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January 31st 2012
Published: April 20th 2012
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Jade Upper Prep 1985 Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School.
Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar Schoolis in Essendon, Victoria, Australia. It is where my daughter Jade attended school from kindergarten to year 12.

In June, 2010 twenty eight Year 9 students and teachers from Lowther Hall visited Lifestart Foundation in Hoi An. The students and teachers held fundraising events prior to coming to Vietnam and the group raised enough money to sponsor a young Vietnamese student in grade six for seven years. Her name is Lua.

Lua is the youngest of three children. Her parents are casual labourers with unstable work. They live in a simple one room house with no furniture. They are currently saving to install a toilet, a luxury that they do not have. Lua has always been the top student in her class and hopes one day to become a teacher.

Her favourite subjects are Maths, Physics and Chemistry. Thanks to her Lowther Hall scholarship Lua will be able to realize her dream of completing her education.

The time that the Lowther Hall students and teachers spent in Hoi An with Lifestart Foundation included participating in a Hoi An lantern making class, an introduction to the Lifestart Foundation Workshop and meeting workshop members, a traditional painting class with former Lifestart Foundation

Hong and Lua 2010 & 2011 7 year Education Lowther Hall Scholarship students pictured with Chanel and Erin from Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School
recipient Sinh and a language exchange with the students at the Lifestart Foundation Free School. The students and teachers also had the opportunity to spend the day with their sponsored student Lua and to learn a little more about her life. The students from Lowther Hall showed empathy and genuine interest beyond their years when they listened to the stories about the people that Lifestart Foundation is helping.

Our hope is that this type of educational visit fosters a greater understanding of the plight of those living in developing countries and the daily challenges that they face. We also hope to empower students from abroad who visit our projects by giving them the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful and significant way which in turn will have a life changing impact on a young persons future in Vietnam. What an amazing gift, to give a bright and intelligent young girl who previously was at risk of not being able to complete her education the guarantee of her education through to Year 12.

Lifestart Foundation's School Tour initiative is a relatively new project. We are very excited with the success of the school visits to date and encourage other

Some of the Lowther Hall students pictured with the LSF students during their 2011 visit to Vietnam.
schools around the world to get involved.

It is a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to philanthropy and to help them walk in the world with greater social awareness. Also to have the opportunity to meet fellow students in a developing country and hopefully to return to their home countries with renewed appreciation. We now have several schools who make this visit to Lifestart Foundation Vietnam an annual trip.

The 2010 Lowther Hall school group visit was a great success and Lowther Hall planned a subsequent visit to Lifestart Foundation again in 2011. This time with a group of forty students and their teachers!

The group again fundraised prior to coming to Hoi An and once again sponsored another young student in Grade six for seven years. Her name is Hong. Hong lives in the Cam Ha area of Hoi An with her mother, her disabled father and her severely disabled adult brother who has cerebral palsy. Hong is in grade six and cycles 2km to school each day from her home. She is an excellent student in the second top position in her class. She is especially good at maths and literature and is also head

Hong is the Seven Year Educational Scholarship Student Sponsored By Lowther Hall Students 2011.
of her class group - similar to being a class monitor. Hong was at risk of not being able to complete her education due to the dire financial circumstances of her family.

Hongs mother grows rice for the family to eat and then does extra jobs such as helping other people with cleaning or washing clothes for an income. She earns a very low salary.

Her brother has cerebral palsy and as he has got older he has also become weaker. Once he used to be able to sit up with some help but can no longer so he is confined to bed all day. Hong's father lost the use of his right leg during the Vietnamese war (Vietnamese people call this the American war.) He stays at home during the day looking after his son and helping with the housework.

We asked the Year 9 students from Lowther Hall to write a few words about their experience with Lifestart Foundation in Hoi An Vietnam. Here is what they had to say.

“I absolutely loved the Lifestart Foundation day, it was an amazing and enjoyable experience. I met some very inspirational people and loved taking part in a range of activities.” Megan

“If I could change anything with this day I would simply have made it longer.” Loren

"This day really touched me and brought out a different side of me that I didn't know existed. Seeing the women with disabilities and their smiling faces really inspired me and made every small worry of mine seem so irrelevant. As a group, I think we matured and all grew together, and took a large step into 'the real world' which we always avoided or never came in contact with because it was not something that we were exposed to. I saw the change within myself and within my classmates after we visited Lifestart Foundation and I think it was a wonderful wake up call, as well as a very rewarding experience to be able to meet and connect with people who live in a completely different world to us. Every time I worry about something that seems quite tragic, I am reminded of the people that I met at Lifestart Foundation and the ladies there who have such bigger things to worry about.

