Sunday, December 28, 2008

More than 100 Friends

The way Blue Dragon usually works with disadvantaged children in Vietnam is by making plans for the medium to long term and then providing ongoing support. We don't normally just give handouts or do 'quick fix' charity work.

But over recent months, one staff member at Blue Dragon has had a burning desire to send some help to a very poor province where poverty is rife. Images from the local media had burned an impression into his mind and he just had to do something to help.

The province is called Cao Bang; it's way up in the north along the border with China, far from the rapid development that's taking place in other parts of Vietnam. It's one of these parts of the country that tourists rarely see; it doesn't have much in the way of resources but its people somehow get by.

One of our 'old' friends, Marc Gold, was visiting us during his trip through Asia. Marc runs the 100 Friends foundation, which distributes support to many developing countries including Vietnam. When Marc and the Blue Dragon staff got together, a plan was hatched: Marc would provide the funds for a journey up to Cao Bang, where they would distribute support among students at one school.

Once they got up there, they realised that they also needed to give something to the teachers. It was Teachers' Day (a very big event in Vietnam) and quite clearly the teachers at this school could use some support themselves.

About $1000 was spent on winter coats, stationery, and other school supplies for 90 children... as well as some soccer balls, and gifts for 15 teachers. There were 5 very special cases that received attention, too, including an elderly tribal woman who lives alone and a handicapped girl who has been unable to go to school.

All up, the trip spread some cheer and left plenty of smiles on faces. It didn't solve the world's woes, but it just might have made an impression. If nothing else, the school community is left knowing that they have friends far and wide that they never even knew existed.

Some pics below...

One of the recipients clutching his bag of gifts.

This photo gives you an idea of the living conditions in the area.


1 comment:

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