawn to dusk to take care of the whole family but never complains. Now, she is over 60 years old but still works hard to give the best she can for her daughters. She only wishes my sister and I could pursue our education and be successful in the future. Thanks to understanding our situation, we always try our best to study to make our mother happy. I still remember the moment my mom burst into tears and hug me tight when I informed her that I achieved a good performance at school in the last grade.

Next year, I will be in grade 12 and know it is the most important year to make my own decision for my future. I am into chemistry and considering applying to the Da Nang University of Technology but will think and make plans carefully. 

Presently, Da Nang has a new COVID 19 outbreak in Viet Nam so we are doing the city lockdown and social distancing but luckily my mom is still allowed to go to work. Although she can only work a half-day, we are very happy because we can pay for our meals at this difficult time. I love my mother very much!

In closing, my family and I are so grateful for your help. I promise to study well to make you and my mother proud. Once again, thank you very much, and I hope you and your family take care and stay safe!


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Nun Vy's story ~ Guest bog by CEF's Kim Chi

Vy is the last nun we have been helping with an education. Sometimes pagodas have no funds for the school education of the nuns and ask for help from CEF. Sweet Vy has been sponsored for ten years and her help has now completed with her graduating from high school. Now she is moving on to study in a Buddhist College. CEF's Kim Chi shares her story.


Vy came from a very poor farming family with parents who worked so hard to bring up their three daughters. Her mother used to work in a garment factory and her father on building sites besides growing rice as well as raising ducks and chickens, but they still struggled to make ends meet. 

They followed Buddhism and Vy always accompanied them every time they went to the pagoda. The idea of living in the pagoda away from her family came up to Vy as an appealing idea, as she always felt comfortable whenever she was at the pagoda with her parents.  Therefore, Vy decided to leave her family and become a nun.  

At the time Vy moved to live in the pagoda, her parents still had to work really hard to keep her sisters in school. One of Vy’s sisters finished grade 10, and soon afterwards married and worked as a factory worker. The other sister completed high school and took a two-year nursing course. She couldn’t find a job after graduation, so married and has two children. She is now living with Vy’s parents, working in a garment factory, earning enough to take responsibility for her two children because her husband lives separately in the North. 

Vy with the head nun of her pagoda


Her father is now 54 years old and her mother 50. Her mother stopped working in the garment factory four years ago to take care of the house and look after the grandchildren so that her sister could work. 

Their finances have been better since Vy lived in the pagoda and her sisters went to work. Vy has been living in a pagoda with the head nun, who is very kind and supportive. She allowed Vy to do less chanting than is usually required of just once a day, and learn Buddhism just in the summer holidays. Therefore, Vy had more time to concentrate on her studies, have extra tuition classes and consequently was able to attain quite stable results through the years. 

Before CEF helped, the pagoda made incense to sell to cover all costs at the pagoda and Vy’s school fees, but as she got older it was hard to cover those costs and donations at the pagoda were not for education, so they asked if CEF could help to cover her education costs.

Since then CEF helped Vy so that she could continue going to school and reduce the financial burden of the head nun. We helped her from when she was in grade 3 and shortly she is going to complete high school and then she plans to take on further Buddhism studies lasting three years. After that, she wishes to learn about traditional herbal medicine to help the poor and ill.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Wood dowry ~ Guest blog by CEF's Ms Thuy Dinh

Some of the students CEF's Thuy Dinh is responsible for are from an ethnic community in a mountainous region of Phuoc Son not far from the Laos border. They have customs that we know nothing of unless they share them with us and as they do we are constantly learning from them which we love. Thuy shares this interesting story.







I am really into exploring new cultural and historical stories of the areas I visit. This is my third year working for CEF and I am responsible for working with mainly Gie Trieng ethnic minority girls in our scholarship program in mountainous areas of Phuoc Son district. I used to notice the woodpiles stacked neatly along walls of the local people’s stilt houses but I was never curious about that. Other CEF staff and I thought simply these bundles of wood were for their daily cooking, but it turned they were not for that use.
We did a survey trip in Phuoc Son district two weeks ago and I accidentally learned about the role of firewood and it’s connection to Gie Trieng marriage customs. It is really interesting to hear that on their wedding day, they may lack money or gold, but wood is a must for the brides. A local person shared that wood was the dowry, and a treasured symbol of love. In addition, he said: “It’s very cold living in the forest. We need the heat from a fire to survive. Therefore, wood is very important to us.”
Local women used to cut down the beech trees before there was the regulation of protecting the forest was established. While the wood is tough, it has a straight grain so it is not only easy to chop, but the wood also burns for a long time. When Gie Trieng women enter the age of marriage, it is time for them to take the wood from the forest. It takes them a long time and much effort. Gie Trieng women start to chop down the trees at the age of 15. Each must have 400 to 500 bundles of firewood to show off their skill and determination. The more firewood she has, the healthier and more hardworking she is considered.
Collecting the wood can take months or years. Men can tell how strong, industrious, and skilful the women are by observing how big the stacks are and how even the wood is chopped. They will make their marital decisions based on that. The presented wood is also the symbol of piety as the brides don’t only present it to the groom but also to her family-in-law on their wedding day. It is considered a valuable dowry that the groom’s family only uses on special occasions.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

