Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Danang Children Education Support Program

On Sunday I was really pleased we had hung in there to help some children from an isolated community. 13 children are now able to be in school; 12 in Danang and 1 in Dai Loc. It isn't just they are in school, they are in school due to us being able to find ways to remove the blockages that stopped secondary and high school being a feasibility; a simpe but expensive solution of providing uniforms, school books and supplies, accommodation and food.

It hasn't been a straight forward process, due to the dishonesty that can come with severe poverty. After a total of 4 interviews, including a visit to their homes in the community and their new homes on the mainland, we were able to determine how much financial support was essential for each child to be in school and to check that they had met our requirements.

Many questions came up in the process of trying to help this community. Why do we want to help them, who do we believe, how do we assess their poverty, why do they insist on lying, have we assessed accurately? Working in this field I am constantly challenged and wonder often if I have made the right decision. This was a new situation for us, a community that had been in isolation for a long time due to leprosy. These children and their families suffer from prejudice from their government and their society resulting in the parents and grandparents having to live in isolation. Although where they live is beautiful, their lives are challenging as it's isolated, hot, they just have a primary school, community hall, no shops or services.

Our hardest requirements to meet were that their children had to be looked after by family and in a safe envoronment on the mainland. Sounds logical, but some parents had planned on their children staying in boarding houses without a parent or relative to care for them although some of them are only 12 years old. Now the parents have committed to amazing care and have had to, and continue to jump hoops to make it possible. They deserve help and support as far as I am concerned. A couple of the mothers just go home to the community home for a few hours a day to feed the remaining family back there that are under the care of their father. They do domestic chores, collect sticks for the cooking fire, then return to Danang to cook and care for their child there. They sleep the night with them, then leave in the early morning to get home in time to cook breakfast at the other family home.

Due to the dishonesty we had to create contracts which they all accepted. They expressed gratitude and one lady who received the least, cried in gratitude. I feel happy that these bright children have a chance of a full education, a chance to have a different life to those of their parents and grandparents, one free of leprosy and hopefully, eventually free of prejudice.

No comments:

Post a Comment