Monday, June 22, 2015

About our recent Social Work training ~ Guest blog by Thuy

Working with children and their families is not always easy, especially with the vulnerable children. Sometimes, we see their problems and we really want to help them but we don’t know how to help because of many difficulties. Some difficulties are that we don't have enough knowledge and skills to solve their problems, we don’t get the co-operation we need from the children and their families, and we don't live near many of the CEF children. We only have our experiences of working for NGO's.

Miriam, our volunteer social work trainer with all of the staff at CEF

Therefore, we used to wish that we could have a chance to study about Social Work. Fortunately, CEF has a professional social work volunteer – Ms. Miriam and she was able to train us for than a month.

It was the first time that all CEF girls joined in on social work classes. We were very excited. Our teacher, Miriam is very nice and friendly. She has many years experience  of working with vulnerable people, including children. She started with some theory lessons and then applied that to some real CEF cases which we didn’t know how to solve.

From the information we provided about some of the children, she taught us how to analyze their attitude, their feelings, their problems and factors affecting them, Then she guided us to find some solutions that we can use.

We then discussed and found the suitable solutions for the children we discussed. Miriam also told us that sometimes, we may not find a solution for some difficult cases. However, at least we can try our best to help them. She also shared with us her experiences of working with many kinds of vulnerable children. Her lessons were not only interesting, but also very useful.

Miriam with two of us (Kim Chi & me, Thuy

We know that we are not social workers but this knowledge is very helpful for us. We enjoyed learning about it very much and we believe that we can use it in our work to help our children. Thank you very much, Miriam!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

'Social Work Practice in Action' sessions with CEF staff ~ Guest blog by Miriam

I am very pleased that I have once again been able to connect with CEF here in Vietnam. I have been a supporter of CEF for many years and this year I have had the pleasure of training the three full time staff; Kim Chi, Thuy and Ngoc. We have been looking at ‘Social Work Practice in Action’.

Miriam with all staff at an evening session on some CEF cases 

These competent young women already use many ideas from ‘Social Work Practice’, which is very difficult here in VN where there aren't the support services to refer families to. In this case the CEF staff have to become all things to all people. This could become overwhelming for them so we are also looking at ways for them to care for themselves, and learn to avoid over involvement.

We have also looked at and discussed abuse. As cultural differences make this training a challenge for the trainer, one can only imagine the challenges for the staff.

I have enjoyed this opportunity, mostly because these three full time staff are so keen to learn and are open-minded.

Keep up the good work Linda and all at CEF; you really give so many girls the chance to move out of poverty and avoid being trafficked. Never forget what a vital role you play in the lives of these children.

Miriam with Kim Chi and Thuy and the beautiful scarf from all the staff

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

About CEF's 'Water Safety Day' ~ Guest blog by Kim Chi

CEF’s children recently had an outdoor activity, 'Water Safety Day', which was very useful and fun for them. This year I was very happy that the children from the mountainous areas we work in could join our WSD. Although they have been sponsored for quite a long time now, they haven’t had a chance to take part in CEF's WSD because of the great distance from their homes to the beach. They had to come one day early to attend WSD and stay overnight.

Two girls from the mountains at CEF learning to play dominoes

We broke the children into a group of those who could come early and those who had to travel long distances and couldn't arrive before 8am. When the first group of children arrived at the beach early they looked very excited. After changing and putting on sunscreen they started with studying water safety theory before going into the water with the humorous teachers from Swim Viet Nam. This year, we had some gifts for the children who answered the theory questions from the teachers correctly to encourage them to communicate about water safety more as well as to help them remember the lesson.

Water Safety Theory

Swim Viet Nam prepared more beach games this year and our children joined in enthusiastically. Some of the children didn’t bring their clothes to change into after swimming, but they still jumped into the water to join the games and swimming as the games looked so appealing. 

The WSD does not only help CEF’s children know water safety theory and how to float and swim, but also gives them more chances to communicate with other children who also are helped by CEF. It's more and more fun for the children every year and they are getting on so well with each other. WSD is also a day when our children can relax after a year of studying hard at school.

