Twenty-five years of help­ing un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren break the cy­cle of poverty in Viet­nam

Oi Vietnam - - Contents - Interview by Minh Nhu Vo Images Pro­vided by Xuan

INGO Xuan has been help­ing un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren break the cy­cle of povery in Viet­nam


an­niver­sary this year, we speak to Dr. Chanh Tran Tien, a French-Viet­namese ex­pat and Hon­orary Founder of Xuan, les en­fants de l’avenir (Xuan), about the INGO’s WASH pro­gram, achieve­ments and the epony­mous Xuan.

What in­spired you to come to Viet­nam to set up Xuan?

I am a French-Viet­namese doctor with deep re­spect to­wards my Viet­namese roots. My fam­ily left Viet­nam when I was 10 years old. In 1992 I re­turned to Viet­nam to tour with a cou­ple of friends. I re­call that we were wait­ing for a ferry to take us to Cat Ba, a small is­land to the south of Ha Long Bay.

It’s when and where I met a lit­tle 10-year-old-girl named Xuan (“Xuan” means “spring­time” in Viet­namese) at Hai Phong port. Like many other Viet­namese chil­dren her age at that time, Xuan had to work af­ter school and dur­ing school va­ca­tions to earn ex­tra money to sup­port her fam­ily. Xuan was sell­ing paper fans to boat pas­sen­gers, and she sold one to me for VND500, an ex­tremely lit­tle amount of money. I of­fered her a tip, with­out any ex­pec­ta­tion of be­ing paid back. How­ever, what hap­pened next was a gra­cious sur­prise that left a strong im­pres­sion in my heart about the true beauty of Viet­nam and its peo­ple. This sym­bolic en­counter drove me to found Xuan with the mis­sion of help­ing and em­pow­er­ing Viet­namese chil­dren.

Tell us what Xuan does?

Xuan ( as­sox­uan.org) is a regis­tered French INGO (In­ter­na­tional Non­Govern­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion) op­er­at­ing in Viet­nam with the aim to em­power un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren, the poor­est of the poor, by im­ple­ment­ing a va­ri­ety of ed­u­ca­tion­ally-based projects and ac­tiv­i­ties such as schol­ar­ship pro­grams, shel­ters and WASH (Wa­ter-Hy­giene-San­i­ta­tion) for ru­ral and iso­lated schools.

The Xuan team deeply un­der­stands that chil­dren can­not learn well in undig­ni­fied and un­hy­gienic en­vi­ron­ment. In un­der­tak­ing the

WASH projects, we be­lieve that a great num­ber of school boys and girls’ well­be­ing will be im­proved. As a re­sult, they will con­cen­trate bet­ter at school and share good health-re­lated habits and mes­sages with their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

In 2017, Xuan launched the WASHin-school projects in Kon Tun prov­ince and the Mekong Delta of Viet­nam. In the world, ev­ery 90 sec­onds a child dies from pre­ventable dis­eases caused by con­tam­i­nated wa­ter sources and poor san­i­ta­tion. Lack of ad­e­quate san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties and school not only af­fects chil­dren’s health and well­be­ing but it also pre­vents them from reach­ing their full po­ten­tials and break­ing the

vi­cious cy­cle of poverty. The WASH pro­gram ac­tions are not only bring­ing clean wa­ter and de­cent toi­let fa­cil­i­ties to dis­ad­van­taged schools in which toi­lets po­ten­tial but also fo­cus­ing a lot on pro­mot­ing good hy­giene prac­tice and in­creas­ing lo­cal part­ners and teach­ers’ ca­pac­ity. We join hands with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, schools and spon­sors at dif­fer­ent lev­els to bring the com­mu­ni­ties to­gether to cre­ate con­ta­gious prac­ti­cal, life-trans­form­ing and self-sus­tain­able ef­fects.

Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1992, Xuan has sup­ported over 5,000 dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren plus thou­sands of in­di­rect lo­cal ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

How do you en­sure that funds and pro­ceeds go to chil­dren in need and are not be­ing used for over­head costs?

Xuan’s fi­nan­cial re­sources are ef­fi­ciently al­lo­cated: 80 per­cent of our bud­get goes di­rectly to our projects. The re­main­ing per­cent­age is dis­bursed to cover fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and op­er­at­ing costs. Ini­tially, Xuan de­pended on the in-kind ser­vices of vol­un­teers. As it grew, there was a need for re­flec­tion and we re­al­ized that although en­thu­si­as­tic in­di­vid­u­als’ con­tri­bu­tions are in­valu­able, Xuan should not rely only on vol­un­teers. It’s high time we in­vested in pas­sion­ate skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple who could ded­i­cate their time and work re­ally hard to im­ple­ment pro­grams with qual­ity, ef­fi­ciency and trans­parency. Th­ese team mem­bers are held ac­count­able for ev­ery sin­gle ac­tion we take from plan­ning to fundrais­ing, op­er­at­ing, ex­e­cut­ing and mon­i­tor­ing projects—to both the ones we serve and those who sup­port us. We care very much about op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency, and the in­vest­ment in em­ploy­ing the team and build­ing up their ca­pac­ity is based on a gauge to fore­cast, mea­sure and eval­u­ate per­for­mance, progress and im­pacts.

What are some of Xuan’s achieve­ments and learn­ing curves?

Bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to sup­port a cause is easy; work­ing and stay­ing to­gether through years af­ter years is chal­leng­ing. Xuan is one of the first INGOs in Viet­nam with the long­est his­tory of sup­port­ing chil­dren. We are cel­e­brat­ing our 25th an­niver­sary this year.

We have em­pow­ered more than 5,000 needy chil­dren in Da Nang, Kon Tun, Nha Trang, Hue, Can Tho, Tra Vinh and Ca Mau. This year marked the of­fi­cial WASH ground-break­ings of 25 schools in Kon Tun, Tra Vinh and Ca Mau. Be­sides that, over 1,000 less-priv­i­leged chil­dren have grown up from “Fam­ily 4,” a shel­ter hav­ing been sup­ported by Xuan in part­ner­ship with Street Chil­dren Pro­gram in Da Nang City for al­most 25 years. All of th­ese achieve­ments could not have been at­tained with­out a pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted team and faith­ful sup­port­ers.

Bo Chanh, cen­ter

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