On Monday morning the Rock-Paper-Scissor’s staff arrived at Cam An Nam High School, in south central Vietnam to give 20 girls their new bicycles. All of the girls waited patiently as the new bikes were unloaded from the truck, and lined up perfectly on the makeshift stage, set up for the giving event. One parent or grandparent sat with each girl on small red stools lined up neatly in rows. The girls wait patiently to be told to take a place next to her beautiful new bike.
The ceremony was simple but formal, with members of the school and local government present. Every ceremony begins with a short speech by one of the local government officials about the importance of staying in school and studying hard, and the gift of a bicycle. Then one of the girls is always chosen to give her own speech, thanking us for the bicycles and promising to stay in school and continue to work hard.
Each of these beautiful, young girls have special stories about their lives, and this day we meet one very sweet girl receiving a bike. Her name is My. My is 13 years old and is the oldest sibling of 3 girls and 4 boys, ages 1-13. We learned today that My has kidney disease, and that although she takes medicine year round which has helped to keep her out of the hospital, her health is still quite poor. My says that “this year is the best year because I have spent the least time in the hospital, and I can go to school regularly. Normally, I have had to take a lot of medicine and go to the hospital and I can’t attend school as regularly as I expect” Despite her difficulties and poor health, My is nothing but optimistic and enthusiastic about life.
We meet many girls with similar stories, some with health conditions like My, some who have lost their parents, and of course all these girls continue to struggle in a life of poverty every day. Often times we have met girls through our Bikes for Girls program and have invited and accepted them into our music and art after school programs. There we are able to provide more one-on-one support for them through mentoring, being involved in a supportive community of students and young adults, just plain having fun away from the stresses of their daily lives, and of course for us to provide for them, their siblings and family through tuition payments to their schools and other needs.
This summer, I will be traveling to Vietnam and will be visiting My and her family. I hope to learn more about the medical care My needs, and raise money for her family to help care for My and her siblings as much as possible.
Since January 2015, we have given 80 bicycles and in 2014, 200 girls received new bicycles. Each of you receiving this letter has volunteered to help encourage these girl’s to continue to go to school to improve their lives through their education, and of course provided them with the simple joy and pride of being able to own and ride a new bike to school.
Thank you as always,
Please email me at: email@example.com if you would like to know more about our program, if you would like to volunteer, or you just plain want to ask me more!
Dear Bikes for Girls Supporters,
We are happy to be updating you on the progress we have made in Vietnam. First of all, thank you all for buying bikes for the girls! Everyone in Vietnam thanks you. Please see the link below to a short video promoting our Bikes for Girls program and see some of your bikes and the girls who have received them.
As you can see on the faces of these beautiful girls, receiving a bike is incredibly special for them. Although I am not able to attend each and every ceremony, I have been to many and for me the most wonderful part is to see the girls climb onto the bikes and head off down the road together. It’s an unbelievable site.
This year, depending on funding of course, we would like to try and give at least 20 bikes each month. We have already started with 20 bikes being distributed at the end of January, and another 20 planned for February.
We also have plans to bring another group of volunteers to Vietnam in July 2015 to work with us on the bike program, as well as take part in our art and music camps in ethnic minority villages. As you may know from previous reports, our staff in Vietnam, along with the employees from local bike shops, visit the girls 2-3 months after giving them their bikes. We provide a check of the bikes and repair what needs to be repaired. This approach has worked out OK so far, but as we provide more bikes, we definitely need a more sustainable plan for bike maintenance and training.
So this summer, we hope to team up with a U.S. group who teaches high school students here in the States to repair and conduct bike safety checks. Our goal is to provide similar training to some of the girls, and at least one woman in each village or school system so that we have someone local that the girls can go to if their bikes need repairing, or they need supplies. We are excited to get this part of the program off the ground.
Lots of people ask why give bikes only to girls, and why train a woman to repair the bikes and not a man. Well, the answer is simple; we want to empower girls and women to be self-reliant, especially when it comes to something as simple as their transportation. The more knowledge these girls and women own, the more likely they will have the tools to help themselves through life, and hopefully, eventually out of poverty. We want to give them a bike to be able to travel to school, but we also want them to know that we have confidence in what they can do!
So, we hope to put the “Bike Repair and Safety” team together for the summer to begin the training program and make this a permanent part of our Bikes for Girls program.
Again, we would like to thank all of you for buying bikes, and for helping sustain this program now for almost two years! Please let us know if you would like to volunteer somehow with us.
Thank you again,
Sara Nerone (Founder)
Dear Friends and Supporters,
I hope this update finds you in good health and high spirits. We have just donated our 200th bike in the last week! Thank you so much for your support. It’s hard to imagine your impact I’m sure, so we would like you to meet a couple of girls who have received a bike thanks to your generous donation.
