Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanking all CEF Sponsors, Donors, Supporters and Volunteers

It's now the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 here in Vietnam. Children's Education Foundation has had another year of growth with many achievements and is moving forward in its development and stability. This growth is not possible without the help of many others. We have been blessed with more help this year; from donors, sponsors, advisors and new board members and volunteers. All this support has meant we have been able to help more children to go to school to receive an education.

There have been so many who have given of their time and their hearts and I thank each and every one of you. Every single person is so valuable and essential to make CEF work. The photos in this blog are just a few of you who have been so helpful this year and here I mention only a few of the many who have helped us so graciously.

No matter how hard I, Duyen, our coordinators and volunteers work, we can't help anyone without money; without funds from you the sponsors and donors. So thank you from the children, the parents and from CEF for the much needed monetary support that is crucial to each and every child, for them to have a future with choices.

Without Duyen, my assistant, I would not be able to carry out a lot of CEF's work. Some of what she does is translate, transcribe and work with the government authorities we are required to work with here in Vietnam (in Vietnamese). She works with our coordinators to keep an eye on each project and to request letters from the children and school reports. Parents and guardians are contacted directly as well to check on how the children are doing. On top of that she drives me to the local families so we can meet with them personally.

Without our country coordinators and managers our work would not be possible too. Stephen in the USA, and Graeme in Australia, assist with supporting in many ways from phone calls, to thank you notes, receipts, as well as dealing with government authorities in the States and Australia.

Our board members have given wonderful support and wise counsel and have given time when all of them have a busy schedule. Also wonderful ideas have come from our board meetings. Our advisors have advised wisely, our volunteers have volunteered with all their heart.

Most of CEF's work is done by our volunteers. They are helping in a myriad of ways, for example our board members and advisors, our coordinators and in-country managers, including myself are all volunteers. Without our volunteers we would be greatly limited. Most of them are working from their computers and phones at home in Australia and America, with six here in Vietnam.

Chu is the busiest of our volunteer coordinators; he helps with organizing school payments, children’s letters and photos. He helps organize our trips to Phuc Le to check up on all the children. Also he coordinates a lot of the work with the local Catholic priest of the community who checks on the children regularly as well as referring children; Catholic, Buddhist and children with no religion.

Other volunteer coordinators are Buddhist nuns and the local headman from Hoa Van leper community. Their help is valuable and smoothes the path for us to be able to actually meet the children officially, help the children get into school and make the payments.

Bruce and Elaine have been invaluable volunteers in helping to keep many children from the leper community in school this year as well as last year. They also are wise and have been wonderful advisors.

Miriam has helped find educational funds and sponsors. As she is a social worker and family therapist her opinions and ideas have been very helpful. Over the last few months she also has taken on unusual duties. She took care of me when I became very ill with dengue fever, then again after I had an accident and broke my leg! Her help has been invaluable!

Without the funds raised at fundraising events we wouldn't be able to help so many children. Help with these events is always appreciated. I thank those who helped me raise funds over the last year. Lynette helped with masses of chopping and making a You Tube presentation of that event and Lori helped at another event. Both these events enabled many children to continue their schooling. Lori also put on a lovely event at her and Andy's home, which enabled three more children to be sponsored. Stephen helped with shopping and also offered his spacious apartment for two of the three events making it possible to have many attend.

Our volunteers with graphic skills this year are Shanti and Emma. Emma has created a beautiful website that will be up very soon. Shanti took richly colored photos of our children in Phuc Le, their homes, gardens and even their pets. With some of these she created a beautiful CEF calendar. I have enjoyed using it and the sale of it has helped raise funds for some of these children to have desks, chairs and lamps so they can easily do their homework.

While Shanti was in Phuc Le she also assessed each family to see if their level of help needed to change. Poverty can change for the better if they inherit a business or change work to something more lucrative. Their situations can deteriorate quickly if the main bread winner is sick, injured or dies.

Our reliable yearly volunteer Mr. Brian, who lived and worked here in Vietnam for a few years, but now lives in Darwin comes over to check on our Phuc Le education project and carries out different research each time as well. On his last visit he visited all the children that had recently been referred to CEF to sponsor. We had some basic information but he did more thorough assessments and took photos of them.

Thao Co helped with two trips to Phuc Le in the last year, leaving behind her family and work to help with this project. She is a young, strong Vietnamese woman and is a good example for the girls from the farming community to see what is possible for a young Vietnamese woman; a wife, a mother, university educated, with a good job as well as good heart and love of doing charity work.

Morwenna and Mike kindly house sat for me for two months allowing me to go away for a board meeting and several fund raising events and cared for and played with my animals too.

Lien, who cleans and takes care of,the CEF office and grounds with her husband Son, has also introduced CEF to children she knows who really have needed help. One girl's mother is dying of brain cancer and the family couldn't afford to keep her in school. In another situation the mother died from a stroke when her second child was three months old, and the father could no longer afford to keep his daughter in school. In the most recent case the child's parents have both died and she is cared for now by a grandmother and aunt. Lien comes on home visits sometimes too. Once when we were doing a home visit a toy needed mending and Lien offered to mend it there and then. She house sits for me when I can't get a westerner to house sit and cares for not only the house and grounds but, the dog, cat and fish as well.

We are all interconnected; on our own we can achieve very little, but with caring support we can achieve a lot.

I am so touched that so much help has manifested over this year and I thank each of you so much for your good hearts from my heart,


Linda Burn
Founding Director
In Country Manager - Vietnam

'Helping Girls Grow to be Women with Choices'

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