When this letter is on the way coming to you, it is also the time you are busy preparing to welcome Christmas Season. We hope this letter brings with it both the best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and the developing information of SOS-Children’s Village Haiphong in the year 2009.
A warm roof for orphaned children
Comings and goings, it happens every year to the village that has over 13 running years. This year, 14 children from three to 10 years old come with us, raising the number of children that we are caring and managing to 232 children and adolescents. Sometimes, the big children come back home finding their families have more new small children. The small ones are surprised finding their families are so crowded, besides the bothers and sisters at their homes; there are also the big ones that they have never met before. Moreover, they show their gladness to receive the love, the care and also the gifts from the big brothers and sisters on their birthdays or even on the coming back of the big ones. The gifts are only some cakes or fruits but it brings much meaning with it, they are eating while talking altogether happily. How busy the big ones are, they still visit their families at least once or twice a year on New Year or summer holiday or whenever they can.
Efforts into studies to have a better life in the future
Every morning, group by group at various of age call each other going to school, they go to school while talking joyfully. After that time, the village becomes so quiet as it has never have children here.
In the 2009-2010 academic year, 141 children are from the first to the 12th form besides 47 others who are studying in the universities, colleges and vocational training schools. In general view, their result is getting better thanks to the encouragement of mothers, educators and the enthusiasm guidance of teachers at school time and volunteer students in the evenings. To mothers, doing all the day to see the meal for 9 to 11 children and doing many the housework chores seem not to be as hard as 2 hours learning with children in the evening. The mothers have to learn with children patiently. Special to primary children, they are very active, they are learning while playing. The first class children still keep the old habits from the nursery age, they prefer colouring and singing to sitting in one place with letters and numbers, reading and writing. It is better to secondary school children; most of them are well aware of the role of learning to their later life. They love school and take part in extracurricular activities actively. However, learning is still the big pressure to some of them. We pay much attention to encourage and support these children in study. We high appreciate their try as we know their ability is limited.
Only three of 13 children who finished secondary school enter universities this year, they are studying in the pedagogy, construction and engine in ship machine branches. The rest ones are learning to become accountant, electrician, mechanic and cargo-ship skipper in the high schools. They are gradually integrating to the new environment and getting new friends outside. There was one 10th form child giving up her study at secondary school to take part in the job course. Luckily, she is good at painting so it is not so difficult for her to learn in a pottery producing company. Her work is painting directly to the pottery and she feels please with this work. May be, that is her right choice for her future.
Internal and external activities
Resent years, besides the inside activities that have been taking place in our village for over 13 years we concentrate on the outside activities for children. Visit army museum where they more comprehended about our history, camping with students of deaf and blind schools to share with their difficult in the life. And special, twenty secondary school children had one day to visit the fishing village – where was 30 km far from our village. It was a village that they caught fish with a net for their living; their life was so hard and poor. Generation to generation lived in a small boat – their life was within in a small wasteland near the small river that was far from residential quarter. Our children had a nice time to play with children there, they reading, singing and playing games altogether. They also gave some school things to them. When saying goodbye, our children thought they would come back in the next summer.
Every year on International Children’s Day (June 1st ), we hold a singing and dancing performance to give awards to children who have gained much success in studying during school year and in activities that took place in the village such as chess, football, painting …. as well as their improvements in life.
Moon Cake festival is traditional festival of Vietnam where small children return with fairy tales about the Moon and the Sky. They enjoyed themselves and played with traditional toys, watched dragon dancing – we often had two dragon dancing groups, they went house by house to dance - and deal out a mid autumn festival cakes and fruits under the moonlight of middle autumn night.
The footsteps in life
In this Newsletter we would like to tell an account about a girl in our village. In the first years of life, everyone has the first footsteps with the help of their mother. For Pham, she was not so lucky, her mother was died when she was a baby, she stepped her first footsteps by herself. They were wandering and unsettled footsteps. They had both the bitters when she came to live with her uncle and the sweets when she came back to live with her father. Nevertheless, there was an important footstep of her life; the footstep helped her to have a mother, to have all the things she thirsted for that she had never thought about. Thank to that footstep, she was able to call the word ‘Mom’ for the first time of her life.
Her mother was not a beautiful woman but she was very rich: rich of the humane, of altruism. She came with her mother in a shape of a poor child, poor both in money and in emotion. She looked back to see how she had changed. Her mother herself led her future footsteps. She was able to cry, to confide with her mother. Her mother always listened with all her ears, understood thoroughly, advice and had never forbidden. She was a normal mother like so many mothers outside, a mother with many children, a mother thought about the future of her children everyday.
She is not a little girl to be in her mother’s arms anymore. She moved out to study outside the village. She has new footsteps, the footsteps to enter an independent life. Although it is the footsteps far away from her mother but they are very stable and clear direction. They are not lonely footsteps in the bygone days. She feels palpitated and longs for coming back home and she is tormented by a deep longing her home. Whenever she calls home, she has more willing to continue the footsteps to her future thank to her mother’s encouragement.
One more year passed, more grown up adolescents enter the independent life. How grateful we are to see our children grown up and integrate well into outside life every year. Up to now, 38 adolescents are semi-independent who are working outside and 11 married youths have stable life with their new families. Whether they are semi-independent or independent adolescents, they have good contact with their SOS families. This year, we were busy to celebrate three weddings for three girls. The weddings were celebrated solemnly to give the good impression on their important day of their life.
In October, one of our girls flied to study in Luxembourg. She is studying to become a hotel and restaurant manager. She won the third Asian prize in the competition in the field that she is studying and receives scholarship to study one year in Luxembourg. Four years ago, one of our boys was chosen to study in Korea. He came back home after three studying and working years there at the beginning of this year. He has a good life beside his wife now.
The work is good to nearly all of them although their new jobs cannot offer them high salary; they manage to settle their own lives. However, some men are not patient with what they have learnt, they change to the service and business fields. It seems not to be good to some of them because they are lacking of experience, the knowledge in business has not been rich yet so the success has not come with them yet.
It has over 10 running years, the SOS Nursery has been carrying out its duties in a very proficiently status. Right from the beginning, the nursery has been trusted by children’s parents thank to the quality of teaching as well as the devotion of teachers to children. Moreover, the nursery is located in the village with a wide and green campus, a fresh atmosphere with many trees and plants that is good for different outdoor activities as well as develops consciousness about around environment and necessary skills of children. It is the reason why the number of children is always higher than the capacity of the school. This year, the school has 220 children at the age of 3, 4 and 5 years old.
They are able to stay at school from 7 a.m to 5 p.m. At school, the children learn to sing, to dance, to colour and paint, to play games and free play, they also learn letters, numbers and many other skills that children at their age need to have.
Once again we want to express our most heartfelt thanks to you for supporting us in every aspect. We thank you for your continuous concern for our common cause of bringing the best to our children. Yours sincerely,
Đỗ Tắc Bé
SOS Children’s Village Hải Phòng