It’s a little late in the school year but the Board just officially accepted 26 new students into our VNSF Scholarship program!
Generally, we interview students recommended to us by our local contacts in the 6 provinces/cities we support. However, we became aware of this particular group of kids through another donor/organization in Viet Nam, who, due to the downturn in the economy, weren’t able to continue offering financial support to these students and reached out to us for help. Our program manager made the trip to Vinh Hoa village in An Giang to interview these students, meet their families and see where they live. She was immediately moved by both their personal stories and the financial challenges their families are facing. She recommended to us very strongly to accept these students. And after reviewing all 28 applications and all the photos from the home visits, our hearts went out to these students as well. It’s always hard to say no but there were a couple of students who didn’t quite meet our acceptance criteria. We feel very grateful to have the opportunity to help some truly amazing young kids.
VNSF has been operating in An Giang for a number of years and it’s definitely one of the poorer provinces we support. It is one of the more ethnically diverse provinces in the Mekong Delta. In particular, it has a fairly large Khmer community that despite various government programs still suffers from discrimination and high poverty rates. As familiar as we are with the region, we weren’t prepared for the poverty these particular students are facing. On average, the families of the 26 students we accepted make $800 USD annually… a couple of families make less than $200 USD/year. While $1 USD can buy you a lot these days in Viet Nam, it’s hard to imagine supporting an entire family for less than $1/day.
Even though we accepted these students half way through the school year, we do plan on retroactively dispersing our scholarship to them for the Fall term. We feel terrible that for an entire semester these students felt the financial stress and uncertainty of how long they’ll be able to continue their education.
Together with you, we’re investing in the future of these children by providing them with ongoing financial support to continue their education. Our hope for these students (as well as all the students in our program) is to do whatever small part we can to ease their financial burden so they don’t have to worry from year to year whether their families can afford to send them to school.
We’re grateful to donors, volunteers, supporters like you who make it possible for these bright students to dream big and find success and happiness through education.