After I came back from Vietnam, I became grateful for every detail of my life. For my bed, my house, the food in my pantry, the comfort of my family; all of these factors make my day so much better knowing how lucky and privileged I am. I now help with the dishes and cleaning without being asked, and I make up my bed every morning without groaning.

The day that we spent at Lifestart Foundation was by far the most memorable day that I spent on my two week trip to Vietnam. It was such a happy yet awakening experience, and allowed me to grow as a person and watch the growth of my classmates. It was such an enjoyable day and really brought out a different side within me, and inspired me to help more and to become grateful for everything that I have access to." Cjay

More information about seven year educational scholarships can be found on our website.

If your school is interested in coming to spend some time with us in Hoi An please get in contact.

For those of you who are little techno challenged like myself if you click on any of the words in blue it will automatically link you into that subject.

Lots of Love from Karen

Many thanks to guest blogger Emma Rowe from Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School for collating the student quotes and for her help with this blog.

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

If you happen to be in Hoi An, Viet Nam, visit us at:


77 Phan Chau Trinh Street,
Hoi An

If you have visited our workshop or been on a tour and liked what you saw and what we are doing please help us by leaving a review on TripAdvisor.

Stories of some of our other educational scholarship students are included on the links below.

Thinh – A Six Year Old Carer Needs Your Help
A – Realising his Dream to Become a Doctor

Ngoc & Uyen – Lifestart Foundation’s First Seven Year Educational Scholarship Students

Hien – Pagoda Baby

School Fees for Many

More students comment about their day at Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An. Vietnam


"This day showed me that there is a lot more underprivileged people/children in Vietnam than I really thought there was. It was completely inspirational seeing all the disabled Vietnamese women

Lowther Hall students participate in a Traditional Painting Class with former Lifestart Foundation recipient, Sinh.
working and making items that they had developed skills in. It has changed the way I view my own life and made me feel very lucky to have the things I do because there is a lot of other people who are a lot less fortunate than me.

Yes, the day that we spent at the Lifestart Foundation was definitely one of my favourite days by far."


"The day at the Lifestart Foundation affected me personally because I got to meet great people and experience the culture, as a group I got to interact with people in very different predicaments to mine. I would definitely recommend visiting Lifestart Foundation to many people because it was a great day
learning new skills, opens your mind and heart to how other people live and is definitely supporting a worthy cause and the fight for a better life."


"Our entire Vietnam field trip was a wonderful experience but the day at the Lifestart Foundation
particularly stood out for me. Having encountered poverty during the trip already, seeing someone actually doing something about it was very motivating and inspirational, especially since the founder came from the same place that we did. I've always been passionate about erasing poverty from the world but I felt that I was too small to make a real change. The day at Lifestart Foundation has taught me that as long as you want to, you can. I would definitely recommend Lifestart Foundation to other visiting schools, particularly those from Australia.

This was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience and I think that they'll have a wonderful time."


"This day effected me personally in a few ways, I was overwhelmed by the support that Karen and the Lifestart Foundation has given to Vietnamese people. I was surprised how much difference one person can make and I was saddened by the stories of the women and children. I am more aware about helping the poor and ill and the effects of living in poverty. I would recommend visiting Lifestart Foundation to other groups because it was a great experience and we learnt a lot about Vietnamese life and how people can


"Visiting the Lifestart Foundation Workshop really affected me as I got to see people trying to make a real difference to their lives even though they are struggling, they are passionate about making a difference. Seeing the disadvantaged people at Lifestart Foundation Workshop really makes me think about how lucky I am and how I don’t have to fight for anything in my life and how I should stop complaining about little things and start opening my eyes into a world of possibilities into helping those less fortunate. The Lifestart Foundation Workshop was one of my favourite activities in Vietnam and every opportunity I get I constantly tell people about it and recommend it."


"I thought that the day at the Lifestart Foundation was really enjoyable. It affected me by showing me just how disadvantaged the disabled Vietnamese people were and how much Karen has done for them. I found it amazing that regardless of their disabilities, they could still create beautiful and unique products. I would definitely recommend this visit for the future years and other schools/groups because it was fun, creative and interactive and we got to meet some of the staff/workers at the shop which was really great."


"I really enjoyed the day at Lifestart Foundation. It was a great experience and I really wished we could have spent more time there. After visiting the Foundation, I can see that my perspective on life and things has changed a fair bit. I have found that I don't complain as much anymore and really appreciated my life, the people in it and my possessions more. There, I saw myself how difficult it was to live in Vietnam but seeing the smiles on the ladies faces, it really made my day. We could all see that they are very unfortunate and are affected by the war yet they were still able to smile and laugh. Some of them had no legs but they were always talking and laughing, which really inspired me and made me appreciate my
life more. I would definitely recommend other groups to visit Lifestart Foundation when travelling to Vietnam because it was a wonderful experience, even better, I would recommend them go there for two days. It is an extremely fun and life changing experience and being there for one day, wasn't enough for me."


