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Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam

by OneSky
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Help care for preschoolers in Vietnam
Now, Hoa takes pride in her work.
Now, Hoa takes pride in her work.

In Vietnam, all of OneSky’s trained home-based caregivers share something in common: their love of working with children. Each has their own unique story to tell of how they began their career. But Hoa’s journey of following her passion and working with kids has been harder than most …

Hoa, now 48, was born into a life filled with challenges.

She came from a family of five children living in Vietnam. Her father died when she was just a toddler and her youngest sibling was a baby. When she was only 7-years-old she left her impoverished, crowded home and began babysitting for other families in exchange for food and a place to sleep.

She had experience as a babysitter from looking after her own sisters. That was how she grew up 41 years ago, after the Vietnam War had just ended and the country was struggling with extreme poverty.

She can’t even remember how many families she had lived with. She recalled that her mother was always vaguely aware of where she was, but, as a single working mom raising five children, she didn’t have the energy to care for her more.

Hoa worked at the market buying and selling clothes or fruit. At 15 she had been doing this for almost five years when she met the couple who would later become her foster parents. They wanted to foster her since they had no children of their own. That was the first time she had a real family.

She still remembers when her foster parents had their first baby. While they were overjoyed, Hoa became insecure, thinking that her foster parents would no longer love her. She even made a plan — to escape far away, perhaps to a foreign country. But when she met the child, who was born premature and weighed only 1 kg, her heart melted. Hoa, by then an experienced caregiver, decided to stay and help.

She also continued to trade at the market and got married at the age of 21. She had two children, but unfortunately, the marriage didn’t work out. She became a single mom just like her own mother.

When Hoa was 27 years old, she met Toan, her current husband by chance at a restaurant she was working at. Hoa was very hesitant at first, since he was 20 years older, but his love and gentle heart persuaded her to marry him. The couple worked and saved hard, and finally managed to buy a house in Da Nang City Center.

For the first time, Hoa felt like she had finally settled down. However, trials and difficulties were around the corner, as the couple went bankrupt after a disastrous business decision. The family sold their house to pay off all the debts, and had to move to Hoa Khanh industrial zone due to the lower rent and living costs.

At the age of 40, Hoa had no job, no house, and felt like she had no hope. She was despondent, and at her lowest point, even considering taking her own life. However, looking at her children, she knew she needed to soldier on and continue for their sake. She started to look for jobs in cafes, restaurants and factories. But no one would hire her, due to her age, and the fact that she was illiterate. Her self-esteem was steadily eroding.

Then one day, her neighbor mentioned to her, “I see that you really like children, why don’t you help me by looking after my children while you’re job hunting? I’ll pay you at the end of the month when I get my salary.”

Caring for children was a job that Hoa had done since she was a small girl. She had worked very hard to change her life and do something different. But now it seemed to be the only option.

She started taking children into her own home, and her sister came to help out. The neighbors would leave their kids with her and pick them up in the evening after work. There was no paperwork or commitment. Although Hoa didn’t think she wanted to go back to caregiving, she discovered that it was a natural fit and what she really enjoyed doing. Over time, the number of children at Hoa’s care center increased. From just one or two children at first, now Hoa and her sister take care of 14 toddlers, all under 3-years-old.

One day, Hoa received a letter from the Department of Education and Training, inviting her to a OneSky Home-based Care Training Course. When her husband read the letter to her, she couldn’t hold back her tears. That was the first time she had ever had an opportunity to attend a class. When she was growing up, children were not required to attend school. At the time, though just a child, she was too busy earning a living.

At first, being so nervous and lacking confidence, she refused to attend the training. However, her husband held her hand and said: “Don’t worry, I’ll be with you in this new journey. I’ll take you to the classroom and wait for you. I’ll read for you when you can’t read. When you learn, we’ll learn together.”

Soon after, OneSky’s Education Specialist also visited Hoa at home and encouraged her, giving her confidence that she could do well in the classes, even without knowing how to read and write.

The first time Hoa sat in that classroom was the first time in her life she had ever taken learning seriously. She was very worried, but when she met the OneSky trainers she gained confidence to continue. And soon her fellow classmates became her friends outside the classroom.

Throughout the course of 10 months, her husband took her to the Early Learning Center (ELC) in the evening and waited outside when she was attending the training. Hoa turned out to have an excellent memory, in spite of not being able to write. She memorized what the teachers said in the classroom, and as soon as she came home she would tell her husband what she had learned, and he would take notes for her.

Apart from bi-weekly classes, the training program also provided hands-on training in the OneSky Approach through visits to home-based care centers. Now her OneSky trainer, pays regular visits to Hoa’s home to review all the knowledge she learned and to give her guidance and advice. Furthermore, home-based caregivers also are able to review their knowledge and discuss their questions via 1BigFamily, an educational website run by OneSky, dedicated to home-based caregivers like Hoa. Every evening her husband Toan would sit next to Hoa and read the topics on the website to her. As she answered questions, he typed the answers for her on the website.

