Choose Joy

Christmas newsletter from the Help Vietnam Children Study Program.

Dear Friends, Sponsors of the Children in Vietnam,

Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and many wishes from the sponsored kids who share part of your life. We continue to thank you for making it possible for these kids to go to school which will help them to become better people in their society and the world at large. You have supported these kids in their education and they will forever be grateful to you all. The programme is running smoothly and although many of our sponsors are aging we still hope to continue to help these kids in their education.

Right now we have 293 kids being sponsored, 79 out this number are sponsored by the programme itself, meaning they have nobody to sponsor them. But the problem is every moment we still have so many kids knocking at our door looking for support. It hurts my heart that the programme cannot afford to help them because we don’t have anybody available to be their sponsors. Nevertheless what the programme can do to maintain those we already have we will do to make sure these kids continue their education.

This year we made two different visitations to the kids, Fr. Simon and Fr Quoc together with some students in formation. As usual we will share their visitation stories with you and some selected letters from the kids.

To end on a good note, some of these kids completed their education this year after graduating from universities and they too have promised to look for a job and adopt kids and sponsor them like they had received. We hope to get more people who are willing to sponsor more kids so that we can make a decision whether to accept more kids or not; until then they need to wait patiently.

We will be transferring the sponsorships money in January, so we ask you to send your contribution, as indicated on the financial report, in the usual way.

May God bless you and your family; bless the children and their families and all our coordinators.

Yours faithfully,

Isaac Donkor.

Fr. Simon's visit (26th-30th May)

During two weeks of waiting for Father Isaac’s decision to ask me to go to Vietnam to Visit the Poor Children in the Scholarship Program, I contacted a Vietnamese new Sponsor, who wanted to come to Hue with me to see and look for ways to help the poor children in the Scholarship Program .This Vietnamese Lady, Mrs. Phuc, is the mother of two Vietnamese brides of our Vietnamese community at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

In the morning of May 27, Mrs. Lai and I welcomed Mrs. Phuc at Hue’s Phu Bai Airport and brought her to different gathering locations of the poor children in our Spiritan Scholarship Program. I invited Mrs. Nguyen Thi Phuc to come and see the ten children of the Redemptorist Parish in Hue and other children in the Spiritan Scholarship Program. She was happy to see again a Redemptorist priest Fr. DUC, who came to her Parish to preach a few years ago. At my presence and the presence of Mrs. Lai, Mrs. Phuc immediately offered 10,000,000 VN Dong in cash to help this group of ten poor children.

In the same afternoon of May 27, Mrs. Phuc accompanied us to visit the group of children at Phuoc Vinh, An Truyen, Tan My, under the care of Mrs. Lai.

We went to A-LUOI, a gathering place of the children, under the actual care of Sister Anh, a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. After meeting more than 20 children of the Mountaineers and listening to the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Mrs. Phuc was planning to ask her friends to offer clothes and school uniforms to these poor mountaineer children. Surprisingly, after Mrs. Phuc went back to her place in Hai Phong, she contacted me and let me know she had asked her friends to offer clothes and financial aid for the uniforms to the poor children of A-LUOI. During this visit, I could not meet in person all the coordinators because of the limited time. Therefore, the Thank-you gifts were handed to Mrs. Lai to offer to the Coordinators. On May 29, we visited the 17 children of NGOC HO and HUONG HO.

Besides going to school, some of these poor children went to the field to help their parents’ agricultural work; some went to the mountain to trap birds and sell them for money. In the same afternoon of May 29, we arrived at the house of student TRAN THI NGOC. Her father was not in good health, her parents welcomed us into their very poor low-roofed house built out of dry trees and old corrugated cement pieces, where her whole family has been residing for more than 20 years. We decided to help them build a small house for living and promised to look for people to help us on that.  

Fr. Quoc's visit

In Early March and even before then, the confreres of Vietnam had interest in visiting the poor children in Hue and the surrounding province of Hue. With the presence of our scholastics back from Philippines for holiday, we decided to include them in this visit as part of their pastoral program. I was chosen to lead a group of 3 to visit Hue. In the beginning of May I contacted Fr. Cong, the primary coordinator of the Spiritan Scholarship and let him know that our group of three, two brothers and I would be visiting Hue from the 18th of May to 22th of May. Fr. Cong replied that the local students will be having exams in that week and so was not good for visit. It would prevent us from seeing the kids and knowing how there were doing. We then changed the date to 25th - 30th of May. So I and two students, Hoang and Sinh, made the journey to Hue on the 25th May. When we got to Hue, we worked with Mrs. Lai on Monday morning thus helping us to make a plan for the visit. Our plan was to visit: Mrs. Lai’s home, the Redemptorist’s, Sister Thao’s, the Sacred Heart Brothers and Father’s, Mr. Trinch’s, A-Luoi, Thanh Hoang, and Cam lo.

The first thing was to see the students, meet them in person and talk to them, and to encourage them that we are with them in their studies. As we interviewed each student, we listened to their personal story about their life and family. Taking a picture of them was part of the job. Many students were making good progress in their studies. We were happy to hear those stories. The second goal was to meet the coordinators. Thank God we had a chance to meet more coordinators than last year’s visit. At the Congregation of Our Lady of Visitation, Sister Thao handed over a list of students who had stopped school. At Fr. Cong’s place, he had two students who have also stopped.

In A-Luoi, there is an indigenous group close to the Vietnam and Laos’ border. The group used to be under Fr. Chien’s direction. On that day we came, he fed us and gave us a place to take nap. Later, he decided to pass the list of names to Sister Tra Anh of the Daughter of Immaculate Conception to take care of that group. At Mr. Trinh’s place, his group was doing well. He complained that because of a decrease in the exchange rate of Euro, the money he normally gets is not enough. Beside the reasons mentioned above, we also wanted to show our two students the kind of ministry we Spiritans are doing to help poor students to have chance to go to school. Brother Sinh (Spiritan student) was very excited because this was his first time to visit Hue. For Brother Hoang, he was less excited about the trip because he had worked with the group in Ca Mau before. He knew the process of working with children. He also had been in Hue before.

The trip to Hue was worthwhile, from the planning of the trip to the very end of it. We were happy to see the students and the coordinators; we worked together and explained things clearer than using mails. We had a good cooperation from the group’s coordinators. They took time to show us around to meet students one by one. The students were happy to see and share their stories with us. Seeing students and group coordinators in good spirit, we could not help but to be thankful and look forward to the next visit.

Fr. Simon with the Visitation Sisters, at their Kindergarten