The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to the the LIN Center for Community Development in Vietnam.
Admittedly, I didn't know at first what "Narrow the Gap" meant. It became clear after my visit with LIN to one of its recipients of the Narrow the Gap grant funds, along with a visit to its Center for Community Development. The LIN Center is helping to narrow the gap between disadvantaged people in Vietnam receiving the services and support that they desperately need to survive and become self-reliant. Its doing so by granting technical and monetary support to nonprofits that are providing these important services. Selected by the community to receive LIN’s support, the recipients of the Narrow the Gap funds also receive trainings from LIN’s staff on effective programming and nonprofit leadership.
The Nhan Ai Social Work Club offers tutoring, skills training, and community events to disadvantaged children in an area of deep poverty in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Trained volunteers from a local university come each week to work with the children. During the visit, I understood why the volunteers undergo training or come from the Social Work department at the university. The children often need more specialized attention. To work well with the children and have an impact requires a strong understanding of where the children come from and what motivates them. The consistency for these children is important. In addition to tutoring and mentoring, the club also has two events planned within the grant for the children to have a brief relief from the realities they face at home.
As I watched most of the children engaged in asking questions to the tutors or working with one another on their homework, I felt that the community supporters of the Narrow the Gap program made a strong selection. Started by university students, the Nhan Ai Social Work Club is just starting to increase its support to the community children. The club is also serving as a strong model of social good for university peers and the next generations. They even encouraged me to realize that we shouldn’t wait to make a difference when there’s so much that we collectively can do to help now, regardless of your age or income-level.
After my visit, it was clear that LIN’s strong focus on providing non-profits with increased access, trainings, collaboration opportunities, and funding is serving many functions to “narrow the gap” within Vietnam. Not only are they providing opportunities for the non-profits, but through capacity building, community networking, and monetary support they are also improving how impactful the non-profits are in supporting and improving the people and communities they serve.
Upcoming Event on GlobalGiving - TODAY, this Wednesday, July 16th, is a Bonus matching day!:
Today, July 16th (Wednesday), beginning at 9AM EDT, GlobalGiving will match 40% of any donations (of up to $1,000 from any individual donor) to LIN. There are $130,000 in total funds available for matching that day for all of GlobalGiving’s partners. To ensure your donation is matched before the funds run out, please consider donating early today shortly after 9AM.
I want to thank the LIN Center for Community Development for allowing me to visit!
On June 8th, 2014, LIN and three Narrow the Gap Community Fund supporters met with the Director of the Nhan Ai Social Work Club, which received a grant of 100 million Vietnam Dong (about USD $4,700) to offer tutoring, personality skills training, psychological consultations and life orientation for children from slum areas of HCMC from October 2013 through September 2014. The meeting was scheduled immediately following one of Nhan Ai Club’s big events.
The event was designed as a belated celebration of International Children’s Day (1st of June) and offered an opportunity for club members and volunteers to provide life-orientation for the disadvantaged children they support. The purpose of the meeting between Narrow the Gap supporters and Nhan Ai was to learn how the funded project is being implemented; to share successes, challenges and lessons learned; and to identify areas where further help may be needed.
According to their interrim report, Nhan Ai said they completed 50% of the project, including: purchase educational supplies and a bookshelf with books for students, awards for outstanding volunteers, organization of Mid-Autumn, Christmas and Tet events for the children, training for volunteers on the necessary skills to live and work with disadvantaged children, organization of two outdoor activities – one in Gia Dinh and another in Cau Muoi park; and the most recent field trip and event for children (which took place the same day as the meeting).
Through this project, Nhan Ai Social Club had a chance to engage and collaborate with the headmaster of the Ho Chi Minh Pedagogical University and professors in education, which helped them to solve two big challenges, including: (1) a sudden loss of venue when one partner changed their mind about hosting Nhan Ai's tutoring sessions; and (2) identifying trainers for volunteers that did not have much experience workign with disadvantaged youth.
According to the head of the Club, Mr. Trung: “The tutoring sessions are offered by students from the University of Pedagogy. They offer two kinds of classes: one for the children who must work; and the other for children who are able to attend school. The classes are designed to improve knowledge, check understanding and create opportunities for the children to learn better at school”.
Although the group has had problems in contacting with local government, largely due to the fact that they are volunteer led and did not have a clear understanding about how the justice system works, Nhan Ai Social Club already managed to: help two children enroll into the public education system.
In evaluating the club’s project proposal, Mr. Le Manh Tan, one of the Narrow the Gap donors who joined the meeting stated, “I think this project has a very interesting idea that is teaching everyday living skills and providing emotional support for children with special needs… this is a very good cause […] I congratulate Nhan Ai on their effort, what they are doing is very honorable and meaningful. I admire the effort that Nhan Ai is making.”
