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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

An education safety-net for children in Vietnam

Thirteen-year-old Mung is from an ethnic minority group and was born in one of the poorest villages in Kim Boi district in rural Vietnam.

Sadly her father passed away when she was young. Mung`s mother has a disability and is unable to work. She struggles to provide for Mung`s needs with the USD13 she receives from the government each month.

“When I get home from school, I feed the pigs, clean the house and cook for my mum to help her,” says Mung.

Mung`s uncle tries to support Mung and her mother as well as his own wife and two children. His rice fields produce enough rice to feed the family and pay for their basic daily expenses. But if a crop fails, they will be hungry for several months.

Mung has just completed grade seven. She has a passion for learning and is a good student, despite having to borrow school books from her friends in order to follow the lessons. Her house is 7km from school. It often took Mung and her cousin two hours to walk to school each day.

“I used to have to leave [home] at 5am to be at class on time. It was so dark and freezing,” she says.

ChildFund identified Mung as being at great risk of dropping out of school due to her family`s poor financial situation. To help support her education, Mung was among 200 children in her village who received a bicycle in 2013 so they could get to school more safely and easily, as part of ChildFund Vietnam`s Hope Bike project. She was also enrolled in a project designed to offer support to families struggling to provide for their children`s school needs.

“Children who can easily quit school because of a poor financial situation are a real problem, which ChildFund in Vietnam has encountered when implementing education projects. This support project enables us to help children while our (self-sufficiency) programs take more time to come into effect,” says Mr. Nguyen Ba Lieu, ChildFund Vietnam`s Program Team leader.

Through the project, Mung receives stationary and clothing for school, her fees are covered by direct transfer to her school and she receives a daily meal of rice, to ensure her dietary needs are met.

“ChildFund`s support has helped to reduce the burden on my uncle. He has been really tired taking care of the two families. Now he doesn`t have to worry about the expense to send me to school. I am provided with tuition fees, course books, a desk and lamps to study at home. I also get rice for meals every month. I feel like I am getting closer to my dream.”

Despite her challenges, Mung always tries her best to study hard and her efforts are showing. She recently took part in a mathematics competition in her district and received an €˜encouragement award`. Everyone in the commune is proud of her.

“I would like to become a teacher in the future to earn enough money to support my mum,” says Mung. “My goal next school year is to improve my result in Vietnamese. Any teacher should be good at Vietnamese in order to convey what she means to her students.”

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