 'Tug of War'

Beginning of 'Grab a Thong', a game with similar rules to  Musical Chairs'

'Caterpillar Race'

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Poverty can be the inspiration to be a successful student ~ Guest blog by Thuy

Hoi An is a popular and interesting destination for tourists. Thanks to tourism development the income of many local citizens has increased. However there are still many disadvantaged families in the countryside around Hoi An where many of the CEF children live.

Although each child has a difficult background, such as being an orphan, or a poor child with a single or sick parent, they all enjoy going to school and trying their best.

More than 80% of CEF’s children who live in and around Hoi An had a ‘good’ or ‘fair’ school result this year. Some of children are at the top of their class, even top of their school. They are not only good students at school, but also good children at home. They often help the family to do the housework, like cooking, washing, cleaning and looking after their younger siblings or grandparents.

I still remember talking to a girl who has been supported by CEF for three years and who graduates this month, about how she was able to make such great efforts and such change from being an average high school student to one of the best college students in her class. She said her mother has been the great motivation for her. Because of their poverty her mother had to work very hard all the time even though her health was not good enough to work, take care of her children, and her mentally ill brother. The girl could feel how hard her mother worked when she helped her to do the farming.

This girl intended stopping her studies after graduating from high school because she didn’t want to be a burden to her mother, although she loved receiving an education. But with the support from CEF she was able to continue her education and tried her best to get a useful qualification in order to get a good job after graduating and to then be in a position to help her family in the future.

It can’t be denied that poverty affects students’ success, but it sometimes becomes a great motivation for them to overcome their difficulties.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Brian is in Phuc Le doing end of year home visits

Brian, one of our Australian board members and an annual volunteer here, is up in Phuc Le doing CEF's end of year home visits and assessments with two Vietnamese Catholic nuns who have volunteered to help him. One is taking him to the families and one is translating. He is enjoying working with them and seeing the families.

It's a part of Vietnam without any hills, but is quite lovely and very traditional.

CEF staff photos

Some recent CEF staff photos

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

About CEF's Thai Binh families ~ Guest blog by Kim Chi

The first time I went to our northern project in Thai Binh Province where we help poor farming families’ children to go to school, I was touched by how very hard-working and sweet they were.
The only work they can do in this area is farming. They are used to getting early in the morning to go to their farm and work all day, except for having lunch at home.

The scenery is very peaceful and beautiful but the weather is very harsh. The harvest often fails because of the weather and insects. They also raise pigs, fish, ducks and chickens but they often die because of different epidemics that affect them.

There are some sewing factories in the province, but they pay a very low salary, especially to the children who only finished grade 8 or 9. The children don’t have many choices, as there is only farming work and work in the sewing factories. Therefore, we want to help them finish their education in order to have a better future with a lot of choices.
In this area 88% percent of the CEF children are ‘good’ students. Some of the children who we have helped have graduated and have jobs already.

The cost to go to this area is very high for us, so we are seeking a volunteer to help in the area so we can continue to help them at lower cost to CEF. We hope we can continue helping the children for a few more years until they have all finished their high school education.

About the CEF families in Quang Nam I work with ~ Guest blog by Kim Chi

I am responsible for the Mountainous and Tam Ky and Nui Thanh areas where many poor CEF families live.

Although they are disadvantaged they are honest, lovely and friendly. The rural areas are beautiful but there isn’t much work. Some of them have land and grow rice, some are workers who are hired to plant trees in forest and receive a very low income, and others are construction laborers or garbage collectors. However with most of these they can only work in the dry season.

The children go to school half of the day and help their parents with farming or some other chores to reduce their parents’ work. They work really hard at school to make their parents happy and also they know they will have a better future if they are educated.

I don’t have many challenges when working with the children as they are very obedient, hard-working, and honest. Eighty percent of children are ‘good’ students which we are very happy about. We will increase the number of children we will help in these areas in next school year (2015-2016) as the applicants are good students too. CEF plans to increase the numbers of children in remote areas as long as they are good students, honest and hard-working.