Friday, March 20, 2015

My first week at CEF ~ guest blog by new staff member Thuy

My name is Thuy. I have just joined the CEF team since the 4th of this March.  Although I am a very new CEF staff, CEF director and other staffs make me feel very comfortable and relaxed.  They are very friendly and helpful with sharing both their knowledge and experience with me. I am very happy to work with CEF.

I had the first three days in the office to get familiar with our office and office work. Kim Chi and Thu Ngoc not only introduced CEF to me clearly, but also helped me to do CEF work.

On my fourth CEF day, we had a home-visit trip to Hiep Duc, a mountainous area which belongs to Quang Nam province. Different to other NGOs, our home visits and events are often held on weekends because it’s the only time most of the children are free.  Linda - CEF's director, Stephen - CEF 's coordinator in the USA, Kim Chi - CEF staff, and me went on this trip. We visited 12 children that were supported by CEF to see how they were and to update their information. Children in mountain or rural areas, not only try their best at school, but also help their families to do housework or help parents earn more money to support their lives. Tra (her name has been changed here) is one of our examples. 

Tra is a grade 10 student and is quite a good student at school. Her mother has liver cancer and her father is often sick. Everyday she wakes up very early to help her mother prepare vegetable to sell in the market. She then comes home to do some housework, prepare the lunch and look after her young niece, the daughter of her older sister. In the afternoon, she goes to school. She also joins in on some extra classes in the evening. She comes home about 9pm and starts to do all her homework. Although she is very busy, she is still happy. She said she will attempt to do more study and to do better to make her mother pride of her and for her future. She wishes her mother can live a long time.

Each CEF child has a different situation but they all enjoy going to school and believe that education will help give them a chance to have a better future.

My first week ended with the bi-annual event – payment day. On this day we meet all the students that CEF helps with education and make payments for one term. I could see the happiness of the children and their parents on their faces. As everything was already prepared well by the other CEF staff before the trip, and with the good support of CEF local partners, the Vietnam Women's Union, the event was successful.

I was lucky to join CEF at a busy time so I could see many activities and learn more about CEF from my director and colleagues. I believe that CEF is a great place to work and I will try my best to make a positive impact and contribution to CEF.

Two challenged but wonderful CEF mothers ~ Guest blog by Ngoc

In joining in on many home visits I have an opportunity to get to know about the CEF sponsored children and their families lives.

I really appreciate and admire some of the mothers who always support and stand by their children in any situation.

These are two mothers whom I am working with who are good samples of wonderful mothers.

This is a photo of  Linh (her name has been changed here) with her mother and granny. It is already two years since her father passed away due to a motorbike accident. They are still very sad about this; her mother always cries whenever she mentions him.

She is the breadwinner of her family and she works so hard. She works for a garbage collection company from early morning till late afternoon and then she goes to the garbage dumps to collect recycled materials in order to increase her income. She used to return home at 9.30 p.m, then do some household chores and go to sleep at 11 p.m. For a while, she realized that she did not have time with her lovely children and she realized how lonely she was as her children went to bed before she returned home from work. For this reason, she decided to work 1 hour less in the evening so she could go home to be with her children and feel the happiness when having dinner with them, and seeing them doing homework. According to her, it is the most ecstatic time in each hard-working day.

 This is Tuyen (her name has been changed) with her mother. She is little for her age perhaps because she isn't strong with good health. She lives with her mother and siblings in her new small house, which is next to her paternal grandma’s house. In the past, they lived in a shack which was in sand hills surrounded by graves. Soon after her father died of a stroke 3 years ago, they had to leave the area as it was bought up for development, so they all moved to live with granny and then built their little home with some funds from being relocated and with a loan.

Tuyen’s mother is a farmer and also works in a hotel near their house as a housekeeper. Besides that, she takes care of 2 children and her mother-in-law. She works hard all day but she can not afford all the expenses for her family. It was lucky that her oldest son graduated from vocational training and worked as a chef assistant in the hotel where she works. Over a year everything seemed to be going smoothly and was gradually becoming more stable, Tuyen’s mother and her family suddenly had a big shock when they heard that Tuyen’s oldest brother died in a motorbike accident. It was unacceptable for her mother because she had only lost her beloved husband 3 years earlier  and now her son also. She went unconscious when heard this terrible news and it took time to accept this fact. Gradually, she realizes that she is not also the main breadwinner of her family, but also the only shoulders for her 2 children to lean on; hence, she tries hard to overcome her spiritual and physical losses.

Besides working, she spends time being with her children and looking after her small family and encourage her children to study hard.

The way these mothers shared their story is different but both of them have similar thinking that each of them have their own fate, instead of refusing it, they accept it unconditionally, and try to make do what they can to make it better. Thanks to that thinking, they can overcome many obstacles and challenges in their life in order to bring love, care and happiness to their children.