A CEF high school graduate and her plans ~ Guest blog by CEF's Ms Vy



Nga with her mother and siblings


CEF's Vy talks about one of our CEF high school graduates who has done well and her future plans:

Nga just completed high school with an average of 8.1/10 and is about to take the high school graduation exam at the beginning of August. Next her wish is to take a short course in hospitality taught by an NGO in Hoi An, where she’s provided with a comprehensive no-cost 18 month training program, extensive English language training and practical hands-on experience in hospitality service. Also, she’s provided with daily living costs, accommodation and other benefits during this course. She’s looking forward to attending the interviews to see whether she’s able to obtain a place on this course. She thinks that it’s a wise decision because it may help reduce the burden for her mother, who is the sole provider in her family to look after four children of school age, one of whom has cerebral palsy.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Reflections on working with ethnic students in Phuoc Son ~ Guest blog by CEF's Thuy Dinh

Working with ethnic minority girls to help them with their education is really challenging for us. At first, communication is always difficult because they have their own language and have to learn Vietnamese at school when they are young children but this does not mean they can understand all of the Vietnamese vocabulary, so we have to use basic words to talk with them and exchange information. Sadly in some cases we are unable to help them because we cannot communicate with them sufficiently or because they are hesitant to talk with us.


Secondly, helping them with careers advice is also another challenge because there are not many job opportunities for them after high school graduation to match their abilities. To be honest, I have become more patient since I started working with them. I learned not to always expect too much from them or for them to have good school results. Over the two years that I have been working on this project, I can see the progress they have made, although it’s sometimes slow. I smile to myself as it makes me happy to see this progress.


Previously, the majority of the young ethnic generation dropped out of school before completing high school due to poverty, pregnancy, or child marriage, then did farming like their parents. This kept the poverty cycle going, but now it is gradually changing. So far this year, most CEF scholarship students want to take a vocational training course to be a tailor, a hairdresser, a baker, a bartender, a waitress or work in a factory to earn money and support their family. I think at least they have started to change their mind about what is possible and dream of a brighter future.


(Staff photos)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Hoi An and some of our CEF students

Hoi An is an old trading town, and once the largest port in South East Asia, but that was a long time ago. It has been a popular tourist town for the last twenty years. Our NGO is based on the outskirts and some of our CEF students reside on the outskirts too.

It looks like an affluent town with it's lovely homes, it's tempting shops and restaurants, but there still is a lot of poverty here.


I share here a few summaries of situations of a few of the local children. Tien's parents and grandparents have all died. Her sister who is a young mother with a very low income is responsible for her. She can just about feed Tien, but needs help with that and needs us to cover Tien's education costs. 

One family we help has three young children who mum is trying to support on her own as dad died fairly recently. Mum is creative and finds ways to earn small amounts, but with reduced domestic tourism her income is way down. CEF helps with education and food costs.


Another sweet child in our sponsorship program is an orphan cared for by her grandparents and her extended family. One of her aunts who is dying from cancer is under granny and grandad's care too. The main person earning is granddad who is a fisherman. He says that the area has been overfished and they have to go further out to see to find fish. So his income from fishing is down.


Linh is a young girl living with granny. Dad has vanished and doesn't care and mum has died. Granny has no income except help she receives from a son depending on how much he earns. Another is an orphan who is cared for by granny and aunty. Neither have an income except from any family who can contribute. Both these girls have sponsorships. 

One student's brother was a gambler and gambled so much mum had to sell the family home. Fortunately they had a little left, and could get a loan to buy a tiny piece of land and build a small home in an abjacent district, but now they have no friends there, a large debt which they can't pay off, and it takes her 45 minutes to get to school now.  As she has lessons at night after school has finished she has to stay in town and eat at a friends home as her's is too far to come and go from in the day.


Another girl in the sponsorship program has parents but mum is dying of cancer and so the only income is from rice they sell and dad giving tourists rides on their buffalo, but with no tourists there is not income besides from the rice.


Their situations sound depressing and they are very challening ones. But they smile effortlessly when we see them, they are able to laugh and joke besides sharing their challenges. It rarely is depressing as they all have hope and they all have help and care from CEF to keep their daughters and granddaughters in school.   

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A past CEF sponsorship student gets married ~ Guest blog by CEF's staff Ngoc Do


Ngoc Do who was responsible for Van over two of the six years she was in CEF's sponsorship program shares this good news.

Van, one of CEF’s past students sent me a sweet message to inform us about her wedding day. 

‘On June 26, I am getting married. I won’t do a big celebration so I am sorry that I cannot invite you, Ms. Linda and CEF staff to attend my wedding party. I am writing to you to let you know about this great news.

On this occasion, I would sincerely send my big thanks to Ms. Linda, my sponsor, Mrs. Morwenna and CEF staff for helping and caring for me over my most difficult years. I hope Ms Linda will stay healthy and happy to help many more disadvantaged children.’


She was one of my favorite children because she tried very hard to stay positive and overcome many obstacles in her life. Congratulations Van! I wish her all the best.