Please know that you are making a huge difference in the lives of girls in Vietnam.
10-year-old Kieu is one of 9 brothers and sisters. Four years ago, when she was six, Kieu’s father died, leaving her mother, Hien the lone supporter of the large family. Hien, works making $2-$4 a day selling snails she catches on the nearby shoreline.
Kieu’s three oldest siblings have all dropped out of school and traveled to different provinces, far away to find work to help support the family. Each month they send home whatever they can to help their mother with school fees and food for the rest of the children.
Kieu and her family were overjoyed when she received the bike. As much as her mother worries daily about her children, Kieu’s new bike offers a small respite, knowing that her daughter is more safe now going to and from school.
Before we met Thoa, the 8-year-old was about to quit school. Her father Hieu, 36, a fisherman, and her mother Thao, 35, a restaurant worker, could not afford a bike for their daughter, and the 10 km distance to school was too far for her to walk.
Thoa’s father’s job requires him to be on the water anywhere from weeks to months at a time. His earnings vary, depending on the catch, and frequently he will come home after months away with only $50 -$100. Her mother earns around $100 a month working everyday at the restaurant. Thoa’s 14-year-old brother goes to the restaurant after school and works all night only to return home in the morning to make it in to school.
When Thoa comes home from school in the afternoon, she is alone in the house until 10 p.m. when her mother comes home from work.
“Looking at the cute girl’s face and her bright eyes, we felt really moved,” our program director said. “At her young age, she has no way of thinking how difficult her life is going to be in the future. She deserves more love from people and a good education for a better future.”
Thank you once again for your continued support. Know that your donation directly goes to the purchase of a bike for a young girl. Know that with each bike we give, another young girl has the opportunity to continue with their schooling. We are forever grateful for your generosity, you are an integral part in improving the lives of girls in need. We are changing lives, thank you for being a part of the change.
The Rock-Paper-Scissors Children's Fund Team
We hope your summer is going well and this update finds you in good health. We are getting close to the last week of our trip in Vietnam and we couldn’t be more happy with the work that you have helped us accomplish and only wish we had more time to stay and do more.
So far we have had two bike giving ceremonies in Cam Duc and Cam An villages, with one more to go in the coming week. By the end of our trip we will have given 60 bikes to girls in the Cam Lam district and by the end of this year we hope to donate 150 more bikes to girls in need in Viet Nam.
It is hard to describe life in Cam Lam to anyone who has never been here. It is hard to explain to someone what a family living on only $1 a day looks like, or what it’s like to visit a young girl’s home who has lost both her parents and lives with relatives in a tiny, one-room cement house with no furniture, and yet still maintains a constant smile and a thankfulness for a gift that we so often take for granted. We also can’t describe fully what it feels like to watch as a group of girls jump on their new bikes and ride away, as we look on and hope that they may be able to continue their education because now they have a way to make the trek that the day before seemed too far for a pair of feet alone to conquer. We also can’t explain, or reconcile even with ourselves what it’s like knowing that for whatever small measure of good we are trying to produce here, it is never enough, and the importance of supporting girls’ education worldwide is paramount for the success of future generations.
But one thing we can try to do as best we can is to say thank you. We can say that with your thoughtfulness and generosity that you are making a difference in these girl’s lives and we are seeing it first hand. We can tell you that we are forever grateful that you have chosen to support these beautiful girls. We have made sure that every $55 has gone directly to buying a bike.
We hope you will continue to have good health, good luck, and good success in the months and years to come.
Thank you again,
The Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund Team
Thanks to all of you who have supported our 100 Bikes for 100 Girls program on Global Giving. We have just reached another funding milestone by raising enough money to buy bikes for 100 more girls! Thank you so much for the continued support, the girls are so happy to receive the bikes from you all. The girls and their families send their hellos and thanks to you all.
In March, one of our Board Members, Ms. Luu Phan was in Vietnam and she went for the first time to visit our art, music and bike program in the province of Khanh Hoa. She was very happy to be able to take part in a bike giving ceremony while she was visiting, and was so happy to see the reaction and gratefulness of the girls receiving the bikes that you have given them. The photographs linked to this report are of Luu with some of the girls.
More good news is that a staff member of Global Giving also went to visit our program in Vietnam. She sent back rave reviews to their office here in the states, so we are very excited to have this independent critique of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Please let us know if any of you have plans to travel to Vietnam, a group of us will be there from the U.S. this summer for one month working with the kids.
Please know that all of your donations have gone directly to purchasing a bike or bikes. We look forward to continuing this program on Global Giving. Thank you again for supporting the girls and giving them an opportunity to own a new bike, the opportunity to travel to school easily and most of all safely. Your gifts have already made such an enormous, direct difference in each of these girl’s lives.
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