In July 2012, I had the honour of attending the International Conference for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation in Vietnam, it was only our second one. With my colleagues from the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, France, Vietnam and Mongolia, we spent 5 days creating a global strategy for the organisation…
On the days directly after the conference, we also had the opportunity to spend quality time with each of the departments in our Vietnam operational office really getting a great understanding of each of the programs we run there. We covered the Child Sponsorship Team, Medical Assistance Program, Education Assistance Program, Arts, Music & Sports, Finance and the Volunteer & Schools Program.
The most incredible part of this trip was heading out 'in the field' on a regional project visit to the Mekong Delta with our Capital Projects Team to review some projects underway as well at look at some new proposed projects.
Our Capital Projects Program focuses on providing long-term solutions towards the educational andhealthcare requirements and needs of children living in the poor areas of Ben Tre, Ca Mau,Binh Duong, Dong Thap, Kien Giang, Lam Dong, Tay Ninh, Vinh Long Provinces andHo Chi Minh City. Our Capital Projects Team look after programs such as the building of Kindergartens, Medical Stations, Vocational Centres, Clean Water Systems and even footbridges.
Kindergartens play a vital role in ensuring care and education opportunities for pre-schoolage children to prepare them for their future education. In Vietnam, universal access to basic health and education services is provided but in reality poverty and disparities between urban and rural areas make access difficult or in some cases not possible, even for those poor living in parts of the country that are experiencing rapid growth. There is nearly no assistance from the Central Government for kindergarten construction, leaving each individual province on their own to fund such construction from within their own budget.
69% of Vietnam’s population lives in rural areas and experience approximately 3 times more income poverty at 17.4% compared to the urban average of 6.9%.
In the Vinh Long Province:
- 64.91% do not have access to clean drinking water
- 94.91% have inadequate sanitation
- 78.61% have below acceptable standards of toilets
- 16% of children between 6 and 18 are not enrolled into school
- 32.23% are living in temporary housing
Binh Ninh Commune currently has a three-classroom kindergarten in An Thanh A Hamlet where the majority of children study. The rest make do in a number of make shift classrooms in local primary schools or private residences in three different hamlets. This kindergarten currently accommodates around 150 children aged 3-5. In order to do so however the kindergarten is forced to divide the children into 5 classes spread over the day/week. Even so, this does little to meet the ever increasing demand for preschool facilities. More classes have been expanded into, often rundown and unsafe buildings within the commune.
In An Hoa Hamlet, 55 children are studyingin a seriously rundown small room made available to them from the abandoned Binh Ninh B Primary School. This is the Kim Dong Kindergarten. Built near to a river, the makeshift kindergarten is often subject to seasonal flooding. Most of the interiors have become worn out and deteriorated. The roof leaks during the rainy season, causing excessive humidity inside the room. It is also very hot in the summer as there is no heatproof ceiling. Due to a lack of financial resources it has never been properly maintained or upgraded.
The management of Kim Dong Kindergarten currently holds 2 classes per day for 55 children at this location. 31 other children living in the commune are forced to attend kindergarten in neighbouring communes often several kilometres away. During the rainy season the dirt roads become muddy and dangerous to travel on, often leaving parents hesitant to send their children to school. Many children in Binh Ninh Commune stay home. For those fortunate enough to have a place in kindergarten they lack normal facilities such as playground equipment and quality classroom materials and teaching aids.
The proposed kindergarten will be constructed on an area of 1,462 square metres and be comprised of three classrooms (90 square metres per room, inclusive of toilet areas), corridors, electricity and plumbing. It is expected to solve the shortage of classrooms for 100% of the children aged 5, 80% of the children aged 3-4, and 10-15% of nursery-aged children from 4 hamlets (An Hoa, An Hoa 1, An Thanh and An Phu).
From initial surveys, the following benefits have also been identified:
For the children:
- Spacious and decent classrooms for study and play
- Proper preparation for primary school
- Reduces the risk of injuries or death that unattended children may suffer
- Water supply and new toilets to promote hand washing and sanitary practices
- Better opportunities to monitor the children’s health
- Increase the educational standard of the whole community over time
- Allow both parents to work thereby improving the living conditions of families
- Provide access to health and nutritional education
- Create employment opportunities in the region
- Increased opportunities for local officials to enhance project management skills in order to develop further initiatives on their own in the future.
CNCF Australia has made a commitment to fund 35% of this project which is the equivelant of $USD43,000. The rest of the funds will be provided by the local government. Construction will commence in April and will take several months.
If you would like to find out how you can help us support this project through donations, participating in Charity Challenges or holding your own small fundraising event, please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org