A Holiday Gift to a Child in Ha Tien Foundation for the Children of Vietnam P.O. Box 2507 Rockville, MD 20847
Dear Friends of ChildrenVietnam, Every year, Thieu Dao, a volunteer and retiree from Springfield, VA, travels to Vietnam. He challenges himself to find the poorest of the poor and reaching remote villages, often accessible only by a footpath or canal. A bed sheet and water bottle is all he carries in his travels. As he crosses through villages, he's treated with a taste of the true Vietnam: Warmth and Welcome. The villagers always greet him with kindness and open arms, even though they don’t often get visitors from out-of-town, much less out-of-the-country. They share their simple fan fare of rice, salt or potatoes with him. The dirt floor is his luxurious mattress and his bed sheet is his only covering. He sleeps, praying the poisonous scorpions don’t find him appealing. This past year, Thieu’s travels took him to Ha Tien: a village accessible by an eight-hour bus ride from Saigon to the Cambodian border. It lies in the mountainous terrain of Vietnam. Here, lives the Cham ethnic minority. Everyday, the Cham children must walk 4-7 hours across the mountains to get to school. They carry enough food for 3-4 days, sleep on the school floor, and walk home when the food is gone. With 1 bathroom for girls, 1 bathroom for boys and 1 teacher, this school services 600 children. These 600 children are considered lucky: lucky to be able to have an education, to learn to read, to learn to write, for many Cham children cannot go to school due to their families need extra pair of hands to complete daily chores. Seeing these conditions, in 1998, ChildrenVietnam was founded ChildrenVietnam made one of their main goals is to give every child an opportunity to go to school. We believe that education is essential in helping these children escape poverty. But such an opportunity has many challenges. It is very difficult to bring building materials up the mountains to build a school. It is even more challenging to find teachers to staff it. In spite of these challenges, we found ONE aspect we can help to make a large impact to the difficulties for children to attend school. At the top of our wish list this year, we are aiming to donate 100 bicycles for these children. With these bikes, it will take them 1-2 hours each way, making the daily commute physically possible. With these bikes, they can do more, such as run errands, go to the market, go home to help their families with daily chores, etc. For $50 US dollars, we can take the first step of making education possible, tangible. 1 bike allows a child to not have to walk 4-7 hours, or sleep in school as opposed to with their families, and most importantly, it gives them a doorway to a whole new world, a world of language, words, numbers, history and passion, things so easily taken advantage of. From the staff of ChildrenVietnam, won’t you support a child by adding a bicycle or two to your holiday gift list this year? As a gift for your gift, you will receive a picture of a child receiving your bicycle gift with your name attached. See the smiling children who are so thankful that you have chosen to make a positive difference in their lives. 100% of your fully tax-deductible gift benefits these children directly. Any additional money will go to build additional bathrooms at the school. Click here to donate.
Yours in Gratitude, Tammi, Augie, Phoenix and Jim
Mission Possible Our Mission to Give
On January 13, 2008, ChildrenVietnam arrived in Saigon. Our mission: bring money, clothes, toys and food to children in need. Our volunteers dedicated in Vietnam already had everything in place to logistically ensure a successful mission. Our first stop: Maison Amour orphanage in Sa Dec. We were greeted by impeccably mannered, energic 50+ orphans. Stories were told, Christmas carols were sung with the children and pictures were drawn by the children as gifts for us. Hugs and tears were exchanged as we waved our good-byes. Our second stop: The Children’s Hospital in Saigon. This was tough. Image the horrible images in the news of every space in the floor is covered with people. We stepped over families sleeping in the hallways. Families stay so they can be close to their children. This floor is their home until their child can go home. In the Burn Unit, a 5-year-old child had to have both legs amputated the next day because he fell into a trash incinerator. In the Kidney Unit, we saw many children with swollen abdomen and purple tongue, symptoms of kidney failure. With heavy hearts, we did what we could. We passed out stuffed animals to the children and money to twenty of the poorest families in each unit. We headed over to the soup kitchen that feeds the patients and their families and gave the volunteers money to buy rice. In spite of the tragedies we saw during the day, that evening, we took the opportunity to visit a blind boy we have the opportunity to send to school, with your funds, for the last two years. We're happy to find he is now in the 2nd grade. Even greater, he rewarded us with a thank you letter written in Braille. It was great to see such our contributions made a difference in this child's life. Our third stop: a small house that has 50 orphans - most of which were sticky and dirty. One baby was running a fever. The food we brought was immediately consumed. Only one person works there and she is overwhelmed. We received many sticky hugs and kisses. The children drew beautiful pictures for us to take back. Our fourth stop: Global Community Service Foundation in Hanoi. The Global Community Service Foundation was having a fundraiser dinner and art aution and we were able to help. It was a huge success. Our fifth stop: Hue. We took a 4-hr tour around the city by “xich lo”. What we saw isn't what tourists see: children playing in the trash, women washing clothes in polluted river water, a village where they collect plastic bags from the dumps, then washed and sold them to a plastic recycling plant for pennies a day, children with severe deformities from agent orange, and a market where what the vendors had to sell would fetch $1 if all the goods were sold that day. We visited the xich-lo drivers’ home, which floats on a polluted river. One driver had to give up 3 of his 4 children to an orphanage. In the end, we bought 3 “xich lo” for them. Why? They were too poor to own them. In order to earn an income, they must pay rent, which lowers their earnings, reducing their ability to put food on the table. They could not stop thanking us. We also visited Kim Long orphanage with 100 disabled children. It admirably tries to sustain itself with a daycare center and selling candies glued on foam figures. Our sixth stop: Thu Duc (a village 1 hr outside Saigon). We visited an orphanage, the Picasso house, that has a school for disabled children. At the Picasso house, we visited 250 orphans. The orphanage is arranged in a family style: 25 houses, each house has a “mother” and 10 children. Nearby, is an orphanage with 100 children, all infected with HIV, some have tuberculosis and hepatitis. We passed out hundreds of red envelopes with money (li xi) to happy children. Our final act of charity: We managed to visit with Father Viet who oversees 500 disabled orphans in Rach Gia and Father Cuong from Dong Nai to give education scholarships to 20 children who otherwise would not be able to go to school. Finally, an exhausted but satisfied team left Vietnam on January 28. Mission accomplished.
Signing off, ChildrenVietnam
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