Visiting the Children of the Aspiration Fund, Vietnam
By Marille van de Rijt
The children see that there are people who care about them and support them.
Arriving in Que Phong, Nghe An, Vietnam
During my volunteering project in Vietnam, I had the opportunity to visit a village where 20 orphans from Aspiration Fund live. Aspiration Fund is helping orphans to go to school by providing the daily personal guidance they need. Thao (a volunteer) and I were welcomed warmly by the local Aspiration volunteers in Que Phong district in Nghe An province after a journey of 8 hours. This village is the poorest area where Aspiration supports children and it is located in a mountainous area close to the border of Laos.
Once we arrived at the village, a number of children were waiting for us. All the kids I have met were between the age of 9 and 13 and didn’t have their parents with them anymore. We brought dried pineapple for them and I distributed a number of English reading books. Thao was my interpreter and so I could tell something about myself and ask them questions.
I visited a lot of small, shabby huts in which the children live. Among them were two brothers who live with their sick grandmother. They got the hut from the government and they live in very poor conditions. Fortunately, the brothers can go to school and eat thanks to Aspiration Fund, but often the problem is that they can’t buy books and notebooks.
The children of Aspiration fund
After the visit, we drove on to a village where we were welcomed by children of Aspiration fund with the most beautiful shining eyes and the sweetest laughs! In a fairly large hut, a large part of the village came together. We read English together with the children and talked about their lives. All sorts of things happened in the hut, mothers were breastfeeding, little toddlers were playing everywhere, children were peeing, and the grandmothers and grandfathers were watching from the side.
The children’s stories were incredibly diverse. Many parents have died from HIV because they never knew how to protect themselves. A number of children have also been abandoned by their parents. Fortunately, everyone is supportive to each other and there are often uncles, aunts or grandparents who try to take over the parent task.
Lucky Lan’s story
Many children live in a small room during the week with other students close to school. Often, high school is too far away from their homes and they have to stay there. In the afternoon, I was allowed to take a look at one of these rooms, together with a 13-year-old girl called Lan. There were about 10 rooms with 2, 3 or 4 children in each room. Each room was only 6 m2and there was no window.
In the hot little room, Lan told that she is lucky that her brother and uncle are making money and that she lives close to school. I heard from the volunteers that her circumstances are still pretty good compared to the rest. I could not believe it when I saw what the room looked like, but apparently, it’s because she has more money to buy books and notebooks compared to others. When we said good-bye, Lan gave me a hug and started to cry. It was heartbreaking and very difficult to leave her behind.
On love and second chances
It is impossible to describe in words what I experienced, saw and felt this weekend visiting Aspiration Fund. From birth, these children already have no good basis and no future prospect. It is so unfair that I am so lucky and they have to deal with such bad conditions. Yet, I was received so lovingly everywhere and they were so very happy with my arrival and help. The children see that there are people who care about them and support them. That is what they need most; love, support, care and motivation.
I have met students who have been given a second chance thanks to Aspiration. Now they are studying at a university or already have work. I have now also seen where these children come from, what their background is and how effective Aspiration fund is. The children are helped by Aspiration throughout their childhood, allowing them to really build a new life and realize their dreams.
I am so incredibly grateful that I have been able to experience this. One of the most beautiful and special experiences in my life.
This post was written by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth.