As you know, I have been doing some volunteer work for Project Indochina (PIC) here in Hoi An. One of the things I have been doing is working with Thuy on creating a new website and newsletter for them. It was as we were doing this that I came across the story of Yen and her family. Firstly I will tell you a little bit about their story (written by staff at PIC) –
Yen’s father died in Feb 2011. After that, Yen and her siblings went to live with their grandparents as their mother has a mental illness and cannot look after them by herself.
The grandparents, who are both nearly 80 years old, had Yen’s mother as well as 2 children to take care of and feed. Not long ago, Yen’s mother left, taking her youngest son with her. (They currently don’t have any idea where she is).
Yen’s grandparents are farmers and while they have land to work on, their income is not as good as some of the other farmers due to them being older and somewhat slower.
We saw the way Yen’s grandparents were teaching the children how to treat people well. They also showed us the many awards that Yen and her brother have received from school. We knew that we needed to get them back into school. When we spoke to their grandparents, they said their greatest wish was that we could help them return to school. As they are getting older, they worry that they will not be alive to see the children grow up. They believe that school it is the only way that they can help the children in long term.
Yen and her siblings are great kids. They are bright and smile all the time. They often help their grandparents with the farm work and are excellent students. We are currently looking at ways that we can make sure these children stay at school and continue their education.
As soon as I read their story I knew that I wanted to help. So I offered to sponsor the children throughout their schooling including university. I wanted their grand-parents to know that no matter what, their grand-children would get the education that they dreamed of.
Today I was fortunate enough to go and visit Yen (who is 12 years old), her brother Bao (who is 15 years old) and their grandparents. Before we went to their home I got them a school bag each plus textbooks, texta’s and other school supplies that they needed. Their home is in the middle of the rice paddies about 30 minutes outside of Hoi An. Whilst it is an incredibly poor area, it is also very beautiful. I was met at the door by 2 very shy but smiley kids and their grandparents who immediately welcomed me into their home and offered us drinks. Yen came and showed me her school report and she is doing really well and is top of her class. Yen speaks a little english but I think her shyness overcame her a little today so she didn’t say too much.
When Van told the grand-parents that I would be sponsoring the kids and making sure they had everything they needed for their education they of course were so very happy (and probably a little relieved). Yen is so committed to their education that when the area floods and they are thigh deep in mud, he would carry Yen on his shoulders through the mud to make sure that she would get to school each day. This is an 80 year old man who is so passionate about making a better life for his grand-children – I was blown away by this inspiring, loving man and his beautiful wife. That these children are loved and cared for is obvious – you can see it on their faces. They are polite, helpful, smart and gorgeous. I fell in love with them all straight away.
We chatted for a while with Van translating for me, although I do intend to learn more Vietnamese before I return next time. The grandmother then begged us to stay for lunch and while we couldn’t I did promise that when I come back next year I will definitely come for lunch.
It was then time to leave. I went to shake hands with Grandfather and I could see the appreciation in his eyes and felt it as he grabbed tightly to me hands. I then went to give Grandmother a hug and she started kissing me and squeezing me, all the time wiping away the tears from her eyes. Needless to say, there were a few in my eyes as well.
What this lovely family don’t realise is that they have given me way more than I could ever give them. I feel so blessed to be part of this family and to help these inspiring grand-parents finish what they have started for their grand-children.
I look forward to one day introducing Mark, Jake and Jordan to their new Vietnamese family too.
Enjoy the photos below…