Monday, October 5, 2009

Just a few hours can change ones life dramatically

Last night I was blessed to spend a few hours in an exquisitely beautiful restaurant with lovely food and company. It was the final night of a tour I was facilitating. A few days prior to that I had to rearrange the trip so as to skip Hoi An due to typhoon Ketsana causing severe flooding and devastation there with unsafe, unsanitary conditions.

When typhoons hit other countries and communities we don't live in, and affect people we don't know, it's natural to feel for them, but there is usually no strong emotional connection. This time it was the town I live in, the communities I know, and some of the families and children Children’s Education Foundation – Vietnam works with that were affected. When a typhoon hits and when they no longer have their school, books or school uniforms they can't go to school or receive an education.

This was the worst typhoon to hit the area for several decades and no one was prepared for the degree of flooding there was. This town is used to flooding but only in a few streets of the town. This time the whole of the main town was under water as well as low lying areas around the town. Flooding took place rapidly with many lucky ones stranded on their second floor, while others had to abandon their homes and swim or wade through waist or shoulder high waters. Both basic Vietnamese and western style homes were buried under rapidly rising waters, resulting in possessions floating away or being saturated with muddy water.

What is the appropriate response in this situation when we are committed to helping very poor people? It's challenging as this is not the work C.E.F. does, so what is the appropriate response then. Because I live here I know this type of event will occur again and again; damage to homes and loss of possessions will continue. One response I had is that they are used to it and they are survivors. That response leaves me free to not respond, which is not appropriate.

In Vietnam the 'work' of each charity is registered and that is what they are obliged to do and that only. Our work is to support very poor females receive an education. But this time the only humane answer was to bend the rules and continue to bend them for as long as we need to.

Town electricity and water is on again and the clearing out of the thick mud that has settled everywhere is under way. There are putrid smells still and debris everywhere. The garbage collectors can't collect quickly enough resulting in rotting mountains of plant debris.

I will refer to two of the local families who we have been helping by paying the costs for their children to receive an education which includes school supplies, satchel, rain coats, uniforms, school fees and food. We are specifically helping these families right now as they lost many of their few possessions. The worst is over, but recovery takes time.

We have received some donations which are helping us get them back on their feet. Yesterday we provided more school books. Their school books were all at school but the school flooded badly and all books were lost. We have again provided school uniforms too. New pots and woks mean they can cook. Further donations would be appreciated to help them and others get back on their feet. See further down for banking information if you feel you can help.

* The first two photos are by Nadine Ziegeldorf

Linda Burn
Children’s Education Foundation – Vietnam
Founding Director

If you are in Australia or the US please deposit into the C.E.F. accounts. If in Hoi An call me and I can let you know what to purchase that will help bring some normality back to some of the families who were affected.

Please email me to let me know of any deposits:
Bank account:
Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam (Linda and Graeme Burn)
Commonwealth Bank
Account 10066894
BSB 062211

Bank Account
Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam
Citibank NA
Account 9953683821

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