FLORA AND LEANNE’S TRIP TO VIETNAM
Leanne and I traveled to Hanoi in Northern Vietnam in November 2010 to visit projects run by Youth With a Mission and Samaritan’s Purse. The Toc H League of Helpers and other Toc H branches support these organisations through the Toc H Vietnam Training Partnership. It raises funds to support disadvantaged children so they can continue their schooling (a project run by YWAM) and it participates in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection program run by Samaritan’s Purse.
We were met at our hotel by Mrs Minh and Miss Huong from Samaritan’s Purse. Miss Huong, our translator, is a graduate of SP’s school for the blind. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from university.
First they took us to a community near the bridge over the Red River where we visited the Red River School. This is a school for children of very poor families who cannot afford to pay the fees for regular schools or supply the necessary uniforms, books and stationery.
We then visited the School for the Blind. This is a project within a regular Government School in Hanoi. 150 of the 600 students at this school are visually impaired. Many come from rural areas and they stay in the boarding facilities at the school. Samaritan’s Purse funds a music program and a pottery program for the visually impaired students. We were very privileged to be treated to a wonderful musical recital of traditional Vietnamese music by these students playing a variety of local instruments. We also listened to the beautiful voices of the Junior Choir.
After a delicious lunch at Hoa Sua, one of the restaurants staffed by students of Samaritan’s Purse Hospitality training program for disadvantaged youth, we were taken to a Public Hospital from which SP operates a nutrition program for malnourished children and an AIDS/HIV program. Any children admitted to hospital showing evidence of malnutrition are put into this program in which the parents or guardians are given education on good nutrition, the children are provided with nutritional supplements and a nurse visits the home regularly to monitor the health of the children.
The following day Roslyn Jackson from Youth with a Mission drove us out into the countryside to visit two homes for children in difficult circumstances and two recipients of the educational support provided by funds raised by the Toc H Vietnam Training Partnership. Although some children are orphans, most have parents with severe health problems (commonly Cirrhosis of the Liver or mental health issues) which impede the family’s ability to earn income and care for their children. Each home is located in the natural family’s commune and houses about 20 children who attend local schools and are cared for by a house mother and father. The children remain under care until they have either graduated from university or completed an apprenticeship and have become financially self-sufficient. Academically these children tend to perform better than their rural peers, as the older children help the younger ones with their homework. The children also learn valuable life skills by helping with cooking, cleaning and laundry.
The educational support project has an added bonus for some children. While visiting families unable to afford to buy their children school supplies and uniforms or pay the fees (which are heavily discounted for low income earning families), the YWAM workers often identify children with special needs. This can include eyesight problems (YWAM refers such children to an optometrist to get glasses) or disabilities. Xuan (Swan) was one such child. She became a paraplegic after falling while playing with her brother. YWAM was able to supply her with a wheelchair she can ride to school like a bicycle and a special mattress to help prevent her developing bed sores. The other student we visited was Quynh. Both her parents are very ill, but she is a very keen scholar who is achieving excellent results at school.
All of these projects show that people who care really can change the lives of those who need help to lead the kind of life that many of us take for granted. To everyone who has helped support some of these projects, a big thank you from YWAM, Samaritan’s Purse and especially those whose lives have been changed.
If anyone would like any more information on these or other projects please contact us.