Vietnam Report – Fall 2017
TCI has been working in Catdang, Vietnam since 1991, in one iteration or another. We started out by running electricity to a cluster of very poor villages, building water tanks, providing water filters and piping clean water, and a host of other community improvements. Since we officially became TCI twelve years ago we have worked to honor our mission statement: “Improving children’s lives through strategic long-term investments in community-based projects and programs.” We do this in Vietnam, as we do in other countries, by building schools and satellite programs. Here is short list of what we have accomplished in the last eight years:
- Built three new kindergarten schools with beds, kitchens, toys, etc. These schools serve over 400 children and are already overcrowded.
- Built the Catdang Middle School library, which serves as the nexus for our 800 students: movies, dances, reading competitions as well as special celebrations such as Women’s Day. The library is well stocked with books, audio visual equipment, games, etc.
- Provided 122 full scholarships to the neediest children over the past 6 years.
- Lent 25 “micro-lending grants” to the poorest parents of CMS students, with an additional grant being given each year. This money, $400 per grant, has been hugely successful in bringing wealth into the community.
- Built a d teacher/administration building at CMS.
- Provided deworming services for all of the CMS students twice per year.
- Made a series of smaller donations on an as-needed basis: water filters, books, cd players, etc.
Our most recent exciting news is our partnership with Choice, a student social service organization from Cambridge University in Hong Kong. For three years, undergraduates have visited Catdang “in force.” They have assisted the English teachers and taught classes, as well as programs as disparate as swimming and public speaking. Choice has been most generous each year in raising money for the school. This year they have made a substantial contribution to buy CD players for the English program, but also to provide money for the English teachers to receive extra training in speaking the language program. Last year they funded a second library. We couldn’t be more pleased to have these young people assisting us while learning so much about challenges inherent to the developing world. They have been much beloved by our teachers and students!
This winter I’ll travel to Vietnam to assess “what’s next.” Over the past 26 years we have formed a lasting relationship with the local politicians, administrators, and teachers. And while Catdang is unrecognizable from the near-starvation faced in the early 90’s, rural poverty in Vietnam is a grim reality, especially with such a burgeoning young population. TCI, in coordination with its partners, sponsors, and donors will continue to give a little “wind to the back” of the students at CMS, and the community at large, into the foreseeable future.
– Charlie Miller