My wife, Trang and I have travelled to Vietnam many times since 1996. While the general standard of living in Vietnam has improved vastly over those years, the average person has far less than those with minimal incomes in Canada. There are a great number who are extremely poor.
Together with help from our friends Andy & Carmen Theoret of Westridge Cabinets and Tracy Janzen, we again made a monetary presentation to the minority children who have stayed in school, plus a number of new children in rural schools in this area. Each year, the local government helps us organize this to ensure that our funds are going to those who most need it. The focus of the presentation is encouraging children to stay in school.
We again made a donation this year, together with our friends, Andy and Carmen Theoret. Out of the original 50 children who received bicycles in 2008, there are about 30 who are still in school. Parents have pulled the remaining children out of school as they need them to work to help support the family. At each presentation, we try to emphasize the importance of staying in school on the children and their families.
As a followup to our bicycles for education project (see below), Trang and I gave money and small gifts, including school supplies, to the children who were still in school in these 5 tiny rural communities. A local government helped organize the presentation as foreigners are not permitted to do this alone. Sadly, of the 50 children who received bicyles to help them stay in school, 16 of these young children had been taken out of school over the last 2 years to help the family work and make a very sparse living. We will be doing the same in January 2011 along with the help of a generous donation by the owners of Classic Woodcraft in Saskatoon, Andy & Carmen Theoret.
January - February 2008
In December 2007, the 722 Breakfast Club (www.722club.com) raised $1,800.00 and donated it for use in this project in January/February 2008. This money was used to purchase 50 bicycles for 50 minority children living in rural villages of Vietnam. Before they received the bicycles, it took them about 1.5 hours to walk to school each morning and another 1.5 hours to walk home ... enough to prevent the child from getting an education. With the bicycles, they can continue their schooling and have have the hope of a better life.
February - March 2007
This year again Trang and I were able to raise money with the help of friends and Cuelenaere Kendall. It was used to:
Provide food packages for seniors living in a part of the Nha Trang Orphanage
Provide small care packages and a few dollars to men and young boys detained for begging. These men and boys were kept over the Vietnamese New Year and then sent to work camps building roads in nearby rural mountain areas. After that they will be able to return home.
We again gave food packages to approximately 120 families spread between two rural ethnic minority communities.
January - February 2005
Trang and I returned to Vietnam with money raised by the staff members of Cuelenaere Kendall Katzman & Watson through hosting staff luncheons, a matching donation from the partners of the firm and contributions from some friends who made individual donations. With this money we were able to accomplish the following:
Distribute packages of treats to about 75 orphans.
Distribute packages containing noodle packets, candy and cookies to 137 seniors living in the complex described above. Some of the seniors are mentally challenged while others are not. I would guess that there were an even number in each category.
Distribute 120 packages containing a large amount of noodle packets, candy and cookies to ethnic minority families in a small village about 30 kms outside of Nha Trang City.
Distribute 55 smaller packages of treats to minority children living along the way on a small mountain road leading to the village of Ban Ho. For an idea of the view along the way to Ban Ho, take a look at the cool quiet stream to the right.
The reactions of the people we gave to was well beyond our expectations. The elderly kept thanking and blessing us over and over. Some even bowed and knelt in thanks so that Trang had to tell them not to. They broke open their packages and began eating the noodles uncooked. The minority people were also extremely happy. At one village, some people even jumped out the open windows of their homes and ran through a stream and across the road to us when they saw what we had to give. Look for the red bags that we gave out. You'll see them in the accompanying photographs.
We realize that we can't make a significant impact on the lives of people in need. However, we can help them eat for the week and provide them with a moment that brought some happiness to them. The photographs in this exhibition show some of what can be done with a relatively modest amount of money, accompanied by a high number of hours spent purchasing, packaging and distributing the gifts.
2002 - 2004
Over the last few years, Trang and I have become aware of various ways to help people who are in need in Vietnam. Our first project was with the help of our special staff and partners at my firm, Cuelenaere Kendall Katzman & Watson as well as our friends. In the past, we had given money to an orphanage at Nha Trang City. We felt good in doing so but realized there are others who need help even more. That's because the orphanage at least receives some government funding.
We decided to also help some seniors living on the same grounds as the orphanage, and minority people who live in rural and hill areas outside of Nha Trang City. All of these people are very poor. You and I do not have to worry about having enough money to buy food but that is not the case for many people in this world.
Thank you to all who gave and participated with us. This would not have been possible without your generosity.
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