Stories of sponsored children who suffered from the COVID pandemic
A difficult new Covid school organisation in Vietnam
After many weeks of social distancing in March 2020, Vietnam entered into full lockdown during the month of April. In parallel to this, the country’s schools and universities were closed from February until the end of April. During this period, none of the students was able to pursue their education in the same way as before.
Primary and middle school students were not able to have online courses taught by their usual teachers. Instead, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education broadcasted class via the local and national television channels with the aim of maintaining some degree of continuity in children’s education.
The secondary and high school students could also watch courses on TV because those covered the classes from Lop 1 to Lop 12 (A-level).
The college and university students had online courses organised by their own schools.
Most of the sponsored children do not have computers at home. Therefore they had to follow online courses via smartphone when a member of their family-owned one.
These past few months, these children’s learning conditions haven’t been ideal or taking place in optimal conditions. All of the children who I met recently are looking forward to going back to school.
Testimonial of Pham Duc Thinh
Thinh is 10 and is in Lop 5, the equivalent of Year 6 in the UK. After the death of his father, he went to live with his mother and his grandmother in Hanoi. All 3 of them live in a small, very spartan studio apartment, which contains a bed and a small corner for cooking in. The communal bathroom and the toilets are outside and shared with multiple families.
Thinh’s grandmother works at the night market and his mother has a rice stall in the market. Normally, their monthly income is around 7 million Vietnamese Dong, or around £230. This is very little money for a city like Hanoi where a salary of around 20 million Vietnamese Dong is required to live well (around £660).
COVID19 hit this family with full force. Both Thinh’s mother and grandmother were unable to continue to work during this period. The family, therefore, did not have any source of income. They were able to benefit from the COVID aid put in place by Children of the Mekong, which gave them access to 2 million Vietnamese Dong in April (around £65). Thinh’s mother told me that, with this money, they were able to buy food and also pay for Thinh’s medication, as he has a health problem in his right eye that requires regular hospital treatments.
Thinh was able to follow the courses on television but it was not easy to concentrate and for all 3 of them to be together all day long in this tiny studio apartment.
Thinh’s mother thanked the charity for the extra help, which had allowed Thinh to continue his medical treatment and compensated for some of the loss of revenue.
Testimonial of Nguyen Duong The Manh
The Manh is 11 years old, he is also in Lop 5 (Year 6). He lives with his mother, who is intellectually disabled, and his grandmother. All 3 of them live in Hanoi in a little studio apartment with a mezzanine floor.
I met The Manh’s mother and grandmother and the end of the lockdown period. His grandmother told me how it had been for the family to live through that period.
Usually, The Manh’s grandmother has a small stand in the road from where she sells cigarettes and snacks, amongst other things. This work allows her to earn a salary of around 2-3 million Vietnamese Dong per month (£98). Due to the pandemic, she was not able to continue to work and therefore had no salary. To help them, Kim Yen, the local programme manager of Children of the Mekong, gave them 10kg of rice. They were also able to benefit from the COVID aid provided by the charity, which gave them access to 2 million Vietnamese Dong (£65). This money has allowed them to buy food and to meet the requirements of everyday life.
During this period all 3 of them were stuck in the studio apartment, without anything to do. Manh was able to follow courses on television and study by himself. His grandmother was very touched by the supplementary help that his family had received during the lockdown and thanked the organisation from the bottom of her heart.
Other families helped by our COVID aid programme
Dinh Thien Phuc
Chanh and his mother
Tran Thao Duy
Phuong Anh with her brother and father
The Ouynh Nhi and Bao Thy families
Nguyen Le Hai Dang and his grandmother
Nguyen Ngoc Thuong Xuan
Pham Nguyen Thuy Quynh
Mguyen thi Thanh Kieu
Hai Dang with his parents and younger brother
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Children of the Mekong has been supporting nearly 10,000 families with emergency food distribution since April. Our response to the COVID crisis is adaptive to local needs. The next step will be to support livelihood projects so families can go back on their feet.