Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some thoughts on why poverty continues for some

Lien shared her thoughts on why poverty continues for many families. This is based on what she sees around her and what she has done to get of poverty.

She felt to get out of poverty:
1. They have to have good health
If they have poor health then they can't work hard or consistently earn a regular income
If they are poor they have to spend money on medical bills and medicine on an ongoing basis

2. If they have children they need to be healthy
If they have poor health they have ongoing medical bills and medicines to purchase
If they are unwell one parent may need to stay home and look after them often which would make the parent might lose their job or they will have a reduced income

3. They have to be willing to work hard
Laziness means they will lose jobs and also gives them a bad reputation and lack of future employment
Hard work means if you have spare time you look to see how you can earn money in it and take on another job as well

4. They need to be careful with money
Don't waste money on things that aren't needed
Preferably only have the occasional alcohol on special occasions
Although drinking is cheap, if it happens often it is no longer cheap
Heavy drinking brings about poor health and laziness
Heavy drinking brings about fights at work and unemployment

5. If in a relationship it needs to be healthy
If there are verbal fights one has less energy
If there are physical fights there are injuries

6. Patience and time is needed
As it takes many years of working hard to have saved enough to build a home and have some savings

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One of my most favourite little people in Vietnam

We are helping Ngan to receive an education, plus giving a daily food allowance as dad can't work much as the little boy is often ill as he has asthma. Ngan's sponsor has helped with food supplies, family medical bills, and provided books on infant feeding and infant care.

Ngan's little brother was three months old when their mother died. Her father is absolutely devoted to the children, which is not the norm in Vietnam. Normally within a matter of months or a year, most men in his situation would have remarried and abandoned the children or found a relative to leave them with or an orphanage to take them to. He has kind neighbors who help by lending him money to buy food and necessities when he runs out of funds and then when he can work he pays them back.

I admire him greatly for his committment to his children. I admire Ngan for taking over the domestic chores as well as continuing to maintain a very good standard at school. I adore the little chap as he is so curious and always so happy considering everything.

Monday, December 5, 2011

When it rains Binh's home leaks

One of the children in our education sponsorship program lives with an aunt as the father first left home and then the mother; she took Binh to an aunt to be cared for. The aunt earns very little and lives in a small rented home, but it leaks terribly every rainy season. She is trying to catch the water inside by hanging plastic sheeting over the leaking areas of the metal roof and then she drains the rainwater out of the plastic sheeting when it gets full and takes the collected rainwater outside.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Home visits in the rain yesterday

It's bleak traveling around in winter in the rain doing home visits. The rice hasn't been planted, the fields are muddy, the lanes are muddy. My assistant even said how ugly every thing looked. I got wet and cold and sick, they just got cold and wet.

We had the best deal yesterday really.It stopped raining every so often and so we had periods when we were moderately dry. Some of the parents were out preparing the fields in the rain. The fields need tending to even though it is a cold and wet day, as they have to plant the root vegetables to feed themselves and their pigs.

Some of the homes we visited had flooding of a meter inside a few weeks back and some of them hadn't bothered to clean the meter of mould off the outside walls, but the inside of all the homes had been scrubbed down immaculately. Some didn't flood but had many leaks, with the rain coming through holes in the roof where the metal sheeting had worn thin and some had chipped or cracked tiles. Buckets and bowls sat around collecting the rain. Some had plastic sheeting collecting the rain as it came through. Some homes were cold and damp and even the kittens had trouble finding somewhere warm. The firewood in many homes was wet and they only had a little kindling to boil water by for tea to try and stay warm.

What's it like living in a flooded home for a couple of days or in a home that leaks every time it rains, and it rains for about 60 days out of 80 in the rainy season?

I had hot running water to come home to and a hot bath, and a tumble drier to dry all my wet clothes that won't dry in the cold, wet air. I had some hot food to eat soon after returning home too. I know I am very fortunate but just felt sad and bleak in the bleak, cold, wet weather after visiting so many who are suffering even more than usual.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The cost of a coffee a day will feed a child a day

My Hang has just been diagnosed with malnutrition. Just the cost of one coffee a day from a coffee shop is enough to stop her suffering from malnutrition.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our most recent microloans are going well

Our 'micro-loans' are going well. Two are complete and we have two more that have been in place for a few months now. We are slowly trying out some small loans with families we have worked with for some years and know well, in the hope that they will gradually be less dependant on our support to educate their children. We see it as a slow and gradual process and feel it is one of the ways we can help long term.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food Parcels for New Year

New year food parcels have been promised for the five struggling mothers listed in the last blog! They will be thrilled!

