About Children's Education Foundation - Vietnam

Children’s Education Foundation – Vietnam works to break the poverty cycle by helping girls from impoverished or marginalized communities complete school or receive further education or training. By helping females CEF - VN believes this not only helps young women but gives to succeeding generations and their communities the possibility of a better life with more choice.

A better life for young women can mean many things. A girl who completes her schooling grows into a woman who is better able to look after her health and that of her children. By finishing schooling herself, she will care more that her children finish theirs and be better able to support them while they are in school. As a result of the skills and competencies she has gained during her schooling, she will be better equipped to earn a living and so have greater independence and dignity. An educated young woman is also at considerably less risk of becoming a victim of the sex trade or ending up an imprisoned worker in a sweat shop.

The sense of self esteem and confidence that completing school gives, can contribute significantly to the positive development not only of the individual, but also to that of their families, their community and society as a whole.

Our Story

My trip to Vietnam to set up a culinary tour for my students of Vietnamese cuisine resulted in not only the creation of a tour, but also the beginning of Children’s Education Foundation.

I wanted to learn Vietnamese Buddhist cooking to teach back in Australia and booked into a private class with a Buddhist nun, who was the cousin of a friend of mine. While we were preparing food and cooking, three children were running around the house. Their names were Trang, Lan and Hien.

I learnt that their parents had deserted them to start new lives with new partners after their marriage failed. The children’s grandmother, who was elderly, tried to care for the little ones, but it was too much for her. So the nun I was studying cooking with and who was a distant relative had left her pagoda in order to work to earn money for the children’s education and care. As they got older she couldn’t earn enough to continue sending them to school and while I was in the middle of the class she begged me to adopt them and take them back to Australia. She worried about what would happen to them if they were at a loose end and out roaming the streets. As I already had five children I tried to explain that I couldn’t adopt them; instead I promised to help educate them and so began Children’s Education Foundation.

On my next visit to run a culinary tour and visit the three children, I also went to the central highlands of Vietnam and met some lovely K’Ho families. I found out about their lives, the poor health of their community, and received answers to my many questions about the poorly looking children everywhere. That visit resulted in three years of fundraising in Australia to build a medical centre to provide free medical care and medicine to bring the level of health up for the whole village and so improve school attendance.

The medical centre opened full time initially, then when the level of health in the community improved we reduced the opening hours. School attendance increased greatly as the community’s health improved. Now all children attend school in the village. These days a nurse is available when required. Monthly voluntary teams of doctors come with medicines and their skills and Buddhist nuns come with parcels of goodies.

CEF has grown and now provides educational assistance for minority tribes, for children and grandchildren of lepers and for children from impoverished farming and fishing communities. We pay for education for boys in dire situations, but mainly concentrate on the education of females because the strong Confucian and Taoist influences in Vietnamese culture favor the education of males. The family is run by the mother, the health of the family is influenced by her and she is often the main breadwinner. So it is important that the females receive an education. An educated female will make a difference to her family, her community and society as a whole and will give her a future with many more choices.

CEF would not have grown and developed without the ongoing support of my family for many years. Now Graeme manages CEF in Australia, Stephen in the USA and I in Vietnam. We are blessed with help from compassionate, committed volunteers who assist in overseeing projects and contribute to CEF. All the work we do is not possible without the donations, the help and care and support of our kind donors, my family and friends.

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