Truong with his competed Retro lantern. This design is one of our best sellers.
Hai & Truong - Entrepreneurs in the Making
Meet Lifestart Foundation Workshop's youngest members - 15 year-old Hai and Truong.
Both Hai and Truong have remarkably similar backgrounds in that they were both born into extreme poverty. Their fathers are both fishermen whilst their mothers work in the market selling the day’s catch. The money their parents make from fishing is very low, and most days it is a struggle to feed the entire family.
Both families low income has meant that they were unable to afford to send Hai and Truong to school beyond Grade 6.
Unfortunately the boys left government school and were unable to find work, after some time had passed they heard about Lifestart Foundation's Free School and approached me about continuing their education. The time that had lapsed was too long for them to return to government school to continue their education so Lifestart Foundation's Free School was perfect for them. The Lifestart school accepts all children who cannot attend government school for a variety of reasons. These are children generally who have fallen through the cracks.
The boys now attend the Lifestart Foundation’s Free School five days a week. They
are blossoming in their small and nurturing class of six students! Their teacher Co Hue, a very experienced and caring teacher has been with us from the start and is dedicated to her Lifestart students. The boys have recently commenced English lessons five days per week with our volunteer ESL teachers David from Australia and now Ruth from the UK and they are loving these classes.
In order to help make ends meet, both boys worked part-time after school in a lantern-making factory, each taking home only 50,000 Dong per month - that’s around $AUD3 per month!
Lifestart Foundation took note of the skill these boys were learning and endeavored to make their time and craftsmanship more profitable for them.
By providing them with further technical training in lantern-making, top quality lantern kits and retro funky fabrics the boys are now able to make one to two lanterns of their own each day. As well, the boys have been taught a new skill - how to tye-dye fabrics by hand.
One of our Lifestart Foundation volunteers Ros, taught the boys how to tye dye Vietnamese silk and Vietnamese cotton, the fabric is then used to cover the lantern frames
Hai is very proud to be able to provide for his family.
to make really unique lanterns.
When you purchase a lantern from the Lifestart Foundation Workshop, Hai and Truong receive all of the profits from the lanterns they make. They now make more money selling one lantern than they did making hundreds of lanterns in a month!
Hai and Truong are now able to dream. They are creating a sustainable future for themselves, and their extended families and learning life skills in how to manage and operate a small business initiative.
The boys both save half of their income in the Lifestart bank and will access this when they are 18 years of age, the other half is given to their family.
This income is a huge help for both families and enables them to simply buy enough food to feed all family members for the week. Hai and Truongs parents volunteer at Lifestart Foundation each month as their way of saying "thank you " Both boys families are so proud of their sons and their small business success.
When we introduced this new product at the workshop I had no idea how successful the lanterns would be, I am so pleased to report that the lanterns are
The internal frame of the lanterns are made by disabled makers.
walking out the door. We now have customers from around the world. One of our customers purchased nearly all of our lantern stock for his shop in Barcelona.
Hai hopes to continue to save half of his income and will make a decision later in life about what he hopes to do with his money. For now he is content to help provide food for his family. Truong is now the main income source for his family. Both boys hope to one day own their own homes with some land and with your support this dream becomes closer to a reality.
As the Lifestart Foundation Workshop expands it is no longer exclusively a women's group. The criteria for selection is simply extreme disadvantage. We have welcomed able and disabled, young and old, male and female to become members of our expanding and thriving workshop. This mix is reflective of life and works wonderfully well.
The older childless members of our workshop love having the young energy in our workshop and they instinctively adopt a "mothering role". Our young people like Hai and Truong are able to work closely with people of all ages with a variety
HARD AT WORK
The boys love their work and take great pride in their lanterns.
of disabilities and ultimately become better young people for the opportunity to help and work alongside a wide range of people.
Lots of Love from
www.lifestartfoundation.org.au Want to get involved and help support our work?? The LIFESTART FOUNDATION ANNUAL DINNER DANCE & CHARITY AUCTION FUNDRAISER JULY 31st....
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Visit us at:
LIFESTART FOUNDATION WORKSHOP
77 Phan Chu Trinh Street,
Hoi An, Vietnam
Read more about the Lifestart Foundation Workshop and the makers via these links The Beginnings of the Lifestart Foundation Workshop NGHE'S STORY NGUYEN - LIVING WITH A BROKEN HEART TRANG - FEARFUL & ALONE NO LONGER HOA - INDEPENDENCE AT LAST THE LOVELY MISS LUONG'S STORY XUYEN - 60 Years Old with her First Motorbike! MISS NGUYEN'S HEART WARMING UPDATE Memory Portraits
Text by Karen Leonard and guest blogger Fiona Jones.
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