In Vietnam the New Year is very special;it's a time of praying for the ancestors, paying off old debts, patching up arguments over meals, repair and repainting of homes, as well as feasting on special celebratory dishes. We have many families who can't afford the everyday basics, let alone any of the extra activities and foods of New year, and it is just a stressful time for them.

Chris is a couch-surfer and asks for donations towards charity work from his couch-surfing guests;the kitty has filled up and he is able to promise the five mothers I mentioned a new year food parcel each. This will enable them to have some special celebratory meals together. The parcel will contain many basics such as soy sauce, fish sauce, oil, dried fish and some New Year treats such as glutinous rice, special fruits and Banh Chung.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Single mums struggle to keep their children

We have many single mothers struggling to keep their children. We have several mothers who have already given away one child as they couldn't afford to feed them. Some are unemployed due to health issues and some are earning a pittance; 20 cents a day or 50 cents a day and most have no relatives near by to offer physical or financial help. It is hard to feed, clothe and house a child on so little. Most of the single mums and their children only have one set of clothes,in poor condition too.

We also have mothers who are like single mothers as their husband is dying or has had brain injury and therefore he can't contribute and is another person for the mother to care for.

Every New Year is the most stressful time for a mother. It is traditional to buy a new outfit for everyone in the family, to eat new year celebratory dishes, to repair and paint their home, as well as pay off debts. Most of the mums of the children in our education programs can't do any of that,as they are too poor. This makes Tet a very stressful and not a happy celebratory time. Straight after Tet, term 2 school fees are due.

We help relieve some stress for these mothers and help them support their child to be educated and have a future with better options than their mothers by paying all school related costs for their child. You can help too. You can help a mum and their child in a very simple way:
Cook a meal at your home for a few friends and ask each to make a donation for dinner.
Over the holiday season when you get together with friends ask each one to donate; maybe $5. It adds up and makes a BIG difference!

With your donation please send a note to let us know if you would like to help a specific mother and child, and if you would like the funds to buy clothes or food. Thank you so much for helping them.

Here are just a few of our mums who struggle to care for their children:
Y and her mum; Y has a pink t-shirt on.
Minh and mum; Minh also has a pink T-shirt. Her mother has a pale green top on.
Hang and mum; Hang has a pale colored pyjama outfit on.
Phuong and mum; Phuong has a cardigan on.
An and mum; An has a tortoise-green top on.

If you have questions please email me, Linda:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flooding in my home town - Hoi An

Every year in Quang Nam there is flooding. Some of the worst is in Hoi An where I live. Either there is a small flood or two, or a large one or two; even a small flood affects many and the large ones are very serious resulting in many deaths. This year there were heavy rains for days and serious flooding, as there was two years ago and three years ago, etc. Hoi An residents expect floods yearly and are very adaptable, but still it's a bad situation to have to accept on an annual basis.

Many streets of shops, restaurants and businesses had to shut down for several days due to not being able to access them because of the flooding. They lost very needed incomes.

Two of the families we help had to abandon their homes and move in with relatives in dry areas unaffected by the floods. Many friends were affected; one had 1 1/2 metres of water in her shop, another 1 meter in her restaurant, another had to move out of his home and live in his office. Each of them has mud to get rid of from inside now, they have damaged personal effects and equipment and have now to do repairs and repaint. I was lucky; my house and land have been built up three foot above the level of the path outside my land and only my garden flooded right to the edge of the house.

But for others it was much more serious with their flimsy homes being washed away and 100 plus people have died due to the recent flooding.

From BBC News
...Nguyen Minh Tuan, a disaster officer in Quang Nam, told the BBC Vietnamese service that the province had been hit by four days of flooding. "Quang Nam province gets hit by floods every year. Local people in this area are getting used to living with floods - they have to find a way to adapt," he said..