“I’ve been caring for children all my life, since I was 5-years-old. But I just used my instinct to do everything,” Hoa said. “I was glad to be in the OneSky training to learn about babies’ brains, practice my skills, and find out how to deal with difficult behavior while keeping calm. I used to think that things like children’s routines or arranging a classroom were time-consuming and unnecessary. But after applying what I’ve learned at OneSky, I’ve realized that it actually made my job much easier and helped the children to learn better.”

The main thing Hoa said the course gave her was a new self-confidence. She became a home-based care provider because for her it was the only way out of poverty. But now, after learning how important early education is, she said: “I feel proud of myself, and the job I do, more than ever before. I want to give the children that I’m caring for a better start than I had. And I want to start learning to read, to show that it’s never too late to learn something new. What matters is trying your best, whatever you do.”

*Thank you for your continued support of the OneSky Approach in Vietnam! To read more stories about the work that OneSky does, please visit the story page on our website.

The children love spending time with Hoa.
The children love spending time with Hoa.
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Home for the holiday!
Home for the holiday!

Vietnam’s Lunar New Year (Tet) is all about family. For many it’s their only chance to be together. In this special report, we share how some of the parents, children and teachers of OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang chose to celebrate the holiday.

The Center was set up to help the children of rural migrant workers. For most of these families, the New Year is their only chance to travel home to visit their wider family.

Here are a couple of their Tet stories.

A Time to Teach Children Traditions and Values

Nhi (1-year-old) and Phong (5) both go to the ELC. Their parents are from Quang Nam province, 200 km south of Da Nang. The parents’ homes are very near to each other. They’d grown up knowing each other. After they were married, they moved to Da Nang to find jobs in the industrial zone.

Their mom, Lan, works at a factory that makes and exports handbags, while their dad, Tien, works at a flour mill.

Tien works night shifts. He starts at 3am and finishes at 1pm. After his shift, he often goes to the ELC and helps out. As he says: “I owe the ELC so much and I want to give back.”

Ahead of the Tet holiday, at the ELC’s recent Spring Festival, the whole family was showing people how to make their own banh chung – a traditional food celebrating the Lunar New Year and made from glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork.

Making banh chung is a tradition in Tien’s family. Tien learned to make it as a child and his family often sold them at the market for extra income at this time of year.

Because they are both working parents, Tien really values Tet. He sees it as not just a wonderful opportunity for the family to be together, but also a time to teach their children New Year traditions and family values.

Siblings Chose Work in the City Over Farming in the Countryside

Nhan was one of the first teachers to join the ELC when it opened in 2017.

Nhan is from Quang Binh, a town 400 kms away from Da Nang. Like many other young students, she left her hometown to go to university in Da Nang, then settled in the city after graduation. There was only farming work back home.

Her three siblings all work in different cities; she is the closest to home.

The Lunar New Year is the only opportunity for a full family reunion. It took a six-hour overnight coach ride to see the whole family again.

Thanh (15 months) is in the youngest in his class at the ELC. His parents are from Quang Trach, Quang Binh, which is over 320 km from Da Nang.

The young couple knew each other from their hometown, but the only available work was farming. They decided to move to Da Nang to find work in factories.

But living so far from wider family support can make life very difficult.

“After my six months maternity leave, I had to go back to work at the factory,” explained Thanh’s mother, Thuy. “My mother traveled from our hometown to Da Nang, to help me look after Thanh, so that I could work. But my father was unwell and she had to return to farming – their only source of income.

“Luckily, I heard about OneSky and got a place for my son. It was such a big relief for my family and my parents.”

Despite the long six-hour overnight coach trip to her hometown, Thuy was very excited to return. Tet is the only time when her big family can reunite.

*To read more stories about the work that OneSky does, please visit the story page on our website!

Lunar New Year is a time for families.
Lunar New Year is a time for families.
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Creative play.
Creative play.

As the holiday season is nearly upon us, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our dedicated supporters, for your continued generosity on behalf of the children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this special field report about a few of the women living in Vietnam whose lives have been impacted by our work.  

Young women account for up to 70 percent of migrant workers in Vietnam’s factories.

Their children lack residency status for public preschool or daycare. Where quality local private preschool is available, fees are usually higher than most can afford. Instead, they rely on home-based care (HBC)—many of which have untrained staff. In total, 1.2 million children live in Vietnam’s industrial zones.

In 2017, OneSky opened an Early Learning Center (ELC) for the children of rural migrants in Da Nang’s industrial zone. To help even more children, a year later OneSky provided training to 240 local home-based caregivers. Now, working with the Vietnamese government, OneSky is set to expand this service to 19 provinces across the country.

For this report, OneSky spoke to three women (and a young girl) whose lives have been changed by the ELC:

Anh, Headteacher at OneSky Early Learning Center in Da Nang

“OneSky has changed my own perspective. I used to work for a private kindergarten for 14 years, where moms worked regular nine to five jobs. The ELC moms work night shifts and irregular working hours. It impacts on the activities at the ELC and we always have to keep this in mind.

