Friday, June 10, 2011

School's out

The school year has ended here in Vietnam, and at Blue Dragon we like to celebrate our kids completing each year of school.

Last weekend we held the 'Closing Ceremony' for all the kids we support out in Bac Ninh province. These kids are part of a program we call Stay In School, because that's exactly what we help them to do: stay in school!

Bac Ninh is a rural province, not far from Hanoi but with a significant problem of students dropping out of school and subsequently being trafficked for labour exploitation. I once spoke to a truck driver who told me how much money he could make by transporting children aged under 16 to Ho Chi Minh City to work in factories. The bounty back then was about $25 per child.

We started helping kids in this area back in 2004. At first we were supporting just 75 children, mostly girls (as they are at higher risk than boys of dropping out of school). These days, we are helping close to 600, and our sponsors around the world pay for their uniforms, school fees, health insurance, books and stationery.

Our sponsorship system ensures that we help not only the individual children we've identified as needing support, but also the entire school. The students we support are spread across over 25 schools, from Grades 5 through to 12. So far we've built 2 libraries and provided desks, teaching equipment, and a whole range of supplies that the whole school community can benefit from. Next on our list is to build toilet blocks in one of the primary schools... and we're starting to offer university scholarships to the year 12 graduates, too.

At the end of the day, it's the kids who are most important, so last Sunday we took the opportunity to congratulate them for their success. Because there are so many kids, we held 2 ceremonies - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There was some singing and dancing, a few games on the stage, and of course gifts for everyone.

Holding an event like this shows the kids how important we think their success is. Those who did particularly well at school received a special certificate, but regardless of how they went everyone received some gifts to take home.

The 'Closing Ceremony' is a simple affair - well, as simple as an event for 590 children and teens can be - but it's an important way for us to acknowledge that the kids can and do succeed at school, in spite of whatever difficulties they may have in life.

Kids arriving for the Ceremony...

The community hall is packed!

These are the kids who did particularly well at school.
Each receives a certificate and extra gift from us.

The kids love to get up and sing!


Anonymous said...

It is exicited to see more kids joined the program. God bless everyone.


Anonymous said...

I hope these kids will be engineers, doctors, teachers in the future and will play an important role in society. Wish the best things for kids and BDCF. God bless you.