We who live there don't believe they should have to adapt when money could be spent to change the situation and relieve a large community from unnecessary yearly suffering and more importantly, save many lives each year.

Photos from Quan.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

USA blogspot

This is just to let Americans and Canadians know about our new blogspot that I started recently for Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam

We will have a website up in the next 4-5 weeks also:

"Investing in girls is the right thing to do"

"Investing in girls is the right thing to do.
It is also the smart thing to do."
— Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank

In many parts of the world, women are routinely beaten, raped or sold into prostitution. They are denied access to medical care and education. Sadly, only 43 per cent of girls in developing regions attend secondary school and in sub-Saharan Africa only 83 girls are enrolled in school for every 100 boys.

According to the World Bank, an extra year of school can increase a girl's future earnings by 10 to 20 per cent and girls who attend secondary school have the power to make $2000 more per year than those who only attend primary school – now multiply that by all of the out of school girls and the impact on development is enormous. is home to the G(irls)20 Summit and a movement for empowering girls and women around the world.

Founded in 2008, The Belinda Stronach Foundation (TBSF) along with over 70 partners are working with the private sector and a number of national and international organizations to encourage G8 and G20 leaders to elevate the importance of political empowerment and economic freedom for girls and women in developed and developing nations. At the Clinton Global Initiative in September of 2009, TBSF made a commitment to Promoting Development in the G8/G20 Summit Process. TBSF committed to create a platform that aims to provide greater coordination of global advocacy efforts for the 2010 G8/G20 Summits and to promote and educate the Canadian public on development issues. As an engaged Canadian charitable organization with a track record on global development issues and a strong capacity in policy management and public communications, we are working with strategic partners to champion key issues affecting girls and women and provide opportunities for the public to lend their support to their advancement worldwide.

"The health of adolescent girls is everyone's business. We all need to step up to the plate to embrace this ambitious agenda."
— Melinda Gates

"Women and girls are not the problem; they are the solution."
— Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn

"If young women had better access to farming land, fertilizers, credit and agricultural training there would be more food available for more people, and the nutritional status of children would improve. When women receive the same levels of education, experience and farm inputs as men they can increase yields of some crops by 22%."
— International Labour Organization, 2009

"Out of the world's 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls."
— UN Foundation

"Adolescent pregnancies cost Kenya's economy US $500 million per year, while investing in girls would potentially add US $3.2 billion to the economy."
— NIKE Foundation, 2009, Girl Effect

"There's a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism."
— Education Economics

"An extra year of secondary schooling has been demonstrated to increase women's future wages by 10-20 percent."
— Amazing Women Rock Website

"Female education is a key source of support for long-term economic growth. It has been linked to higher productivity; higher returns to investment; higher agricultural yields; and a more favourable demographic structure."
— Goldman Sachs, 2008

"Countries with the lowest number of girls in education lie at the bottom of the human development tables."

Information above is from

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I will be in Australia at the end of the year

I am in Australia for the second half of December and the first half of January.

If any one is interested in:
Meeting and finding out more about Children's Education Foundation
Or having a small awareness-raising meeting at your home or office
Or having a small fundraising event at your home or office
Or at your children's school

I can do a talk, a powerpoint presentation, or both, or a question and answer session.

If interested please do get in touch:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fundraising & awareness-raising event put on by Go Philanthropic

Go Philanthropic, a philanthropic travel company who have already organized sponsorships for a couple of the CEF-Vietnam children, put on a fundraising and awareness-raising event for CEF-Vietnam and for other NGO's they support. It was also the offical launch of their charity arm.

They were sweet and wanted me to be there for the event and lined it up to cooincide with my visit to the States. They had a wonderful display for CEF, as well as for the other NGO's. There was quite a crowd there who were all interested in the work of each NGO that Go supports. As they travel around the world with their clients they visit these projects. So it was very interesting to learn about the work they support in developing and third world countries.

Lydia, her team, and family put on this wonderful event in a lovely, bright loft space, in an old warehouse in Rochester, New York. Thank you for this truly wonderful support for each of us and our work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anh Thuong has a free place to study English at STEC

Anh Thuong now has a place at STEC, the local English language school, along with six other of our children. Anh Thuong is the youngest of the children we are helping by quite some years. She is very bright, sociable and already has some English because her mother speaks a little English and she has taught her what she knows.

