Friday, June 22, 2012

Our Children's Education Foundation 2012 Beach Outing

We took many of the Quang Nam children to the beach for a summer adventure! We had a water safety talk, floating lessons, swimming lessons, games on the sand until their toes were too hot and then lunch and an outing into Hoi An, our local historic town.

It was once the largest port in South East Asia and was a major trading centre. A Chinese and a Japanese community lived on different sides of the Japanese friendship bridge. The children learnt about Hoi An and saw some of the arts and crafts of Hoi An. They left with a photo from the afternoon and a little Japanese lantern. They all had a wonderful time!

Children's Education Foundation afternoon in Hoi An - Photos by Quan

2012 Beach Outing Photos by Ian Scrivener

2012 Beach Outing Photos by Kana Koda

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brian, one of Children's Education Foundation board members is here in Vietnam

Brian, one of our Children's Education Foundation board members and also a retired accountant, is here in Vietnam. It's lovely to see him and for CEF to have his help yet again!

He met Lien one of the girls in our education program, a tiny 10 year old nun. Her mother wasn't available to look after her as her little brother has leukaemia, so Lien wandered the streets and begged. A nun took her in and cares for her and CEF supports her to be educated. 

He met our part time staff over dinner and got to see how multi-talented and delightful they are. He spent some time with Hieu looking at the books and seeing if she was able to work with the system he had set up. She was managing fine and had even added to it. 

He helped with shopping for our summer outings for the children in our education programs; for prizes and games equipment, including a very long rope for 'tug of war'. It saved me a lot of time! 

He met the Houston University team we work with on microloans and Mr Long their professor who shared their new ideas had open up the possibility for many more of our families to have microloans.

Now he is heading to the north, to Phuc Le in Thai Binh province where we have an education program. He visits the children yearly to assess, to see how they are doing with school and at home, and to see if any circumstances have changed in their family situations. We also check on their study environment, and last year  Brian found some needed lamps, desks and chairs. When I visited in September we gave these to the children who needed them.  

It will take 3 days for him to visit all the children in their homes. Brian knows them well now and looks forward to his visits.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Novice Nuns in Vietnam by Gael McKenzie

While having the good fortune to accompany Linda on home visits in Quang Nam Province, we also visited a couple of Pagodas – which in Vietnam are best described as Buddhist “places of worship”.  

Some of the girls in Linda’s CEF sponsorship program are young nuns in training and something that struck me as interesting was just how many there were! I became intrigued as to why this was the case and discussed it with Linda in depth.

She explained that there are a number of different reasons why, some being:
·       The family give the girls up due to poverty and take them to the Pagoda and ask the nuns to bring them up
·       Homeless little children are taken in by the nuns themselves
·       Homeless children get to Pagodas and ask to be cared for
·       Girls from poor families know how much their family is struggling and take themselves along to the Pagoda and ask to be cared for by the nuns for their parents sake
·       Girls sometimes (and rarely) are passionately drawn to being a nun although still a child
·       Older girls of 14 and up might fall in love and have their heart broken - so choose to become nuns
·       Girls who consider themselves very 'ugly' become nuns quite young - usually from age 14/15 on - as they realize they are shunned – and especially by males

I discovered that In each Pagoda there are different policies - some girls are just cared for on a daily basis until older when they start their Buddhist studies and practices at age 18. However, in some Pagodas, the children are expected to start their Buddhist studies and practices as soon as they enter.

We watched on as young nun Vy (11 years old) was receiving a partial head shave from one of the nuns. Only when she is 18, will her head will be shaved completely.

The young nuns-in-training we met that day were just delightful. There was a beautiful innocence and gratitude about them and yet also a worldliness somehow, which I attributed to possibly having come from a background of lack, poverty and/or homelessness. It was such a joy to observe these young girls…. playful, joyful, mischievous even … as they grow up in a caring and loving environment with the nuns and can at the same time receive an education through the wonderful sponsorship program of Children’s Education Foundation.

All these photos were taken by Gael McKenzie, to see more of her beautiful photos please see: