The New Year is now well under way and it’s already shaping up to be a busy one for ACCV. Rose and I have just returned from a rather impromptu trip to Hanoi. We went primarily to deal with permit applications and other administrative matters, but it soon became so much more....
We enjoyed a lovely Christmas visit with the blind children, they are doing really well, Thanh and Hieu are happy at school and Thuong is really enjoying her IT course. They are nicely settled and thanks to Ms Lan, Brian & Dat they are well taken care of.
With each trip we look forward to seeing Quan and we wonder about his latest updates. This young man is happily re-building his life, and it’s so lovely to see. Along with his work and social life he is now enthusiastically pursuing an education. We were able to visit him at his school, ..... that was an interesting experience.
The school is housed in the absolute heart of Hanoi, during the week it is a regular high school and on weekends they accept blind students. It is the only way for them to obtain an education and as evidenced by Dat it can certainly lead to university entrance. What we didn’t realise was the absolute challenge that faces both students and teachers (aside from surviving the traffic to get there!)
In the first class we walked into we recognised ‘Ching’, one of the girls who did the massage course alongside Quan last year. We had a nice chat and she proudly told us that like Quan, she is also working full time and studying on weekends. We actually met three other students from the course, and each of them talked about their new life which included working full time in different centres, and attending school to further their education. It was a lovely bonus to see firsthand how their lives have been completely turned around.
With Dat as interpreter, we had a pleasant chat with the students, even though they face incredible challenges, they really want an education. During the conversation I noticed that some of the students had A4 black Braille boards, similar to those we provided for Quan and the other students, while others had very small, plastic versions (almost like something out of a happy meal) when I enquired as to why they didn’t have the black ones the response was a very clear ‘no money’. I then asked a young girl if I could have a look at the ‘exercise book’ she was using to record the teachers words.
My heart sank as I realised it was in fact bits of old calendars, ripped into pieces and taped together to fashion a notebook. I turned to the teacher and asked if I could have a look at a text book, I was totally unprepared for the response .... “we don’t have any textbooks’ ......
There are 68 blind students, and not one text book! – it was a year 10 chemistry class. As a teacher I cannot comprehend how you could possibly teach blind students without any classroom resources.
So the plan for ACCV 2009 – education & resources for blind students! (funding is a minor detail! )
Talking of education, we are very close to beginning our first English Language course for blind students. It is all very exciting! This will open up a whole new world for these people, including job prospects that were previously way out of their league. ACCV team members Elizabeth & Juliette have worked tirelessly with me to develop a course and curriculum of the highest standard, they are doing an incredible job!
This course will provide young blind people with everything that is available to their sighted, privileged counterparts in the private language schools, including fully certified and trained teachers, excellent teachers aides/ translators and all the required academic material .
This is the beginning of a wonderful endeavour for ACCV and with your continued support we can completely change the lives of many young blind people – Hanoi alone has 29 Blind associations.
And a little side bonus – Quan is a student in the very first English language course!