Vietnam is one of the poorest countries in the world. The war has left its mark and even today large parts of the population live precariously, suffering from hunger, poverty and the frequent natural disasters. Half the population of almost 80 million are below the age of 20. Many children and young people lack food, education or training. But Vietnam’s future depends on its children’s development. The lack of social services also heavily impacts the elderly and handicapped who often find themselves alone and helpless.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Master, one of the most celebrated and engaged public figures of Buddhism in the world today. His whole life has been devoted to the Buddhist ideal of wisdom and compassion. During the war in Vietnam, he created the school for Youth and Social Service whose aim was to reconstruct destroyed villages, he also founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon. Forced into exile in 1966, he continued working for peace and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Since then he has never stopped working to help refugees from the war and vulnerable children.
The programme Understanding and Love is the new name for the school for Youth and Social Service under the new government. The head office is in Thich Nhat Hanh’s root temple in the city of Hue, Central Vietnam. The majority of aid programmes carried out by the monastics and social workers are concentrated in the centre of Vietnam. The 8 provinces of South Vietnam are covered by a team of 37 people and the 9 provinces of the north are covered by another team of 12 people.
Far from the towns and cities, many children in big families suffer from malnutrition.
Thanks to your help and generosity, the social workers from our association can provide for many under nourished children a complete meal at midday and a glass of soya milk in the afternoon.
In many regions of Vietnam social infrastructures are non-existant. In mountainous regions, adults are obliged to cut wood from early in the morning until late at night to sell for a small income. On the tea and coffee plantations young parents cannot take care of their children or count on help from their families and grandparents because they live far away. All their energy is focused on survival, the children, many very young, are left by themselves and become prey to falls, snake bites, drowning and other dangers.
We need sponsors to support children through school and to pay for school teachers. We use your donations to insure that a particular school has a regular income, allowing it to pay its teachers and to provide one meal a day for each child.
Because of their poverty many families are not able to provide for even the most basic of needs for the elderly and handicapped. For this reason they are often abandoned and live in appalling conditions.
For 10 Euros each month you can enable an elderly or handicapped person to live with dignity.
Access to water allows a family to grow vegetables, cultivate a garden and therefore provide its own food. The construction of a well can insure the long term survival for a whole family.
The construction of wells for schools allows for basic hygiene to be provided.
With 25 Euros you allow a family to buy the materials for digging its own well.
With 100 Euros you can finance the materials and the work for the construction of a well for a family that does not have men to dig it themselves.
Unfortunately Vietnam is regularly the victim of natural disasters such as typhoons or floods. The consequences are dramatic: loss of human life and countless families that find themselves without shelter and lacking the minimum for survival.
Giving the donation of your choice you support our urgent aid programmes which provide food, medicines and other supplies.
Your aid is precious.
It provides for the relief of hunger and improves living conditions for many people, bringing them support and hope. Your help continues its path through developing understanding and compassion in each one of us.
Four former students of Thich Nhat Hanh, trained by him during the war, were encouraged in 1998 to start up a series of infant/daycare schools for the most vulnerable children of Vietnam.
In the far off mountainous regions, with the help of Plum Village, they are already helping hundreds of children in the provinces of Lam Dong, Binh Thuan and Dong Nai.
Helping People to Help Themselves
The aim of all our programs is to provide help so that the people in need can help themselves. For example, for a family with many children, we support one child, therefore the family will be able to continue to fulfill its responsibilities. We give free food only to the poorest parents. Families who are able to contribute towards the cost of food or education, even if modestly, continue to do so.
When it comes to building a school, the social workers consult with the village population and the authorities to inspire them to get involved in the project. We provide only the most basic materials, such as a straw roof, walls of bamboo; the school is built by the villagers. In this way they feel that it is their school. This also goes for well construction and other projects.