Sunday, September 20, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
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’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.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
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.
Lan and her mother ~ 20103 (Photo by Brian Kuhl)
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.
Bui Thi Huong Lan
Thursday, August 20, 2020
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.
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
Sunday, August 2, 2020
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Thursday, July 23, 2020
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.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
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.
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
‘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.
One of our university students has done her final dissertation to graduate from university. In the final thank you letter which she wrote to her sponsor, she would like to share her feelings from that day which was a very important and special day for her.
“Last Monday, I finished the final exams of term two and ended my four-year university course with a final dissertation. I had to present the final dissertation in front of many lecturers of my faculty. One day before, I had to prepare my presentation on PowerPoint, prepare my uniform, and drink and fruit for the lecturers. I wore Ao Dai which is our traditional custom when presenting a dissertation.
Although I did prepare it very well, I was nervous and couldn’t talk fluently. When I finished my presentation, the lecturers questioned and I answered most of their questions very well and naturally, and that made me became more confident. I was thrilled because the lecturers assessed my presentation at a high level. They also made some comments and suggestions which helped me to recognize my mistakes and improve the next time. It was a good result for my effort and I was very pleased about my presentation. I was even more delighted when I got a score of 9.4/10 for my dissertation.
It was the best memory of my student time. Doing the final dissertation was not only a novel experience but also a remarkable moment during my time at university. I gained a lot of experiences and made some good relationships which are related to my work of the future.”