Thursday, May 27, 2010

Amongst friends....

Marc, Grace and Nat from the 100 friends project stopped by the office to say hello while they were in town.

A few of the students happened to be there for some one on one tutoring.

They were delighted to take a break to enjoy a social gathering and practise their English.
As usual Ms Chau was a wonderful host and soon made everyone feel very welcome and at home.

It didn't take long for the students to treat their guests to an impromptu massage. They love to show off their skills (and they are pretty skilled).

As you can see from this fabulous photo - a great time was had by all.

The students had a wonderful time with their new friends. It turned into a bit of a party by all accounts. Days later they are still talking about it.

Thanks so much for stopping by - wish we had  been there too :)

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stepping out in style....

It's lovely to see the students embracing their new lives, they have quite a nice social life and circle of friends now.

And they really enjoy getting dressed up and heading out for special occasions :-)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

And dreams emerge....

A constant source of delight in doing this work is being able to observe the drastic changes that take place in the lives of people who are given an opportunity.  It never ceases to amaze me.
I would like to introduce you to Hong (pronounced Hom). She's a delightful young lady, well she’d have to be with a name like Hong .... translated into English her name means Rose :)

Hong became blind as a result of poverty and  a minor accident when she was 14 years old. She had a stone in her eye, and due to a lack of medicines, infection took hold, blindness was the result. Hideous. 
When we first met Hong in 2007, she was very withdrawn, not unlike many of the young blind students we work with. She became  a student in that very first Braille and massage course we put together for Quan. To say this young Rose has blossomed is honestly an understatement.
Back in 2007 Hong was very excited at the prospect of  attending classes and learning Braille and massage. Like many young blind people we’ve met, she had spent very long days at home, doing nothing.  Suddenly her world had opened up. 
 Along with learning massage and Braille, Hong  also developed a social life, friendships, shared interests and dreams. Like most young ladies she also has a great interest in fashion, and is quite the glamour girl when the occasion suits, including the occasional fashion accessory of a pair of glasses! 
 It really has been a privilege getting to know Hong. She is alot of fun, a wonderful singer and she has emerged as a very strong student, often leading the class with her work ethic and results.
 Recently a seminar was put together with government officials, educators, ACCV staff members and other community groups. Thinking back to the shy, withdrawn young lady I met a few years ago. I can’t tell you how proud I was to sit back and listen to Hong stand up and give an amazing speech about the importance of education for blind people and how it has impacted her life.
 Like Quan, Hong has now returned to mainstream education on a weekend. She attends  the same high school that accepts blind students on the weekend. She is currently studying a compacted high school course, she intends to go to university.
Hong has really embraced the opportunities that have come her way. In recent times she has mentioned that she would like to become a lawyer. I have no doubt she’ll reach her goals. 
                  We’re certainly happy to help her along the way....

This is a clear indication of how your donations help change lives.

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Many things we love about Hanoi....

It's hard to believe that we are now coming up for trip number fifteen. As you know we fund all travel expenses ourselves, but I can honestly say it's worth every cent.  Our programmes and students are really coming along so well. And we do have a few other perks with each trip.

We'd like to share a few of the wonderful things we get to enjoy in Hanoi...

                  Bicycle florists are one of our favourite sights...

       This is actually a mosaic of tiny little tiles... it goes for miles!

We're sometimes  treated to a home cooked banquet...

                    Many beautiful lakes throughout the city...

   Hoan Kiem Lake is a tranquil oasis in the very heart of busy Hanoi

                      Even the traffic is interesting......

       And then of course there are the people.....

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

Friday, May 14, 2010

International Day of Families....

The United Nations General Assembly, proclaimed that the 15th of May of every year shall be observed as the International Day of Families...
We work with a number of families, and like families all over the world, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Little Tuan & his grandmother, Thao, her mother & aunt, Cong & his mother, the Pham siblings…. Many of the families we help have been fractured in one way or another. Parents have died, absconded, become ill, been incarcerated, sometimes all of the above... 

And sometimes we work with a nuclear family, Mum, Dad and the two kids....
We are currently supporting a lovely such family. Dad is unable to work due to severe health problems, including blindness. Mum works out of town for a very small amount of money, and the two kids… well they are certainly giving it their best shot….
Hiền & Phuong have inherited the same condition that has caused their fathers blindness. Hiền is legally blind, she has a very small window of sight the size of a straw opening. Only if she holds an item directly in front of her eye can she see it.
Although their lives are very challenging, Hiền and Phuong are both excellent students and determined to get a good education. Hiền is now doing very well studying business at Hanoi Open University. ACCV is funding her university education and she is also a student in our English Language Training Course. Hiền feels very worried for her parents and herself, so she is also working as massage therapist to earn about $60.00 per month to reduce the family difficulties.
Hiền’s younger brother Phương unfortunately suffers with the same medical condition. ACCV is helping him to study at a high school that accepts blind students.  He's working very hard at the moment, studying for final exams that he hopes will gain him entrance into University.  
Toan works closely with Hien & Phuong and their family to make sure they are doing okay. ACCV is more than happy to help them with school fee and supplies. These young people and their family are working very hard to lead the way for change for disabled people in the community. 

