Activities in 2017
AID to minority
January 2017 - We traveled over 1 hour from Dalat to the village of Dung K'Noh in Lac Duong District. This village is home to an ethnic minority tribe. There are 150 families living in this small village of just over 2,000 people. Each family is employed by the government to maintain coffee farms. In return, they are paid $186 every 3 months, regardless of the size of each family. This equals just $2 a day so the people live in extreme poverty. The area is extremely remote and very cold in winter. We were able to provide 150 families with a large fleece blanket, mosquito net and box of around 50 bags of noodles.
January 2017 - When visiting Dalat we went in search of a family I had met on my last trip. After hearing the family were doing well, we met another woman with 3 children, one of whom has a cleft palate. She is already 10 years old and they need 20-30 million (nearly $2,000) for surgery. We donated clothes, toys, school supplies and a small donation. We also took their number to see if we can organise surgery.
Mr Duong is the old night guard at my hotel. We have supported his family for 5 years with medical costs associated with his severely disabled granddaughter.
FOOD FOR TET
January 2017 - We organised for 54 extremely poor families to receive a food parcel to celebrate Vietnamese New Year (Tet). Each family was selected by Mr My, the Chairman of the People's Committee in Vinh Ngoc, home to over 20,000 people. Each food parcel contained 33 bags of noodles, a bag of rice, bottle of oil, box of cakes and some sweets for children. We saw some familiar faces - Thanh Tien's father and grandfather, Phuong Nguyen's grandmother and Uyen's grandmother. It's nice to know that three of our sponsor kids who joined in 2016 will be receiving these treats for Tet.
January 2017 - We welcome 10 new sponsor students from Dien Hoa Primary School. We were delighted to give out the beautiful Tet clothes donated by sponsors and the kids were keen to try them on! We also gave each child a Quan Am t-shirt and cap. After this I visited the homes of Dat, Nhu, Tien, Tuyen, Phu, Thanh and Ngan. The following week I returned to Dien Hoa Primary School to give out school supplies to our students and then visited the remaining 3 houses of Quynh, Nhu and Binh. And just before I left we arranged to meet the parents at school to give out a food parcel and household supplies to all the families. I've really enjoyed getting to know these kids!
January 2017 - We welcome 10 new students into our Child Sponsorship Program who join us from Phuong Son Primary School. On day one I gave out some specially packed gifts from New Zealand before heading out on the first of our house visits. I saw the children again when I was invited to their end of semester ceremony to present their scholarships, notebooks and new clothes for Tet! Once again, we put on a big magic show for all the children (over 774 of them!) and arranged for their parents to collect food parcels and household items. We also decided to donate a bicycle to Uyen who is very excited with her gift.
January 2017 - I was able to visit Quan Am's very first sponsor children from Vinh Ngoc Primary School. I was so pleased to see that many of their parents also came to school to see me and it was lovely to see how well the children are doing.
We called our students up in front of their peers to present their scholarships and lovely new clothes to celebrate Tet (Lunar New Year). Our new students Tam, Au and An also received notebooks, Quan Am t-shirt and cap and we visited their homes and families.
Following the ceremony we had our magician perform to the whole school as a bit of fun!
January 2017 - We traveled north to visit Kim Son Pagoda where 4 of our sponsor children live with the nuns and attend local schools. It was lovely to see Sinh, Thuong and Van again, as well as Gia Han who is my own sponsor child. They all opened some lovely gifts from NZ and we then presented their scholarships for the next 4 months. Hiep and I were asked to join the nuns for a delicious vegetarian lunch followed by fresh pineapple and orange juice.
As the children traditionally wear robes, instead of clothes they received new shoes.
January 2017 - On 17 January 2017, we made an epic journey into the Phan Rang mountains to visit a whopping 9 schools! We partnered with Living is Giving to provide aid to poor mountainous children, mainly of Raglai ethnicity who live in extreme poverty. This funding was all made possibly by HealthPost, who selected us as their Charity of the Month in October 2016. Which just over $6,000 NZD, we were able to provide aid to 11 schools (2 we couldn't visit) and 859 children!
January 2017 - Project 1
The weather in the mountains can get very cold. As many of the children are malnourished and live in basic wooden huts, they are prone to illness. We sourced excellent quality wool sweaters from a wholesaler in Dalat, around 4-5 hours drive away to distribute to 540 children at 10 kindergartens and 1 primary school.
January 2017 - Project 3
Three of the kindergartens required repairs to the ceilings of their schools. It is difficult for the children to study and sleep inside during the hot months, and impossible for them to attend class during rainy season. The children eat, sleep and study so ceiling repairs were essential. We were very pleased with the outcome and the teachers were so happy to have children back in class!
