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January 14th 2010
Published: February 20th 2010
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Meet NgocMeet NgocMeet Ngoc

Ngoc is one of our two first recipients of a full seven-year education scholarship.
Please meet two very happy young girls - Ngoc and Uyen!

These two twelve year old girls attend government schools in Vietnam, are in grade six and come from almost identical backgrounds of extreme poverty. Until recently, the options for their future were very limited and completion of their schooling was highly doubtful due to their families' economic situations. Both of these girls are bright and intelligent; both won awards at school last year for being excellent students.

Yet despite the promise these two show at school, both are at such a severe disadvantage due to their poverty level that completion of their schooling is highly unlikely.

Ngoc lives at home with her mother and older sister. Ngoc does not know her father. In order to keep both girls in school and college, Ngoc’s single mother works long hours at an incense manufacturing company in Hoi An and relies on financial assistance from both her brother and sister - Ngoc’s uncle and aunt, to make ends meet.

Ngoc is a pretty, sweet, shy twelve year old who rarely smiles. She is polite and loves to try to practice her English which she did with me - albeit
And UyenAnd UyenAnd Uyen

Our lovely second recipient. Both girls come from extreme poverty.
very quietly and self-consciously! Ngoc enjoys school very much, loves to work hard and favours maths above all other lessons. Her dream is to become a teacher.

Uyen also lives at home with her mother and two sisters. All three girls are currently at school and Uyen’s mother has to work two jobs to pay for the schooling - as a cleaner and she also makes and sells soup from her home. Uyen’s mother has had to borrow money from a Hoi An women’s organization in order to assist with the girls’ education fees and therefore has monthly installments to pay back on this amount.

It is fair to say that Uyen’s family’s money situation is dire. Without financial assitance, Uyen will have to leave school and work to make money to help feed her family. Such a responsibility for a girl so young! Uyen is a bright and outgoing little girl who dreams of becoming a doctor some day. Her favourite subject is English and she loves school.

In Vietnam, the school system is very different from that in the West. Children attend school for four hours in the morning and, if they can afford it,
Ngoc & Mum at HomeNgoc & Mum at HomeNgoc & Mum at Home

This is the modest home where Ngoc, her mother and Ngoc's older sister live. It is on Ngoc's grandmother's land.
another four hours in the afternoon. One four hour session is at government school and it is fee based. The other four hour session called "extra classes" are classes that are very expensive taught by teachers in their free time. All classes have large student numbers, so it is survival of the fittest! Those not attending the extra classes have little hope of passing their final year, or even making it to the final year. Neither Ngoc nor Uyen’s mothers have been able to afford these all-important extra classes for the girls thus far in their schooling.

But this has now all changed. Through Lifestart Foundation, both of these girls have been sponsored by two wonderful and generous sponsors from Victoria, Australia. These two sponsors have provided each girl with a full Seven Year Education Scholarship. This is excellent news for Ngoc, Uyen and their mothers, as the full scholarships mean that the two girls will be able to attend all classes, including the extra ones and will cover their education until they complete secondary school. This opportunity will give them a real chance of ultimately attending University.

As a westerner from a background where I wanted for
Uyen's HomeUyen's HomeUyen's Home

Uyen and her mum show us their home, where the two of them live with Uyen's two older sisters.
nothing, it is impossible to fully appreciate the depth of meaning that a sponsorship like this provides. All I know is what I saw in those little girls’ and their mothers’ shining eyes as I asked them about their sponsorships. There were tears in those eyes. And for perhaps the first time in their lives, these were tears of hope for a future whose potential may now be realised.

- Ngoc & Uyen blog & photographs by guest blogger Fiona Jones.

Full Seven Year Education Scholarships are a new project developed in 2009 by Lifestart Foundation. This new project was developed as an adjunct to the education scholarships that are already offered by Lifestart Foundation to students who are at risk of not being able to complete their education.

Whilst the students who currently receive yearly Lifestart Foundation education scholarships are extremely grateful, as is Lifestart Foundation to our dedicated team of sponsors, I have realized that by only offering a scholarship on a yearly basis this is as long as this student is allowed to dream.
Lifestart Foundation will only make ongoing promises to students if the education scholarship funds are being held in the Lifestart
A Simple Place to SleepA Simple Place to SleepA Simple Place to Sleep

Ngoc & her mother sit on the simple bed that the two of them sleep on each night.

By granting a Seven Year Education Scholarship to the poorest and brightest students in Grade six we allow these students to DREAM. To dream of a future, career and possibly to attend University, ultimately breaking the poverty cycle for themselves and their family.

