Friday, August 28, 2015

CEF's good news today is that two sisters have just been sponsored

CEF is happy to share the news that these two girls now have sponsors who are committed to their education and will support them all the way through school. 

Their mother needs this support for her daughters as she has poor health, works hard as a garbage collector, but is still unable to earn enough for their education on her income. Sadly their father is mentally ill to the degree that he needs to live in an institution. 

So this is good news for mum and the girls; a relief for mum and joy for the girls as they love school.

Big thanks to their new sponsors for caring enough to help both these girls. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A group of ladies called 'Nam Knights' have donated allowing us to give three scholarships

 A group of ladies who call themselves 'Nam Knights', because they help in Vietnam, have donated to CEF. This has enabled three girls from a mountainous area in Quang Nam, near the Vietnam-Laos border, to complete their last year of school. We are thrilled this has been made possible allowing the girls the satisfaction of completing their education, but also making them more employable.
Border communities in any developing country are vulnerable to the ruthless due to the poverty and desperation in these areas. These girls will be stay in a boarding facility at school while they complete their last year, and then afterwards will be able to look for employment as high school graduates. This is a wonderful gift for these girls. Thank you 'Nam Knights'!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pam introduces herself and talks about meeting her sponsor children ~ Guest blog by Pam (one of CEF's board members in Australia)

Hello, my name is Pam Moreton-Caldwell and I work in Mental Health Services at Morisset, near Newcastle, NSW. I also live in Morisset with my husband Wayne and my youngest son Drew. My oldest son Kris lives nearby.

I am a member of the Australian Board of Directors of Children’s Education Foundation and I have been involved with CEF for almost 4 years now.  I thought others might like to hear about my experiences as a sponsor of two young girls through CEF and as a member of the Australian CEF Board.

While holidaying in Hoi An in 2012 Wayne, Drew and I were introduced to Linda Burn via a mutual friend. Linda told her story to us about how she founded CEF and about the difficulties young children, girls in particular, had gaining an education in Vietnam, especially those in the hard to reach areas. An education is something we take for granted here in Australia.

We were so taken with Linda's dedication to her work and the plight of some of the young children of Quang Nam Province that we decided to sponsor not just one, but two young girls, one in high school and one in primary school. This was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

As we were already in Hoi An Linda arranged for us to meet with our sponsor girls and their family members during our stay. What an impact that meeting had on us all, especially me!  ‘V’, the youngest was so tiny and sweet when we met her with her dad by her side who was so obviously unwell. And ‘K’, our eldest, who we also met, was with her sister ‘T’, and both of them were so very thin.

This visit made the plight of young girls in Vietnam so very real for us. Meeting these young children and knowing that we would be partly responsible for their future gave a us a sense of purpose somehow, that when we came back home to Australia we stayed in touch with Linda via email and Facebook, and continued to offer our support where possible for ‘V’ and ‘K’ and their families.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pam shares about further visits to her sponsor children ~ Guest blog by Pam (one of CEF's board members in Australia)

Our next experience with CEF was a visit back to Hoi An the following year. This time we had friends and family come with us as my husband Wayne and I were having our commitment ceremony in Hoi An. On this visit Graeme gave a talk to our group of friends and we had a further visit with our girls.  What a fantastic experience!

We brought some practical gifts; books, stationary and wet weather gear for them. We all enjoyed lunch with Linda, Graeme and Quan and the girls and we got to know them a little better through Quan interpreting for them and us . Once again we returned to Australia with this sense of achievement and pride in giving our support to such a worthy purpose.

Quan explaining about some of the gifts from Pam and her family, 
and Lien putting in 'V' new hair clips

I won’t forget the joy on ‘K’ face when she gave us her wedding gift of a Vietnamese mung bean cake and a gorgeous bowl full of little origami cranes.

             Pam and little 'V' amazed at all the work 'K' had put into making the cranes 
My next visit to Hoi An I was on my own. I was given the opportunity to visit our sponsor girls’ homes. This was a very humbling experience. I remember visiting ‘V’ with her dad who was very ill at the time.

                            'V's dad was very happy to meet Pam again

Pam and 'V' doing some beading together

We also visited ‘K’, her mother and sister in their home. They offered us a meal they could ill afford, made in their makeshift kitchen. The welcome was so memorable.

                                     Pam at 'K's' home with 'K's mum 

I saw firsthand the mats ‘K’ helped her mother make to earn a living. And soon after this visit to them I experienced a typhoon and wondered however they would survive.

