Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview with Miriam

The following is an interview with Miriam who is a CEF volunteer in Vietnam. Miriam is going to be in Australia in June and will be helping to find sponsors for some children still in need of educational sponsorships and will be raising funds for CEF as well.

Linda:"Miriam, I first met you in Hanoi about seven years now when you were about to leave at the end of one of your many trips to Vietnam. I know you have been here twice since then and each of those times for a considerable period of time. What is it about Vietnam that draws you back again and again?"

Miriam: "I originally came here on holiday and saw the orphanage in Hoi An and couldn't stop thinking about the disabled children on their beds with nothing to do and no loving care. That is how it started."

Linda:"Why do you think you are drawn to helping Vietnamese have a better life?"

Miriam:"I'm not really sure why. The longer I am here the more I see a need not only for assistance but also compassion. It sometimes feels as though the history of oppression here has meant that for many it is about survival at all costs and it seems to me that the spiritual aspect of life has suffered greatly and needs time to repair. During this process it seems that the poor, disabled, sick or those without family have no where to turn."

Linda: "You are very supportive of the work CEF does of giving assistance to girls from poor families so that they may receive an education. Does education for impoverished females particularly mean something to you and why?"

Miriam: "As in most Asian countries boys are always put ahead of girls, and although I don't see it as my role to interfere with the culture here I believe, and it has been shown that by educating girls, they then return that help to improving the standard of living and ultimately being able to work and then to send their own children to school."

Linda: "It has been most fortunate to have your support in a variety of ways recently and shortly you will be doing presentations and telling stories about Vietnam in Victoria, Australia. What do you think are the most important things to share with others so they understand how hard it is for the poor to give their children an education?"

Miriam: "I think that it is very hard for many people to understand the level of poverty here in Vietnam. Most of us in the west do not even understand how fortunate we are to have the lives that we have, the freedom and the opportunities to direct our own lives. I think that by sharing the stories of some of the children and showing photo's that may help. Every picture is worth a thousand words as they say."

Linda: "How will you explain why we have a bias to helping girls receive an education?"

Miriam: "There is a lot of proof that helping girls to receive an education is useful as they tend to put their earning back into their family or their village and often form collectives. The other reason is related to human trafficking. Girls with more confidence and education are safer from this. Perhaps families with educated girls will appreciate them more and see their potential and some might be saved from being sold."

Linda: "Having lived here for some time I am sure you clearly see the advantages of a female having a full education. Could you just share a couple of the benefits you see the educated females have over the uneducated."

Miriam: "I have met many young women in Viet Nam, some educated and some not. I am generalizing a little here, but the educated have more confidence and are able to speak for themselves. They can obtain work and become more independent. Women in abusive relationships, (which there are no laws against in Viet Nam) can sometimes leave those situations if they are able to support themselves. Many uneducated females are forced into working in what we would call sweat shops. They do not feel safe, they are at the lowest end of the social scale in Viet Nam, and are often treated with contempt. The girls that I meet through my work with CEF are beginning to blossom, they are proud of their accomplishments, they hold hope for the future of their families."

Linda: "Thanks so much for answering these questions and I hope in you doing this interview many will understand the work you support in Vietnam.

I am thrilled you are going to meet with friends and their friends and talk about CEF and our work. I hope you will enjoy your trip back to Australia and these opportunities to find educational support for Vietnamese children, especially sponsors or donors."

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