From Celia Caughey newsletter August 2012:
“The new girls are mostly 12 or 13, with one, Tuyen, only 7. Tuyen is tiny but a bundle of energy. She has always lived with her grandmother who was moving around too much for Tuyen to go to school. She loves to sing and is looking forward to being able to start school in September. Lua (12) had a complicated family set-up and dropped out of school after Year 1 when her mother left, then worked looking after younger children and as a waitress in beer halls. Now in the Home she will be able to resume her schooling in Year 2. Dang (12) has been sleeping at night in the park on stone benches with her father and by day selling various wares in the backpackers’ area, so will now be able to start school in Year 1. Linh (12) has lived with foster parents who are tenant farmers but live too far away from a school for her to attend, so they brought her to the Home so that she could go to school. Kieu (12) was abandoned by her parents when they both divorced and remarried, then lived with her grandmother who sold lottery tickets on the streets. When she got too old to look after Kieu she brought her to the Home. Trinh (13) and Vy (13) have both come to the Home so that they can continue schooling which their families couldn’t provide, while Tram (13) has come as her father died and mother has a terminal illness with not long to live. That gives you a picture of who our girls are and why they come into the Home.
Partnership with Fonterra
While I was in Ho Chi Minh City I was pleased to be able to formalize a partnership with the HCMC based office of Fonterra. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme they aim to focus on children and provide dairy nutrition. They have chosen Ba Chieu Home as a key partner to seek to build a long term relationship with, given its link with New Zealand and with their principles. The General Manager, Leon Clement, said his staff “were also impressed with the Home’s management and the dedicated people that work there”. This is all very good news! I organized an afternoon meeting between Leon, a dozen of Fonterra’s management team and Mrs Thanh, Vice President of the Women’s Charity Association which administers the Home, at the Home with all the girls there. Leon said in his speech he thought Fonterra shared the same values as the Home, in terms of nourishment, care and protection. The partnership will involve Fonterra donating UHT milk for the girls to have a glass each every day, and its staff getting to know the girls to look for other ways to assist. Staff raised funds which were used to give all the girls a new pair of shoes and new school uniforms to start the new academic year. Leon also hosted the girls at his home at a party to celebrate the Lunar New Year. (He commented that at the party the girls behaved remarkably well and showed great maturity in their contact with other guests, more so than many of the other children there.) This is a very promising initiative which should provide great long term benefit to the Home. I am happy to see New Zealand businesses working in Vietnam giving back by providing assistance to the Home”.
From my students only Hanh (picture in the bottom) is still at the shelter; she is an accounting student now.