[On 9 April, LIN accompanied Charissa Murphy, a Global Giving Volunteer, to one of Nhan Ai's tutoring sessions. The tutoring sessions take place every night of the work week at a Pagoda in Binh Thanh District. We met several university students who were helping 15 or so disadvantaged students, ranging from 10 to 14, with their school work. While they were working with the students, we talked with some of the Nhan Ai team, including the Club Head and two members of the development team. When talking about their future goals, one member said, "Before we just thought of ourselves as a club, but now we would like to opportunity to grow and improve the organization. They are many clubs that are doing charity work or short-term activities. They do not stay dedicated to their work like we do. However, we do not have a strategic plan or sustainable organization. We hope to build that in this year and the year to come."]
ARE YOU READY TO PACK YOUR LUNCH AGAIN?
Remember when we asked you to pack your lunch for children? Well, this time, we would like to ask you to pack your lunch to help us Narrow the Gap in Access to EDUCATION!
Details about our new campaign can be found on the following website:
We also set up a new project page on GlobalGiving and you can access it here:
Last month, Vinh, Nhi and Linh shared their ideas for overcoming barriers to a quality education. Today, we are asking you - and other friends and supporters - to pack a lunch, at least once during the month of June, and donate your savings to LIN's Narrow the Gap Community Fund, so we can invest, together, in great ideas! And post a photo of you making/eating/posing by your homemade lunch right on our facebook or your facebook (use hashtag #linnarrowthegap) to let the world see its lunch heroes.
An anonymous donor is tripling every donation made towards this campaign, up to VND 1 billion. LIN's goal is to raise VND 300 million (about USD $15,000) by mid-August, which would give us over VND 1.2 billion to invest in projects that improve access to education in Ho Chi Minh City.
Whether you donate 50,000 dong (USD $3) or 10 million dong (USD $500 dollars), you automatically become an equal partner in this campaign - your name will be recognized on our website and you will help determine which projects get funded.
Will you pack your lunch with us today?
On 28 February 2014, LIN organized a site visit to The Center for Multilanguage Database Kim Tu Dien, which won 3rd Place (and a grant of VND 50 million) during the Narrow the Gap Community Event 2013: Focus on Children. Kim Tu Dien agreed to use those funds to produce a “Let’s Learn” English language E-book for visually impaired children at shelters, clubs and schools in Ho Chi Minh City. Click here to watch the short video introduction to their project.
Four Narrow the Gap representatives joined the morning site visit, where we met and talked with Mr. Tri, the software developer , who gave an introduction to the Center and how they came up with the idea to produce a “Let’s Learn” English language E-book for visually impaired children at shelters, clubs and schools in Ho Chi Minh City.
“In the past, we created several E-books for children,” said Mr. Tri. “We also created E-books for visually impaired children, with a shelter as our client. We just thought, ‘why not turn this popular English language learning book into an E-book for visually impaired children as well?’”
After running through a demo of the “Let’s Learn” E-book, which Mr. Tri said is ninety percent completed, he talked about next steps. First the team needs to check, once more, for errors and complete the design (referring to functionality as opposed to graphics). Before the end of March, they expect to install the E-book on some computers at Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind in order to test usability with the Director and some of the students.
Attention NPOs working with visually impaired children! Mr. Tri said that Kim Tu Dien would welcome a chance to test the software at one or two other shelters. If any of your organizations would be interested and willing to help test the software, please contact Mr. Tri (at Kim Tu Dien) and/or Mr. Son (at LIN).
“In our experience working with visually impaired children, we know that they cannot use a mouse and they prefer to only use the ‘up’ and ‘down’ buttons,” explained Mr. Tri. “That is why we designed this software to rely heavily on those two keys.”
Once the tests are completed, Kim Tu Dien will make the required fixes before disseminating the completed “Let’s Learn” E-book to schools and shelters in the existing network first. Afterwards, Kim Tu Dien said it would like to make the software available to anyone else that would be interested. For this purpose, they plan to upload the software to the Center’s website for free download. (A password may be required but Mr. Tri said the Center plans to provide a password to anyone interested to download the program.)
“In the past, we made software for visually impaired children as a service provider, with the shelter as our client,” said Mr. Tri. “We did what they wanted.” But the decision to produce the “Let’s Learn” B-book, was different, “This program is something [Kim Tu Dien] wanted to do so we gave it our all, we contributed our staff time and we are working hard to make it perfect.”
Because Kim Tu Dien won third place, they were only able to create one out of the three “Let’s Learn” E-books they originally proposed to translate. Mr. Tri said the center plans to look for additional funds so they can make these books as well, “We still have a desire to produce the other two E-books.”
As a partner in the Narrow the Gap Community Fund for Children, we would like to invite you to join a 15 December site visit to Long An, at the location where Ceporer Hoc Mon is building a clean water tower for children. In the presence of community members, local authorities and Narrow the Gap supporters, Ceporer Hoc Mon has organized a groundbreaking ceremony, from 9am to 10:30am this Sunday. LIN is organizing transportation from HCMC to Long An for up to 10 donors. We will depart from HCMC at 6:30am and return before 2pm. Others are welcome to join the event via their own transportation. Are you interested to join this site visit? Please express your interest by responding to this message and/or emailing LIN at: donor@LINvn.org. Details will be sent by return email.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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