“They really love it when we do what we can to recognize their dedication and hard work. When they receive things like a little card from their children, they are so grateful. It makes me realize how hard their lives are and helps me appreciate how meaningful our work is here.”

Thuy (mother) and Hong (daughter)

Thuy is a factory worker for a company producing fishing equipment. Her husband works as a truck driver. Thuy’s daughter, Hong, is 3-years-old and started attending the ELC in September this year.

Before joining the ELC, her daughter Hong was looked after for two years by a home-based care center. The HBC she went to had 15 babies staffed by just two caregivers.

“We visited the school with Hong and she was the one who said she wanted to come here. She loved the garden! The whole family was delighted when she was accepted. 

“Now, I see that my daughter is changing every day. She can feed and dress herself – things she wasn’t able to do before. She is so much more confident. I’m very grateful that she was offered the place here. I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next three years.”

Tuyen, ELC Teacher

“Since I joined the ELC, I have found that working alongside female colleagues is a wonderful thing. We share so much in common and understand how best we can help each other. I get so much support from work colleagues. 

“I also love that we are recognized as individuals and are encouraged to build on our own strengths.”

 

Last month OneSky’s Caregiver training was amongst the winners of the Solve MIT Innovation for Women Prize, funded by the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

* We look forward to bringing you future happenings from our work in Vietnam. To read more stories about how OneSky helps vulnerable kids, please visit the story page on our website!

Good job!
Good job!
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Toys, toys and more toys!
Toys, toys and more toys!

Thank you for your continued support of children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this field report about how some of the preschoolers we serve are working together to help fight Vietnam’s new war on trash. Read on to find out how—for these kids—there’s no such thing as single-use plastic!

 

Suddenly Vietnam’s plastics problem is big news.

Recently, state media VN Express profiled the problem with the headline: “As environmental concerns rise, are Vietnamese finally paying heed to trash?”.

In 2015, Vietnam was named one of five countries that dump more trash into the oceans than the rest of the world combined. The country generates over 70,000 tons of waste daily. Plus, last year it imported 9.2 million tons of plastic scrap.

Teachers at OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang are very much aware that, for the children they teach, Vietnam’s environment will have a huge effect on their lives.

The ELC was set up specifically to meet the needs of children of rural migrants. Across Vietnam, changing weather conditions are one of the main reasons people are leaving rural areas in search of factory work in the city.

And while Da Nang is famed for its beautiful coastline and growing tourist industry, increased flooding during rainy season and seas filling with trash mean the city has its own environmental problems.

“The ELC is a pilot program. It cares for nearly 250 children but reaches thousands more via the training we offer to home-based carers,” said OneSky program director Vo Thi Hien.

“That will extend nation-wide in the future with 19 more provinces. Our resources are limited. We train caregivers and encourage parents to recycle because it’s free for them and fun for kids. It’s also a way to minimize our own waste and teach these children about the environment and their responsibilities to keep their country clean.”

 

*We look forward to bringing you future happenings from our work in Vietnam.To read more stories about how OneSky helps vulnerable kids, please visit the story page on our website!

Plants - what better way to learn about nature?
Plants - what better way to learn about nature?
Toothbrush holders - for that pre-nap brush!
Toothbrush holders - for that pre-nap brush!
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A special outing!
A special outing!

Thank you for your continued support of children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this story about a special factory visit by preschoolers enrolled in our program. We look forward to bringing you future reports from our work in Vietnam.

 

There’s so much that’s different about OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang, Vietnam, but one detail truly sets it apart.

The center was set up specifically for the children of rural migrants working in the surrounding factory zone. Parents of the children have all moved from countryside to city, looking for work so they can provide for their families. Across Vietnam, 60 percent of all factory workers are rural migrants.

But having found work, many soon realize reliable childcare is hard to find—and that’s where OneSky’s ELC and training programs have stepped in to help.

Recently, more than one hundred of the ELC’s older kids – aged three to six – got to see for themselves the kind of place where Mom and Dad work so hard. Teachers took them on a field trip to a nearby factory, so they had a better understanding of what their parents do all day.

“Factories play a major part in their lives. It’s where their parents go six days a week,” said Vo Thi Hien, OneSky Vietnam Program Director. “This is why they come home tired. Earning an income helps pay for the food they eat and the clothes they wear. You could see the children taking in so much on their trip.

“The Early Learning Center is providing the best possible start for these children. It also gives parents peace of mind. As the center has become more established it has also grown a community of factory workers who provide their own mutual support, somewhere children and parents can spend time together. We welcome parents to spend time using our facilities with their children.”

With places at the ELC limited, most local working parents have to rely on home-based caregivers. So, as part of the ELC pilot, OneSky also provides training for women running these facilities.

Read more about OneSky’s Migrant Model.

 

*To read more stories about the overall work that OneSky does, please visit the story page on our website!

Hard to say goodbye...
Hard to say goodbye...
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OneSky for all children
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