It is one of our greatest joys while here in Hoi An to witness the impact of sponsorships through Children's Education Foundation. As many of you know from reading our blogs and from our stories, the mission of this organization is to keep girls from poor families in school so that "they grow to be women with choices."
Our association with CEF has been two fold. We encourage our donors to Journeys of the Heart to direct their funds to this NGO and we work with Linda and her staff on development and organizational issues.
Over the years we have visited many of the girls whose education has been supported by our friends and family and we are so pleased when we see the progress and maturation of these eager girls and young women who treasure their opportunities to stay in school. They see their futures as full of promise, away from early marriage, the back breaking work of growing rice or servitude of other kinds. They do not comprehend their vulnerability to trafficking, but we do.
So when it is possible we leap at the chance to visit the girls in their homes.
This year, as last, we visited Van and her family who live in the fishing village of Cua Dai near the mouth of the Thu Bon river. Meeting Linda and two of her staff at a hotel, we hopped on motorbikes to get to Van's house. What fun it is to mount up and ride in the breeze behind capable drivers like Thuy and Ngoc.
The lanes in the village were a challenge but eventually we arrived at Van's house. They were expecting us and the tea was ready! We were warmly greeted by Van, her Mom and her sweet Grandma.
What makes this visit special is that Van's sponsor who lives in California always makes a special effort to send to us, well in advance of our departure from Salt Spring Island, a gift for Van, pictures of her family and a letter.
Van could read her sponsor's letter in English which delighted us all.
To add poignancy, Van's sponsor sent a shell from the beaches of Hawaii. The symbolism of the shell was that it had come from a Pacific shore thousands of miles away. We were all connected over the expanse of this great water. Van and CEF staffers, Ngoc and Thuy were mesmerized to hear the ocean sounds in the shell.
Van's sponsor's parents landed in Hawaii after fleeing Vietnam after the war. Here we were, presenting a shell from Hawaii to Van, who shares a heritage with her sponsor. I was close to tears.
And, as you can see, I was also suffering the heat!! The wet look hairdo is the style that I sport often here in this humid and hot place.
Thank you to Van's sponsor and all of our friends who have committed to keeping a young Vietnamese girl in school.