Monday, July 27, 2015

My experience of doing education assessments in the mountains ~ Guest blog by Thuy

I was a volunteer and training at CEF over the last year and now I am working as a part time staff member. I have had a lot of chances to visit CEF children and two weeks ago I went to Kham Duc district which is very far from Hoi An. I was very excited because this was the first time I travelled to a high mountainous area to interview many poor families. I was accompanied by 3 of CEF’s staff; Quan, Thuy and Ngoc. I thought that this was an honor as well as a good opportunity for me. I have gained a lot of experience from this trip. 

We started our journey at 5:30 am. I was really tired because it took 2.5 hours by car and we had to go through the mountain pass to get to Kham Duc town.  Luckily the air in Kham Duc was fresh and comfortable. In order to visit the families whose children need support to access further education, we had to continue by motorbike and passed over many high mountains. It was a wonderful feeling travelling in the mountains to their homes.

 At first, I wondered how people could live in such a little-visited region where the obstacles of geography, transportation and education attainment, living standards, as well as economy are very challenging to overcome. Yet I was really surprised when I spoke with the many nice poor girls there. They are not only healthy but also sociable, good-natured and hard-working.

 I was able to relate to many of the families there as some had a background a little similar to myself. For example one of the dad’s of one of the family’s passed away when the children were quite young. The mother then became the breadwinner of the family and brought up the children. However, many were born into poor farming families who had no opportunity to go to school. So, at the moment, they only know how to cut down and destroy forests to cultivate rice and corn, collect firewood and raise pigs for extra income. 

Life for families in Kham Duc is very difficult. It isn’t easy for the widows who have very young children to raise and take care of. It is hard enough to have enough food to eat and clothing to wear, much less to provide them with access to further education. Thus, for the girls who are from the isolated and remote areas, to go to school means a happy and lucky day for them. 

Rice there is not to eat but to sell, for money for other things they need. Clothing is not warm as they can’t afford it. And studying conditions are inadequate. Inside their homes there is nothing valuable: no tables, no chairs, no desks, not even a kitchen. For learning there are no extra tuition classes, no extra books, and no internet as well. 

Nowadays as society is becoming more modern, academic and social knowledge has become expanded and updated. Children in cities have many advantages for learning, recreation and integration. However children in the high mountains only learn basic lessons in the textbooks, collect firewood and help their mothers in the forest. 

However, these disadvantaged children always have nice and natural smiles on their faces despite living with difficult conditions. They all have brilliant dreams for the future and study very hard in order to continue going to school. It is an unfortunate truth that even if they pass their university entrance exams, the possibility of them being able to continue receiving an education is slim due to lack of funds.

I hope that CEF will have more sponsors to support these children so they can have a chance of a better life in the future.

(Thuy & Quan's photos). 

Note from Linda:
If  you are interested in scholarships for these children please get in touch.

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