Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's an orphan?

A child in an orphanage is not necessarily an orphan, if we mean an orphan is someone without parents.

In most orphanages in Vietnam that I have been to or heard about the majority of the children have parents.

Most of the children have parents who are poor and they can't care for them well, or their parents are alcoholics and won't want to care for them, or they have too many children and can't afford their care.

There are orphanages throughout Vietnam that are truely caring places for children and they are better in the orphanage than at home. Unfortunately that is not the majority. Many have become thriving businesses, for the management at least, with children not receiving any of the financial benefit or the wonderful gifts of toys and games.

Children's Education Foundation does what we can to keep orphaned children with any remaining family, whether an aunt, uncle, or grandparents. This keeps them part of their family still, part of their community and allows them to continue school with their friends.

(These three girls do not have living parents, but do having aunts, uncles and grandparents to help care for them)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some stuffed toys were given to CEF for the children

A few stuffed toys were given to CEF for the children so we gave them out yesterday when we did home visits. The children were thrilled to be given toys!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our trip to see the children in our programs in the mountains

Some of the children we help only live 10-20 minutes from the office, but they are the minority. Most are 45 minutes away, but we also have some that are 2-2 1/2 hours away.

They live in visually beautiful environments, but employment possibilities are few and far between; so they struggle to make ends meet with their income from farming. Meeting the education costs of their children on a farming income and when there is only one parent to do the work is hard, and that is what their situation is. Some educational support for those families makes all the difference.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Helping with the 'Mobile Library'

The 'mobile library' is growing.

I became the temporary librarian on five days of family visits recently and it was fascinating. Many children knew exactly what they were interested in reading, some took a long time to even open a book and one or two were clear they didn’t want to take one away.

Those who are first-time borrowers have a set of borrowers’ rules to read before they take a book. Here’s Linda showing them to Dung, a young novice monk.

We put the books into strong ziploc bags to keep them clean and dry.

One of CEFs assistants, Ngoc, looks after the loans and returns recording them on a spreadsheet.

At the moment we can’t take books to children as often as we’d like. We’re planning on increasing visits of the 'mobile library' once CEF has the funds for many more books and a vehicle, but we already have funds for someone to do this great job.

Weekends are the only time the 'mobile library' can work for now as the children are at home mainly on weekends. As they are spread out over a very large area it takes a long to time to see all the children in Quang Nam; about 10 days.

It’s such a great idea to give these young people the chance to read books for pleasure. To enjoy themselves without having to try to remember what they’ve read for an exam. To just read.

Some children write a little note to say what they liked about the book and we leave these in the bag for the next child to read.

So many thanks to those who have given us money to buy books. It’s making a difference.

Graeme CEF Manager Australia

Monday, January 7, 2013

Three girls will receive an education for three years!

Hoi An Charity Bazaar brought in funds that will help three girls receive an education for three years. The funds initially were thought to only go far enough to help two girls. But as these girls have low educational costs due to living in an isolated environment, without access to extra tuition, as well as coming from very poor families, with reduced fees,it now means we can help three girls!

Thank you to all who supported the Hoi An Christmas Charity Bazaar allowing us to help these three girls receive an education.

New year food parcels for the poorest in our programs

Tet is coming soon and we will be giving food parcels to the poorest of the families in our education programs.

A gift of some basic foods and some treats at this special time of year for the families means a lot. Tet is Vietnamese New Year, the end of winter, and the start of spring and a new year.

They believe each year should start fresh with new clothes, no debts and gift of meals and food for friends and the extended family, but the poor families can't manage to do this, let alone eat well on a daily basis.

We would like to help them. If you feel you can contribute to this New Year gift for them please go to this link.


With huge thanks,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas in Vietnam by Graeme

I stayed in Central Viet Nam for a couple of weeks recently and went on several visits to the families of children CEF supports in the countryside of Quang Nam province and up into the hills towards the border with Laos. It’s delightful. Terraced rice fields, lush vegetation and hospitable people. But not a lot of work;which is why Diem’s family moved to Hoi An. Their move was made possible because mum’s granny was living in Hoi An. So they moved in with her until a small house just down the street became available, which is where we met them just before Christmas.

It was raining when we arrived and were warmly welcomed by the whole family. Liverpool Rotary, Sydney sponsors Diem and Rotarian Ted Mylnarz came with us.

Because the family is still registered in Dai Loc district where they used to live, they are not able to receive any help from local authorities. Diem’s father had just made the long return trip to have an x-ray and had found out that he has compressed vertebrae. He was told to come back soon for more x-rays. He can no longer work as a motorbike taxi or labourer so it falls to his wife to be the breadwinner. This all sounds pretty gloomy but the whole family are so delightful to be with you’d never know what they are facing. One of CEF’s assistants Hieu translates for us as we look at the x-ray that father has taken off a nail on the wall. He’s in pain from the sciatica and I wonder what he’ll do. Surgery seems like the best option but it’s way beyond his means.

I have fun with the children videoing them and it’s with some reluctance that we leave for our next visit.

As we drive off I learn that CEF’s driver Bill has spotted an inauspicious placing of trees in the front garden and has told Diem’s mother she should move them to avoid any further problems for the family. Somehow this seems quite plausible.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home visits to the children in Binh Tu

CEF started in this farming community with just a small group of children who were in need of help to stay in school; now there are 16 children in this education program. As we have been able to relieve the burden by funding the children's education it has meant that they have been able to feed themselves better which shows as they are not scrawny like they were when we first started helping them.

The standard of most of their results has increased too; the main exception being those we started helping later as they missed out on some of their basic education in the early years.

Smiles are more common these days, and they express their gratitude more often for this simple support.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The CEF team now includes an amazing driver

CEF is most fortunate to have a driver with a big heart. All visits to the children used to take place by motorbike, but our area of work has grown and the the numbers of children we help has increased, so we have taken to using a car sometimes (especially in the rainy season). We have found an amazing driver, who is both a very careful driver, as well as being a good man with a huge heart.

Every so often his family clear out their clothes and he brings them along to give to the families. On a recent visit one of our girls was fortunate to be the same size as his wife, and so she was given some lovely clothes in very good condition. She was rather overwhelmed by this generosity, as well as very pleased.