We flew from Manila to Vietnam. Another culture, different people, new challenges.
Just a few kilometers from the airport and a short hour drive to the capital, Hanoi, lies the rural town of Soc Son. There, a married couple Victoria and Hai Duong one and a half years ago founded a private kindergarten for children aged two to five years.
More than just kindergarten
Children from average working families want to offer more than just protection and appropriate upbringing at a time when their parents are at work.
The nursery offers many interesting activities, such as dance, music, kung fu, and above all includes learning English.
The latter is of great importance to Vietnamese because it is difficult to make a step forward in the country without the knowledge of a foreign language, which has maintained the socialist political system since the war with the Americans and has remained relatively closed to foreign investors and Western capitalist appetites.
“The beginnings are not easy,” Victoria told us, “many parents are still not aware of the importance of English for the future of their children, but there are more and more those who choose English schools and kindergartens.”
Capitol, as the spouses called the kindergarten (after one of the Roman hills), is today a home for about 100 children and ten teachers, while the kindergarten has at least the same amount of more free capacities.
The fact is that not many people in the countryside can afford such a kindergarten.The average salary of a worker, who usually works hard for twelve hours a day, Monday to Saturday (often on Sundays, too), is only € 150.
“For now, we only have enough to cover the basic costs and teachers’ salaries, but we try hard and we are well off,” Victoria said optimistically.
Nevertheless, the problem is not just finances and retained parents. Good English teachers are also hard to find. The Vietnamese are not as receptive to speaking foreign languages as the Filipinos, where the period of English colonization left much positive influence for the future of the islands.
Young people often come from English language faculties, who fully master the rules of the language, yet pronunciation is still a hack. Vietnamese is a phonetically a fundamentally different language.
So far, foreign volunteers who were travelling through Asia dedicated part of their time to the kindergarten Vietnamese patrons.
Such two volunteers were, for example, Ide Dunphy and Faron Wong, Canadians with Chinese and Philippine roots. After serving as volunteers for some time at the foundation,
A Gift from the Heart, among poor people in Navotas, they spent a month and a half in Capitol.
We followed the pointer
Silva and me also came to the kindergarten through this connection. Therese, who I wrote about in past articles, helped us to contact Ide, and Ide helped us contact Hai Duong.
Even before our visa expired in the Philippines, we had already had a room in kindergarten – God showed us the way and we, as always, followed His index finger.
In the following articles, I am going to write about a beautiful and wholehearted reception in the Capitol. A room dedicated to guests and foreign teachers is pleasant and offers all the conditions for a good and efficient work.
A new role – the same purpose
Yes, this time we will have the role of teachers of English for a while and after the first week of staying and working in a kindergarten, I can say that the experience is very interesting, instructive and rich. Is there any other way when you work with children, anyway?
In the company Operando, we collected donations for the Gift of Heart Foundation in the month of April and May.
The funds, that we have collected so far with your help, will be sent to Navotas in early June. The money will be spent for a noble purpose: one of the poor families in the slum will make it much easier for their child to pay a tuition fee for studying at the University of Philipines.
And do not forget, God is working right now, at home and everywhere else in the world! Let’s work with him.