These special students will have their school fees paid including all of the extra classes paid and provided with uniforms and books. They will be mentored monthly and their progress and achievements will also be monitored monthly. The scholarships are performance based so their end of the bargain is to continue to excel. The children selected for these scholarships are from the poorest families and are the brightest students in their year level.

If you would like to support Lifestart Foundation's new Seven Year Education Scholarship initiative please contact Karen via this blog or email karenleonard@mail.com.

The total cost to sponsor a child in Grade 6 through to Year 12 is $2,500 AUD.
This amount can be paid in a once off payment or two installments over two consecutive years of $1,250 per year.

Alternatively, for those of you who are living in Melbourne, we are holding a Charity 1-day Adventure
Tree of Pride!Tree of Pride!Tree of Pride!

Ngoc's mother insisted that a photo of this tree be included in the blog! It has been in her family for many years and she is very proud of it.
Race on the 8th of May with all proceeds going towards our 7-year Education Scholarship Program.

Lifestart Foundation proudly presents the inaugural ‘Adventure Race’ supporting education and self-sufficiency for Vietnamese children and their families. This amazing race is a 1-day charity event in the cosmopolitan city of Melbourne, Australia, where small teams will literally race around the city finding clues and completing fun challenges to be the first team to reach the finish line and claim a prize.

The whole race will have a Vietnamese cultural theme and the day will be full of games, puzzles and riddles to challenge and entertain participants.

This is a perfect event for corporate groups, school groups, sports teams, mothers’ groups, book clubs, birthdays, hen’s parties, families - and more. You can expect to laugh, learn, share a fantastic adventure AND have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve changed the lives of disadvantaged children by supporting Lifestart Foundation’s 7-Year Education Scholarship Program in Vietnam.

Adventure Race Details

Date: Saturday 8 May 2010

Time: 9.30am to 3.30pm

Cost: $325 per team (teams of 3-5 people accepted.)
Shy Little LadyShy Little LadyShy Little Lady

A shy smile almost passes across little Ngoc's lips.

This covers the costs of the running the event and all participants are encouraged to fundraise as part of their participation in this adventure.

Suitable for: Participants from 8 to 80 years of age (for other ages, please enquire)

For full details see the Lifestart Website.

Several Melbourne schools will be visiting Lifestart Foundation's project work in Vietnam in 2010, this would be a wonderful way for students to learn more about the Vietnamese culture before travelling to Vietnam.

I hope that you will support this Fundraising Event and find a team of 5 people ( friends, family or work collegues) and take up the challenge to give a young person the dream of a lifetime. "An education"

I would love to be able to offer more students similar to Ngoc and Uyen this amazing opportunity, an opportunity very often taken for granted in other parts of the world.

Lots of Love from

Enjoying the blogs?? Forward them on or subscribe those who you think would be interested in Lifestart Foundations work.......its free!

You may also be interested in the following education related blogs.

The Lifestart Foundation Free School
A New School Building for Lifestart Foundation
Proudly Patriotic!Proudly Patriotic!Proudly Patriotic!

Despite all they don't have, Uyen and their mother love "Uncle Ho" as Ho Chi Minh is affectionately known as in Vietnam, and proudly display his face on their wall.

School Fees for Many
Art Classes
A - Realizing his Dream to Become a Doctor

Visit us at:


127 Phan Chu Trinh Street,

Hoi An, Vietnam


VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH THE LIFESTART FOUNDATION ADVENTURE RACE We need volunteers in the lead up to the event to distribute posters in Richmond, Springvale and Footscray. We anticipate that this would take a couple of hours per suburb. We also require a small team to put together support materials and items prior to the event. On May the 8th we need 10 volunteers to man the different challenge points in Melbourne.

Expressions of interest can be sent via this blog or email Karen direct karenleonard@mail.com

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Happy SmilesHappy Smiles
Happy Smiles

Uyen and her mother are so grateful for the opportunity the seven year sponsorship has provided for little Uyen. Now she will be able to complete all her schooling and hopes to realise her dream of becoming a doctor.
Our HomeOur Home
Our Home

Uyen & her mother show us their home.
Incense-Making by HandIncense-Making by Hand
Incense-Making by Hand

Ngoc's mother at work at the incense manufacturing company in down-town Hoi An.
Incense Anyone?Incense Anyone?
Incense Anyone?

....and with the finished products: incense cones made of agar tree!

22nd February 2010

amazing race
Hi Karen love the Amazing Race idea. I´m currently out of the country - finally made it to Sth America - hopefully will be back in time to get a team together. Good luck with it. love Anthea
22nd February 2010

Great blog!
I love the educational scholarships, yet another fantastic way Lifestart is making a difference!

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