It's wonderful to know they will have these free English classes for two years. They might even have sponsored places for longer. For example another one of our girls, Phuong, has been guaranteed free English classes at STEC for the whole of her schooling.

Hoi An's main industry is tourism. Good English is required for many jobs in Hoi An. Shop keepers, waitresses and restaurant managers, head of housekeeping, receptionists, spa workers and managers, tour guides and cooking school teachers, web designers and business managers all need good English. So this is a great advantage for the children to have this free help with their English.

Children with new educational sponsorships

Recently we had four more sponsors take on five children's educational sponsorships which is wonderful news as that is five more girls who will have a complete education and not a future like three of their mothers who are garbage collectors.

Linda and her mother are sharing the college education costs of Thuy Hang. She will be very employable after completing college. She has just started her studies in administration. Thuy Hang has no one in her family to help her through college as both her parents drowned and all her siblings are poor.

Louise is sponsoring Hang and Hong whose single mother is both a rice farmer and garbage collector. She can't make a living as a rice farmer, but with being a garbage collector as well she has managed to look after the girls. But now their education costs have escalated with the rising costs due to the stage they are at in their education, and also due to inflation in Vietnam. This is wonderful news for their mother as this will relieve some of her stress. Besides financial worries, she has very poor health, as well as having a very ill, dying mother to care for.

Lynne is sponsoring both Phuong and An. They live near each other in the mountains and one of their mother's is a garbage collector, which is hard for her as she has poor health. The other mother makes rattan chairs as she had an accident and her leg is severely damaged so she can't walk easily or do any hard work. She only makes $1 per chair: someone else clearly is making the money from her hard work.

We always have girls (and a few boys) in need of sponsors; children who need a sponsor to enable them to receive an education, so if anyone is interested in helping a child from a poor family be educated, please do get in touch!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Visit to see the Phuc Le children in our northern education program

The last few months have been very busy with home visits followed by school payment visits with our local coordinators. We have seen all of the children in all our projects except four children who were in HCM City at the time with their parents who were in desperate need of work.

The last home visits were to Phuc Le in the northern province of Thai Binh. Thao, Miriam and Chu came along to help. Thao has helped for two years and does the translating. She is very organized as well as being an excellent translator. Miriam is our volunteer social worker and family therapist and has organized quite a few sponsorships for children in Phuc Le. I wanted her to meet the community and the children who were being sponsored by her friends. I also wanted her advice and help with one family of concern in this community. Chu is our coordinator for the project and we have been working with him now for five years. Father Thao is the local priest of this parish and helps to organize all the interviews with the children and parents.

While in Phuc Le we did interviews of all the children; all of them came along with a parent or guardian, for example with a granny or granddad. We had some photos of sponsors to give the children and we took photos of the children to give sponsors. If anyone wants to send us photos to give to the children next time we see them please do.

We also gave lamps, desks and chairs to some children who needed them. Some of the homes are very dark so lamps were needed and some children have been sitting on beds or floors to do their homework so a desk was needed. Shanti designed a beautiful calendar for 2011 and the money from the sale of them has paid for these lamps, desk and chairs.

We all visited the family that we were most concerned about to try to find some solutions for their problems. We had been given lots of lovely warm socks by Trisha and Robin and gave four pairs to the children to keep their feet warm in the icy northern winters. They were amused by the idea as they had never worn socks before. We walked to the local shops to buy some new school footwear for each child as their footwear was falling apart or was too small. We organized for a devout Buddhist breakfast cook to provide breakfast each day for the children before they went to school as they were hungry because the aunt looking after them didn't have enough money to feed them three times a day.

All the children had written letters to their sponsors so we spent our evenings translating letters.

It's been a wonderful period catching up with all the children and families and now we have a couple of months of report writing to do so we can contact all our sponsors with updates, photos and letters.

Miriam our volunteer social worker and family therapist in Phuc Le

Miriam came to Phuc Le to to meet the children who have challenging situations and to offer professional advice. Photos: Miriam with the children,or on her way to meet them, in interviews, and with Tham who she found a sponsor for.