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Published: August 10th 2007
Hoa and Phuong and their three sons live in one very small room that runs off a narrow little alley.
Their tiny room has a tiled concrete floor (a plus amongst many minuses). The walls of their room are made of woven bamboo and the roof is tin. Both walls and roof are in poor condition: the roof leaks and the walls have holes in them.
The family all sleep on the concrete floor, as they do not own one piece of furniture. They have a few blankets, a couple of pillows, and a small gas burner to cook on…and that’s it!
Eleven-year-old Truong is in year six and eight-year-old Vu is in year two at the local primary school. Hoa and Phuong are struggling financially and were unable to pay the children's school fees.
Lifestart Foundation sponsorship has been able to help by paying school fees for both boys for the next 12 months; in addition, they both received new school uniforms, school bags, and the school books necessary for their year levels. This provided instant relief for both Hoa and Phuong, taking a weight off their shoulders for the next 12 months.
Phuong with his new nets.
at the local fish market. Her job is to weigh fish. She is paid a little over $1AUD per day for this, only when there are fish to weigh. Three-year-old Vinh goes to work with her at the market.
Phuong is a fisherman, working mainly at sea. Many types of fishermen work in Vietnam; some work on the river, and some at sea on big boats. The sea fishermen usually work for a boss and often are away from home for long periods of time as they travel far for their catch.
The life of a fisherman is unstable. Work is dependant on the ever-changing weather and climate. Phuong, like most fishermen, cannot provide a regular income to feed his little family.
Lifestart Foundation sponsorship purchased river fishing nets and a light for Phuong so that when the weather out at sea is too rough for fishing, he can still work catching fish from the river. He will borrow a small boat to enable him to do this. The light will allow him to also fish at night.
Sponsorship has also paid for repairs to the roof of their room so
Their little room with no furniture and their " kitchen " in the background...
they no longer get soaked
Their little room with no furniture and their " kitchen " in the background...when the roof leaks during the rainy season. The family also received enough rice for several months until I return.
Sometimes, it is a good idea to help a new family a little at a time. It is important to address the major problems first. For this family, the children's education was a priority—they ran the risk of having to stop school due to unpaid school fees. The next problem to address was making their shelter watertight. Finally, helping Phuong generate an alternate income by giving him the equipment needed to river fish at night will hopefully enable him to feed his family either with the fish he catches, or by selling a large catch at market and using the money to purchase food.
I will continue to work with this little family and check in on them next trip to see how best to help them.
Lots of Love from Karen.
This last trip was as usual very productive, some of the highlights were
1. Moving into our new Lifestart Foundation School and establishing even more English classes. More news to come on the new school in a future blog.
2.the HMAS Success, Royal Australian Navy came to volunteer for Lifestart.
3.Ten people from our disabled group commenced training in a variety of fields. Again more news to follow in a blog.
4. Two of our young Jobstart candidates have been accepted for training in Australia...........also worthy of a blog of their own!
5. Two more members of our disabled group are now in three wheeled motorized scooters.
My next trip will see me travel to Vietnam with Architects Without Frontiers and 20 students from RMIT Melbourne.
After several months of discussions these students are travelling to Hoi An with me to design a building for Lifestart Foundation. The building will be used as a
"Transitional Housing Project" for the " at risk "and exploited youth that Lifestart works with.
This is an exciting new project for Lifestart and I will keep you posted on it's progress.
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