Ladies and Gentlemen, meet with Linh, the beautiful new addition to our family!
Our Vietnamese friend is 9 year old and we got officially introduced last Monday.
We met at her school, in Hanoi, together with representatives from the French NGO Coup de Pouce and the head of her school. The precious kid was a bit shy, but also very proud to tell me about her excellent marks in Maths and Science. You could tell she had rehearsed her lines, trying not to care too much about those foreigners starring at her. Today is a big day for her.
The head of school took us to Linh’s place. A tiny house with a 10 square meters bare living room, where her disabled Dad usually sleeps on a wood bench. A couple of steps away, there is a the “kitchen”, which is basically a rice cooker and an old gas stove.
The walls have known better days – probably decades ago. They have been ruined by the humidity and the oil stains. The grand mother, Linh and her 2 sisters are sharing a cramped room on the first floor.
Her grand mother is warmly welcoming us and answers our questions about the family, so we can figure out how to help them best: Linh is the youngest of 3 girls, and the Mum ran away years ago. The Dad had a scooter accident and can’t take more than the 2 hours a day work he spends selling lottery tickets. The whole family of 5 relies on the Grand mother’s pension of 3 millions VND (150 dollars) a month.
The kind school principal is offering all the school materials for Linh and her sisters. She is one one who reached out to Coup de Pouce: Linh is a brilliant student but the family is struggling to make ends meet, and soon enough the kids will enter secondary school and will have to pay for their school fees. They won’t be able to afford them.
This is where our family steps in: for a year (renewable), we will be Linh’s god parents. We are sponsoring her with 30 dollars a month, so the family doesn’t have to worry about food and the child can stay at school instead of working. Every month, the grand mother will receive a 20 kg food package (rice, oil, lentils, nooddles..) enough to sustain the family for a month. In exchange, we will check on Linh’s results to make sure she is still attending school.
Coup de Pouce will top the 30 dollars with a “school enveloppe” of 15 dollars a month.
In addition, Coup de Pouce will check on the family from times to times, in case they need any urgent assistance. Some houses are so ramshackle that the least one can offer is to redo the sanitary system or properly fix the windows in winter.
Sponsoring Linh is a family business. My kids know about her history and are already eager to meet up with her. As Linh told me she’d like to practice her English, we just have to set a date 🙂 For now and for the whole duration of the sponsoring, they are partipating to Linh’s education by offering 1 week of their pocket money.. My 6 y.o son was a bit reluctant at first, then he saw the pics of the house and I think he radically changed his mind when the realised all one can do with a couple of dollars in Vietnam.
We might help Linh with money, she’s inspiring us in return with her resilience and her great spirits ! Way to go girl 🙂
“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere” Chinese Proverb