One of the beautiful mats that 'K' and her mother made for Pam

I came home after this visit a changed person.  I think I was kind of leaving fragments of my heart in Hoi An with every visit, but on this visit I felt I was also leaving a part of my soul.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pam talks about her role as a fundraiser for CEF ~ Guest blog by Pam (one of CEF's board in Australia)

Linda and Graeme approached me after my third visit and asked if I would be willing to join their Board of Directors (in Australia). Very humbled and secretly thrilled to bits.  Happily I accepted! I now help with fund raising for CEF.


I have some very helpful friends and family who support me selling chocolates in my work place and also in my husband’s workplace. So far I think the tally raised is around the $3000 in the last year. I do my best to spread the word and have had some significant donations. I have just got my first person on board to sponsor a child and hope to get many more. I feel good about this.

 Pam with chocolates she and friends sell to raise funds for CEF

I am now trying a new technique, ‘crowd funding’, to see whether I am able to raise funds this way.

I also create mosaic artworks which are for sale and hope to have a stall in the near future.  I have sold 2 small mosaics and a painting and have orders for mosaics in the pipe line. That should allow me to make $580 profit and give that donation to CEF. I just need the time to make them and it’s just as well I enjoy mosaicking!!!!

Two of the stunning mosaics Pam has made

Mosaic Pam is working on at present

 Fairly recently I was able to return to Hoi An again, talk to Linda about fundraising and was able to visit our girls. This year we are supporting ‘K’ through university. Sadly little ‘V’ lost her father recently. I made a promise to him that we would take care of ‘V's’ education and see her through school and we will do our utmost to honor this.

 Pam made a beautiful lotus mosaic for 'K'

 Pam also gave her old laptop to her 

And 'K' embroidered a clock for Pam, that actually works!

Thank you for reading all my blogs, and best wishes to all,

Photos from CEF's education sponsorship program in the north-east of Vietnam during rice harvesting season

These photos help to give you a feeling for the farming community in the north-east of Vietnam where CEF has an education sponsorship program. I was just doing updates for some of the sponsors who have children in this community, and while looking through the photos I thought about how I love going here.

During the rice harvesting season everywhere there is rice and these photos are of the rice that is in the process of being checked and prepared for packing into sacks. This sorting mainly happens in the living room or at the entryway to the home, and out of the sun.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Photos of some of our CEF students taken by Rehahn, a well-known local photographer

These photos by Rehahn are lovely and capture the children beautifully. It was greatly appreciated that he was happy to, and could spend time with CEF staff and students to take these lovely photos. He has a local gallery in Hoi An but spends a lot of the year travelling so the opportunity for this was rare. These are all CEF students, except the last one, who is the little nephew of the last girl.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

CEF's life saving 'Water Safety Day' ~ Guest blog by Brian, one of CEF's board members in Australia

The often beautiful countryside of Vietnam masks fearful hazards for young children.  Studded as it is with flooded rice paddies, fish ponds, streams, waterholes and rivers, it can be a wonderful child’s playground; but at the same time a death trap to those unable to adequately care for themselves in an aquatic environment.

A recent UNICEF report reveals drowning is a leading cause of child death in parts of Asia, including Vietnam, which recorded a staggering annual death rate of nearly 12,000 in 2013.  This represents the death of a child in this way about every 18 minutes during daylight hours.  In addition, a further 12,000 had a near-death drowning experience, many suffering permanent disabilities as a result.
Most drownings and near-drownings for toddlers, aged 1-4 years, occur while mothers or primary caretakers are busy with other chores. These young children are often supervised  by siblings, who are really in need of supervision near water themselves.

                                       First up - Theory

It was with knowledge of statistics like these that CEF embarked several years ago on the initiative to stage an annual 'Water Safety Day' at the beach for all of it’s client children who reside within reasonable reach of the Cua Dai beachfront, near the city of Hoi An.   This is a great outing and an enormous fun day for the kids, many of who live well into the hinterland and rarely, if ever, see the ocean.

However, the underlying purpose of the event is to provide sufficient basic swimming and safe rescue training to afford a degree of self protection for each child; and extending to the benefit of younger siblings and friends who may on occasions be left in their charge.