Without our support they could not continue to study, higher educational would be completely out of their league. 

And without your support we could not offer to help them.
Thank you!

No matter where you are, or what shape or size your family is, we wish you all the very best.

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reflections on Motherhood...

I was asked to speak at a Mothers day tribute service this morning. My speech was to be about instilling values in our children. 
 Here it is…. 
Mothers across the globe share the fundamental basics that being a mother brings. We enjoy many gifts and we face many challenges, including the challenge of instilling values in our children. Values strong enough to sustain them throughout their lives, values that contribute to the community, and are passed down through the generations.
My own mother instilled very strong values in me and my siblings. In particular she instilled the value of hard work,  determination, empathy and compassion.
My mother was a woman ahead of her time. She taught all seven of her children to work hard, to view obstacles in life as simple challenges to be overcome. And she taught us to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. She worked full time & raised seven children, in an era when women didn’t work. Like most mothers, she taught by example. 

She was a wonderful role model.

My mother taught me to have compassion for others. Even when she struggled to feed her own seven children, she would further divide what was on our table for the extra children who came to our door.  She taught us that there was always a solution to a problem, we just had to work hard to find it.
I look at my own children with great pride at the people they have become. I give thanks that they have strong values and they live their lives with integrity. I also give thanks that we live in a community that can provide our children with the necessities of life and the luxury of a sound education. 

In Vietnam, we have met many mothers who cannot offer their children the basics in life. Education is totally outside of their means, even providing their children with food or medical care is often a challenge. 

And yet, as her heart breaks for the plight of her child, she works hard to raise them with strong values.

As Quan slowly went blind due to a lack of medicines for a childhood illness, his poverty stricken mother refused offers of assistance for herself, suggesting they be given to those more in need. She taught Quan the value of empathy and compassion.  

As Quan struggled to overcome the challenges in his life, his mother stood back and let him struggle. She taught him the value of determination and perseverance. 

As she celebrated his achievements, she taught him the value of hard work.  

Thao and her mother would forage through rubbish, looking for items they could sell or recycle. Sometimes they would go days without food.  Thao’s very ill mother would encourage her to work hard, to focus on her schoolwork and to never give up on her dream of being a doctor. 

Her mother taught her well, we are now supporting Thao through medical school. 

I admire these gracious mothers, they are kind, honest and hard working, as are the children they have raised.   
While we don’t have the fear that our children will go hungry, or go blind due to a lack of medical care, we have different concerns. 

With abundance comes other challenges. Technology is a huge part of our children’s world. They are exposed to so many things that impact their lives. We have stiff competition when it comes to instilling values in our children! 
We must work together as a community to teach our children what is right. We must teach them to avoid a sense of entitlement and to be considerate of others.  We must teach them to work hard for their achievements. 

The old adage  “it takes a village to raise a child” is very true.
Today is Mothers day, a day set aside to honour and appreciate our mothers.  

This morning I thought of my mother, I also thought of Quan  and Thao’s mothers, and all other mothers out there. Some of them poverty stricken, with very real fears and concerns for their child’s future. Some of them mothers to other generations and some of them enjoying their very first mothers day. 
But all of them influencing and instilling values in those who will follow…

Kind regards
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)

Monday, May 3, 2010

All in a days work......

I have previously mentioned Toan, our young staff member who has been with us for a year now.  Here's a fine example of what a great job he's doing...

We have a young friend of ours, I'll call him 'Cong" who we heard was having serious difficulties, which included not going to school, and not having enough to eat. 

With some help from a good friend of ACCV, it didn't take us long to locate Cong. Toan went to visit the family to see if everything was okay and to find out why Cong wasn't at school, or eating properly.

Rose and I also went to visit Cong & his mother and we were appalled at the squalor they are living in. But that's another story....  Cong's mother is extremely poor, she sells a little bit of fruit on the streets or she occasionally cleans house for her neighbours. In recent times this has become impossible.

Cong's mother was in very bad shape. Squashed amongst the rubbish, she was in agony as a result of 'tumours' behind her knees. She could barely walk, let alone go out and try to make a living. She needed to have surgery on both legs but they had no income at all. No income means that  medical aide is out of the question, and so are school fees, and even food.

At least we had got to the bottom of Cong's situation. Toan single handedly organised food supplies, hospital visits, medicines & everything else it took to address this urgent situation. Cong's home is at the end of an alley, so it was no mean feat. Toan actually carried this lady quite a distance to the road where they could put her into a taxi to take her to and from the hospital.

The surgery went very well and Cong's mother is now on the road to recovery. She is in full leg braces for a little while and still requiring some post operative TLC. Toan is still on hand making sure medicines and food supplies are purchased and delivered.

Toan wants to be a social worker when he's older. He's doing a wonderful job in his chosen field already.

We're very lucky to have him on the ACCV team.

Kind regards 
Alison & Rose

(please drop us a quick email so we can acknowledge your kindness)