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Published: August 27th 2011
Ly has been a member of Lifestart Foundation for just over a year now and has in every interview for this blog expressed her gratitude for being given the opportunity to start creating a sustainable income for herself and her family.
Adopted by her birth mother’s friend as a baby, Ly grew up on Cam Kim island near Hoi An. She attended school until grade five but was then forced to stop as there was not enough money to keep paying her school fees. From this age until she was 16 years old, Ly worked at home, helping her adoptive mother with mat making and farm work which was very difficult for her as she has problems with her heart. Deciding to try her luck in the big city, she headed to Saigon to see whether she could improve her future opportunities in life by attending a sewing course. Spending 5 or 6 years in the city, she was able to find a job which allowed her to earn enough to send a small amount back to Cam Kim to help her family.
Ly’s world changed again when her adoptive father passed away. As a fisherman work was irregular
and he went out in a storm to try to get some extra money for his family – sadly he did not return home. From that day Ly resumed work in Hoi An with her mother and furthermore helped her in bringing up her three younger siblings.
Being adopted, unfortunately means that the rest of her adoptive mother’s family sometimes do not treat her well – something that has recently meant another big change in her life. Married and mother to a little boy, she lived in a small house with her mother, siblings, husband and son until recently when her uncle-though-adoption told her to leave the house. She told me that he said the house belongs to his father and she has no right to live there any longer. Ly currently lives with some other relatives free of rent and pays her way by helping with household chores. While she appreciates the housing, her dream is to buy a small piece of land somewhere to be able to live in peace with her fisherman husband and six year old son, Vu.
As an investment in her family’s future she has borrowed 60,000,000 Vietnam Dong (approx $3,000 aud
)to purchase a fishing boat for her husband – unfortunately this line of work is erratic and heavily dependent on the weather which means at times of the year, her income from the Lifestart Foundation Workshop can be their main and only source of money. She is a valued member of the Lifestart Foundation family and through making two products is able to earn money for daily expenses and also helps her save a little money for her son’s school fees, allowing him to stay in school.
On looking for new members to join the workshop, Ly was recommended to the assistant in-country manager of Lifestart Foundation for her attention to detail and meticulous work. Ly was initially trained to make beautiful Ao Dai bookmarks by Hoa. Hoa has been part of the workshop since day one and was very happy to pass on her skill and allow someone else to share in the profit made from these products. When asked what she thinks about working in the workshop she gets a little bit teary, saying how touched she is with the opportunity she has been given. She takes her job very seriously, pays immense attention to detail and
Ao Dai Bookmarks made using Vietnamese Silk
These beautiful bookmarks hand made by Ly are available online for $5 usd.
is hardworking. She is also quite shy - so much so that this blog has taken so long to come out!
Last year we were very fortunate to be able to welcome a wonderful volunteer, e Bond from Philadelphia. e was Ly's trainer and taught her how to make her second product "Good Fortune Journals" Read more about e here. Ly's Products
Many Vietnamese people believe they can attract Good Fortune by surrounding themselves with “lucky” symbols and objects. Five types of Good Fortune sought after by the Vietnamese include Longevity or “ Long Life”, Peace, Happiness, Love and Reverence - these are hand painted onto a set of four Good Fortune Journals
which are created from paper and bound with embroidery thread.
Traveling through Vietnam you're bound to come across a traditional costume, the Ao Dai (pronounced ow-yai in the south). Ly, alongside other members in the workshop makes bookmarks
depicting the dress from silk and paper. The bookmarks are very popular as gifts and like the journals can be ordered through the online store and shipped anywhere in the world! Online Store
I hope this blog and the blogs linked below are giving you all more of an idea
Good Fortune Journals
Each is hand made, hand painted and hand stitched by Ly. The set of four is available online for $20usd.
of the work we do and people that Lifestart Foundation helps support here in Hoi An, Viet Nam...
Lots of Love from Karen
www.lifestartfoundation.org.au Nhung's Story Mai - An Aspiring Artist Vinh - A New Member at the Workshop Hai & Truong - Lantern Makers Miss Nguyen's Heart Warming Update
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If you happen to be in Hoi An, Viet Nam, visit us at:
LIFESTART FOUNDATION WORKSHOP
77 Phan Chu Trinh Street,
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