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Students in Vietnam's Remote Highlands Need Our Help
By Bhavia Wagner
Ha Giang province is located in the far north of Vietnam, bordering China. It is one of the poorest areas in the country. There are 22 ethnic groups, including Hmong, Tay, Dao, and Kinh.
More than two-thirds of the area is mountainous, making transportation difficult, especially during the rainy season. There is a shortage of land suitable for cultivation. During the dry season, there is a shortage of water for daily living and food production.
Most people are subsistence farmers, growing just enough to feed themselves. They grow rice, corn, and soybeans and raise buffaloes, cows, and goats. The weather is extreme, and crops are often lost due to freezes and floods. The average annual income is about 5.4 million Vietnamese dong (about $225).
In August of 2023, the readers of The Veteran supported 31 school girls in Ha Giang province whose families are facing hardships. Your donations are helping these girls stay in school through 12th-grade graduation. Each student is given $100 each year. Most of the students chosen for support are in the 9th grade. Their teachers and the school principal select students experiencing the most significant difficulties. Girls are chosen because they are more disadvantaged than boys.
Funds are awarded through the Vietnam Women's Union, whom we have worked with since 1992. It is a grassroots agency with a reputation for impeccable honesty and integrity.
The students use the funds for school supplies, school clothes, and food for their families. More children need our help. Please consider supporting one or more students at $100 each.
A letter of thanks from a school board member:
These precious gifts help the students reduce difficulties at home and stop worrying so they can concentrate on their studies. It also creates a more vibrant learning atmosphere among students throughout the school by arousing their love for other people. It gives them examples of overcoming difficulties and rising in life. The recipients feel very lucky and proud that the program's sponsors awarded them the help.
On behalf of the school, I would like to thank with warm gratitude all of the sponsors. I wish you lots of joy, good health, happiness, and success.
Thank you very much,
Luc The Thang
Letter of thanks from a student
Note: The thank you letters from the students in the highlands will arrive after this article. The following letter is from a Ho Chi Minh City student who received your support last year when we responded to the COVID crisis.
My name is Tran Thi Thanh Ngan, and I am a student in 12th grade. Previously, I lived with my father, mother, and younger brother. My father is a builder, my mother was a worker at a company, and my younger brother is in primary school. My family situation was difficult, but very happy because we had a father and a mother. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, it took many lives of people, including our mother.
The Covid-19 took away our dearest person. We lost our mother's love, care, and protection. Now, my father has to work harder to bear all our living expenses, food, housing, and school fees. My family's life before the epidemic was difficult, but now it is even more difficult.
My father takes care of the family with a monthly income of about 7 million VND ($290). There are days when he has leg pain, cannot go to work, and cannot earn money. Many times, I see that my father cannot sleep at night because he is worried about paying the house rent, buying food, or paying school fees. I love him so much.
Today, I am very happy to receive a scholarship from the Women's Union. I was very touched when I received the scholarship because it will help me have more energy to continue my education. I will use the scholarship for my studies and will try my best to do well. My determination is to go to university so that in a few years, I can work to help my father and share his burden. I will take care of my brother on behalf of my mother. I also want to help other children who are in the same situation as me.
This scholarship is a great gift that is not only a source of material support but also a source of encouragement and spiritual consolation. Once again, I would like to thank the leaders of the Women's Union and sponsors for your great support. Thank you.
Tran Thi Thanh Ngan
Dear readers of The Veteran, kindly consider supporting one or more poor students in Vietnam at $100 each. It will be a huge help to them, and they will be forever grateful. Donations are tax-deductible. You can send your check to Friendship with Cambodia, PO Box 5231, Eugene, OR 97405. Or donate online at friendshipwithcambodia.org. Thank you!
Bhavia Wagner led friendship tours in Vietnam for Global Exchange in 1992 and 1994 and has been volunteering to help poor children in Vietnam ever since. She also works to help Cambodia and is the founder and director of Friendship with Cambodia and author of Soul Survivors: Stories of Women and Children in Cambodia.
Student hoeing the family corn field.
John Stubbs, hands out the awards to the ethnic students who are wearing their traditional clothing.
When it came time to depart for home, they quickly removed their beautiful outfits,
revealing track pants and t-shirts, and hopped onto the back of their family scooters.
Education award ceremony to ethnic minority students in Quang Binh district, Ha Giang province, Vietnam.
Pictured are students, teachers, the school principal, our representative, and staff of the Vietnam Women's Union.