"Personally, it made me realise how privileged I am and how I lucky I am. It has definitely changed the way I see things. I would definitely recommend visiting the foundation for other groups because it was eye-opening and inspiring."


" I absolutely loved the Lifestart Foundation day, it was an amazing and enjoyable experience. I met some very inspirational people and loved taking part in a range of activities. I support what the program stands for and respect its values. Karen has done a fantastic job creating a charity which has helped so many people work towards their independence. Visiting the shop we were taught how to paint Vietnamese note cards and create fabric lanterns. (Both items are sold in the Lifestart Foundation workshop) I loved walking around the shop and seeing all the smiling faces of the workers. It was an uplifting experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent there ! After visiting the Lifestart Foundation workshop it put into perspective how lucky we are and what we take for granted. I would recommend visiting the Lifestart Foundation, as it is an experience you will never forget. You are able to meet some beautiful people and take part in some enjoyable activities. It is one of my favourite memories of Vietnam!"


When we first when to Lifestart Foundation my views on everything changed, the people that work there have such difficult lives and still manage to have a smile on their faces because they get to work and they get to do some daily activities. I believe that Lifestart Foundation has changed my view of being lazy and how I should be grateful for what I have. I am lucky enough to have the life I have and when I thinkabout being angry for not being able to do what I would have liked to have done or not helping out someone when they have asked, and I think back to the people in Vietnam that really can't do anything and how happy they were when they were able to do something.

100% I would recommend visiting Lifestart Foundation to any other group that is travelling to Vietnam because honestly if you don’t go to Lifestart you haven’t gotten the best experience in Vietnam that you could have gotten. Lifestart is something different and it gives you the opportunity to meet and work with some of the people in Vietnam and the best part is that it opens your eyes to a whole new world.


"It changed me so much although now after being back in Melbourne for so long I have started to drift back to my old ways. I still remember the Lifestart Foundation day so much, it was such an amazing opportunity and I was really inspired by all the women working there and what they have been doing! I already like the idea of helping other people but seeing this was incredible its made me want to be a better person.

I bought many goods in hope of fundraising money for kids out there. I loved seeing some of the kids and learning with them, they were all so shy but it was so nice to meet some of them. I had so much fun and it was such a carefree day. The activities were so engaging and I want to do it all again. If I hadn't done that I would be a different person

Lifestart Foundation education program co ordinator.
today, I believe I am a better person because of it. Everyone needs to visit even if they don't get to do all the things we did everyone in their life should have an opportunity to experience what I did!"

CELIA - Teacher

"Our day spent at the Lifestart Foundation had a strong effect on me. It allowed me to interact for a short time with some very enterprising and courageous Vietnamese women. The lantern making session was delightful if somewhat challenging and our group gained firsthand insights into the way the Lifestart Foundation program encourages growth and independence for both adults and young people. I was very impressed by the huge commitment of the teachers and other Lifestart Foundation staff. The day with Lifestart Foundation was one of the most interesting experiences I enjoyed whilst in Vietnam."

VICKI - Teacher

"The day was very informative and inspiring. I talk about Lifestart Foundation fondly to my friends and others, including possible ways to help. I would like to think that our school can continue to support the
scholarship program and that we can all contribute to this fundraising in some way. I believe this is a must stop for all who visit Vietnam, especially school groups. The Lifestart Foundation caters to the needs
of the people in Vietnam and shows how we can all help be part of this positive program."


"I was very impressed with the set up of the Lifestart Foundation. I particularly enjoyed the language class because students were able to exchange knowledge, and our girls were able to see how difficult it is for the Vietnamese students to learn English. It gave me a greater understanding of the 'place' of women, particularly disabled women, in Vietnam. It also reinforced how lucky we are in Australia to have a health care system. We will certainly return to Lifestart Foundation in the future."

There are lots of photo's so please click on next to see them all.

Additional photos below
Photos: 70, Displayed: 35


21st April 2012

I was so impressed and moved by the story and comments. I have visited your school several times and became aware of its participation in this good cause. Well done - I feel so privileged to have read these stories.
15th May 2012

Well done Karen!
Hi Karen. Yet another fantastic initiative! Well done to you and the girls from Lowther. As a Moonee Ponds girl it is heartwarming to see you fly the flag for us Aussies here who try to make a difference. Great to see the money from the fab Auscham ball going to such a great cause. Don't forget to email if you need anything! Dani Moggymekongmadness.blogspot.com

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