January 2017 - Project 2
Many of the schools told us that families are too poor to feed their children even one meal per day, and are giving them just 12 cents a day to prepare a meal. As you can imagine, this barely enabled the schools to provide a bowl of rice for each child. They asked us to build greenhouses so that children can learn gardening, while providing fresh fruit and vegetables for their meals, and for the wider community. The schools requested seed, plants and fertilizer, as well as fencing and protection from animals. We built two greenhouses.
January 2017 - Project 4
Many of the villages don't yet have wells to access clean water. This means that teachers and parents travel hours each day to collect water, to then boil before giving it to children. Living is Giving will be digging these life saving wells in the dry season, but in the meantime we provided water filtration systems to 5 schools so that teachers can quickly provide clean water to students.
January 2017 - Project 5
The teachers at three schools asked us to supply toothbrushes and toothpaste in order to teach the children about dental hygiene from a young age. Many children in Vietnam have rotting teeth and end up losing their baby teeth early on. We were really pleased that they wanted to encourage healthy smiles and donated to 152 children!
January 2017 - Project 6
Many of the kindergartens reached out to us to supply blankets and mattresses for the children. It's normal in Vietnamese schools for children up until secondary school to have at least one nap during the day. The children in the mountains have never in their lives owned a snuggly blanket and the reactions to these were just priceless. It was one of the highlights of the day to gift out a blanket and mattress to 138 children.
January 2017 - Project 7
At one school we were shown into a tiny, dark kitchen where they prepare food every day for children across 4 schools (142 children in total). They had one double gas cooker but only one element was working and it looked ancient. We left behind some funds for them to purchase a new one, and hope the fruit and vegetables from the greeenhouse will help their food supplies.
art & craft
January 2017 - Project 8
Six schools requested some art and craft supplies to help teach the kindergarten children. Each school received scissors, crayons, pencils, modelling clay and erasers.
There are 242 children across the 6 schools.
January 2017 - Project 9
We were asked to arrange a wheelchair for a young girl likely suffering from club foot however just before we left, the teachers asked us to buy her a walker instead. After a few instructions from her teacher, we were blessed to witness the little girls first steps. I imagine she's making huge strides since we left! This incredible gift should enable her to learn to walk and have the opportunity to continue her education.
January 2017 - Project 10
The teachers at this school are in an extremely remote area. In fact they told us we were the first visitors to the school in years! They were very keen to purchase a second hand laptop so that they could research teaching methods and prepare activities for the children.
We would love to get computers into some of these schools in the future so that the children can be the ones learning from it! For now, the teachers were thrilled.
January 2017 - Project 11
Phuoc Thang Kindergarten has 59 students in attendance. They asked for some new desks and chairs for the children as they were in a terrible condition. Instead of replacing them all, they chose to repair some of their current desks and
chairs with new pieces of wood. We donated 20 new desks, 40 new chairs and repaired 20 sets of desks and chairs.
January 2017 - On my last day in Nha Trang, a terrible fire ripped through an extremely poor area of town and destroyed 80 homes belonging to 103 families. Thankfully, nobody lost their lives, but these people lost everything they have ever owned. I visited the site and saw the devastation. We decided to donate funds to the families and our friends from Living is Giving have been in regular contact to arrange funding, food and check on their temporary housing.
January 2017 - When our lead coordinator Miss Hiep told me she would like to provide free English lessons to our sponsor students, we were delighted and set aside funds to purchase desks, chairs, a whiteboard and fans. We are renting a large space and holding regular free English classes for children from poor families. We are already at capacity and aim to buy new desks soon!
January 2017 - We are delighted that two of our sponsor children at Dien Hoa Primary School were chosen to receive new bicycles to enable them to get to school. Dat and Thanh were so excited to be presented their bikes and did a victory lap around the school!
January 2017 - We were also pleased to provide a gorgeous pink bicycle to Uyen from Phuong Son Primary School and Nhu from Cao Thang Secondary School!
January 2017 - Each one of our sponsor children's families receive a care parcel once a year. It includes rice, noodles, oil, soy sauce, chilli sauce, seasoning, dishwashing liquid, washing powder, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. We gave these out to all our new families along with any essential items for their homes we felt they needed. These included things like - clean sleeping mats, pillows, blankets, mosquito nets, fans, gas cookers, rice cookers, kitchen utensils, cups/bowls, water filters, children's desks, chairs and tables. These went out to 29 families.