Vietnam School Tours
Open their eyes. Change their life.
June 24, 2020
Most people know Hue as the former capital of Vietnam. But for a small group of young girls who travelled on an educational tour of Vietnam, Hue now holds a special place in their heart.
On 20th Jan 2020, 18 students, 2 staff and the school principal of MCC laid the foundations for two classrooms in Co Thap village in the outskirts of Hue. Every year an eager and willing group of young girls travel on a school trip to Vietnam where they dedicated three days to a community-building project.
Co Thap is a small village approximately 30km from the centre of Hue. With a population of just under 1000 people, the children in this area are often forgotten about, as parents are busy working on the farms.
I had met Fr Kha, a Catholic priest a few years ago and was taken by his dedication and love for the people in the area. Over a cup of tea, he reminisced about his upbringing, which was tough yet happy. As both his parents worked on the farm he was often left at home from a very young age to look after his five younger siblings, looking back now he realizes the dangers which this poses but more importantly it was feeding the cycle of poverty.
Now working as a priest, Fr Kha is determined to help make a difference. Seeing each child as a seed of potential, he wants to give these children who are not fortunate enough to live in big cities the same opportunity to education as their city peers. He knows this is the only way for these children to get out of the only life they have ever known; a life on the farm, working each day for very little money.
Working together with Vietnam School Tours, the plan was to build two classrooms within the church grounds. The rooms would be used for English and tutoring lessons after school hours, on weekends and during the 3 month summer break. The lessons would be free and available to all the children within the community. This would give local students the knowledge and confidence to finish school and apply for university, helping break the cycle of poverty.
More importantly, the classrooms would provide a safe space for the children sometimes as young as 5, who are often left alone at home. It would be a space where they can feel safe, have a sense of community and would be allowed to just ‘be children’.
Hearing about this project, I immediately thought of the students from MCC, who had just completed a similar project the previous year. Over the three days, students and staff worked tirelessly, motivated by their plight, nothing was too hard or an issue.
I was lucky enough to join the group on the first day of their service work, and I have never been so proud to call myself an Aussie. Over lunch, the girls explained how the whole school had been involved in Mercy Week, which was a week of fundraising to raise money for many causes, one of which is the building of the classrooms in Vietnam.
The fundraising had included a variety of activities from a Fashion Parade to an International Lunch. As it was a whole school event, it allowed the entire school to be involved in such a wonderful cause.
Over the three days, the girls worked in near 30-degree heat on a variety of tasks from mixing mortar to bricklaying to carrying and pouring sand for the foundation. Many of the girls were themselves proud of their abilities and accomplishments – overall, it was such a great effort by a whole school community, an amazing group of girls and 3 wonderful teachers!