Our first year as the Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation was very humbling because it was a steep learning curve for all on board. It was definitely a lot of work, from developing our mission and vision and our approach to fulfilling our vision to the fundraising efforts, but in the end, when we saw the smiles on the children’s faces, we knew it was all worth it!
In our first year, CVBF provided assistance to six places. Vinh Long orphanage is located three hours south of Ho Chi Minh city. The orphans and abandoned children range from newborn to age 14. They reside in what used to be an institution for delinquents or drug abusers. Though the orphanage is government-run, it is poorly funded and hence the children are in need of further assistance to maintain a healthier standard of life. With the help of our representative, Kim Mai Trang, we brought the children new clothes and shoes for the 2014 Lunar New Year. In June, Ms Kim took many of the children out on a visit to the local attractions followed by a home-cook meal at Ms Kim’s place. Throughout the year, we helped supply the children with basic needs such as milk and diapers for the infants and additional basic food items for all the children.
Mai Am Tin Thac is located in Bao Loc, five hour drive north of Ho Chi Minh city. Sister Huong, with her small staff, care for over 50 orphaned and abandoned children. Almost monthly, under the direction of our project director Linh Kim Truong, we helped the children with formula/milk, diapers, detergents and other basic necessities. We also delighted the young children with some new clothes for the lunar new year.
Mai Am Tinh Thuong is located on the outskirts of Ca Mau, a city in the southern tip of Vietnam. It is a small residential school where approximately 20 abandoned and orphaned children are taken in for care and provision of a basic education. Our representative, Dr. Do Nguyet Man made regular visits throughout the year to ensure that the children/students have adequate supplies of rice and other basic food items. Before the new year, we bought the children/students new sets of clothing.
In Dak Glei, we helped Sister Loan’s residential school for girls. Because Dak Glei is remote with a surrounding community still living in substandard conditons, the residential school provides a place for the girls, of high school age, to stay and study. Sister Loan is a firm believer of helping the surrounding community by educating their girls. There are over 40 girls residing at this school. CVBF helped buy and install a solar-powered water boiler to keep the water warm for the students. As well, we helped pay for the school fees for some of the girls at the school along with some middle school children in the community.
The Lang Son residential school is another remote school which provides a place for impoverished students to stay during their studies. We not only provided funds to help pay the school fees for ten students, but we also provided funds to help the school buy books and school supplies along with winter garments and linens to keep the students warm during the winter months.
Our most exciting venture in the first year was our collaboration with the Vietnamese Education Society, a registered Canadian charity based out of Saskatoon. We were able to help contribute funds to the building of an early education centre for approx 50 preschool and kindergarten children in the small hamlet of Kon Kloc. The construction of the two room building, under the direction of Carin Holroyd of VES, began in early June and was completed by late August 2014. We also provided funds to help purchase more library books for the neighbouring Nguyen Hien school.
In addition to helping the children in these schools and orphanages, we piloted a new scholarship program for underprivileged students from grade 6 to grade 12. It is our hope that the funds will help these hard working students continue their education to completion. For the grade 12 students, the scholarships were given to help them fund their post-secondary studies. We initiated the program in Ca Mau and Can Tho, and with the help of our representatives and local school principals, we were able to select the students in most need. In total, the CVBF awarded $3000 to the students in Ca Mau and another $3000 to the students in Can Tho.