The UNICEF study revealed that drowning death rates in children 4 years and older who participated in SwimSafe (swimming and safe rescue training) were reduced by more than 90 percent.
                                          Second – Hit the Water

Yet another amazing Water Safety Day was held in brilliant sunshine in early June.  The atmosphere was charged with laughter and squeals of delight as close to 100 children enjoyed the sun and the surf, while at the same time gaining some valuable skills imparted by staff of the local version of the Swimsafe programme, assisted by sunscreen covered CEF staff and volunteers.

Safe to say a lot of tired kids went away happy; but more importantly armed with some skills which may just save a life in the future.

                                  Third – Hit the Beach
There are of course costs involved in staging this event, feeding the children, transporting them from and to the hinterland etc.  So in 2016 when CEF saddles up again you might like to think about helping with a small contribution.  You might just be helping to save a life.

Note from CEF's Director: One life has already been saved! Soon after one of our Water Safety Days, one CEF child fell into the water and nearly drowned and remembered what they had learned at the Water Safety Day and were able to save their life! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Our newest part-time staff member Thuy introduces herself and shares her moving story ~ Guest blog by Thuy

Hello, my name is Thuy. At the moment CEF has two staff who have the same name, so you can call me ‘Small Thuy’. I was a volunteer and have done training at CEF over the last year and now I am working as a part-time staff member.

                                                Thuy 2015

Before being a part-time staff member, I was also a child who CEF gave educational support to for 6 years. Now, I am in my final year at Quang Nam University. Like other children there, my family is also poor. 

My father died a long time ago when I and my sisters were very young. Just my mother was responsible for bringing us up. At that time, we faced many difficulties, not only material, but also spiritual because we stayed with my grandmother and my uncle’s family in their old house. 

My uncle was addicted to drugs and he was an aggressive man who beat. In addition, because of gender prejudice, my mother, me and my sisters were neglected and despised. I used to live very shut off and smiled rarely. My family thought that I and my sisters would drop out of school after graduation from grade 9. My mother couldn’t cope with all these things. 

Luckily, when I was in grade 8, the local government introduced our circumstance to CHIA (which is also a non- government organization in Hoi An) in order to provide support for me. In grade 9 CHIA helped built a small home for us with help from CEF, which was near my grandmother’s home and CEF helped with my education. Later on CEF started to help my sister with her education too.
We no longer felt anxious, as we had a separate home and I and my sisters then had a good place to study and do homework. How happy we were when we were free of our old circumstances. Since then, my life turned a new page with bright dreams and expectations. 

Linda and Thuy 2010

And many years passed quickly, I now am in my final year at Quang Nam University. I am not only going to school like friends my age, but also I am working as a CEF part-time member. 

At the beginning of my third year in university, Linda, who is director at CEF, offered me a great chance to work there. At first, I was a volunteer and recently I officially become a part-time employee. I know a certain thing; Linda could have employed another person who has many more experiences and a higher English standard than mine, however she gave me a wonderful opportunity. 

You know in our society nowadays it isn’t easy to find a job that is connected to the major subject we have studied, or work we like and that is suited to us. Moreover, there are a lot of students who have graduated from college, so there are many looking for work.

So volunteering and working at CEF is a challenging opportunity for me to improve my knowledge as well as experience. I appreciate and value this good opportunity. Although I’m actually worried that my English skills are limited and I'm afraid that Linda will be disappointed. But I try my best to finish my work. 

                                Thuy doing a student interview 2015

Growing up in an environment like mine I clearly understand the numerous and realistic values that the organization brings to a lot of poor children, especially girls. 

Furthermore I really admire Linda as well as CEF’ staff because they have overcome the geographical barrier to support poor children who are from high mountainous areas so they can access education. 

  Thuy did a trip into the mountains with staff to do interviews

                        One of the families that were interviewed in the mountains

                           Thuy with Mai-Thi and our other staff member Thuy

And since I am working at CEF, they are always willing to support and share with me many helpful things. Not only in work but also in life they offer advice which helps me mature more. All the staff are very amicable and sociable. Their enthusiasm makes me more confident in myself. Besides they are also very humorous. I smile more than before and it is here that they show me how to view life through hopeful eyes. I am getting to know so many things: my horizon is more expanded and I am accumulating more experiences. 

I am genuinely keen on doing this job and I’m always proud of being a CEF’s staff. I am grateful for you for giving me this wonderful chance to work and understand more about your significant job. 

Lastly, I would like to say thank you very much.

Small Thuy