By Sister Chan Khong If you visit Vietnamese cities, you will see many governmental or private schools. Plum Village, with the help of friends, sponsors 346 schools set up by the people themselves with humble materials in remote mountainous areas. These schools look much poorer than city schools, but their quality is deep. Children learn to calm their body and mind before starting class. In a city like Saigon, teachers have a monthly salary of $35-$50. But the Buddhist youths who bicycle ten miles to teach in these poor areas receive only $20 a month. They accept this job with joy because they can bring a spiritual dimension to the children 's lives.
This letter is from one of these teachers, expressing gratitude for our support of the program. Please consider sharing your resources to help sustain this program. North Americans may send donations to the Community of Mindful Living, P.O. Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707. Europeans may send donations to Eglise Bouddhique Unifiee, care of Sister Gioi Nghiem, 13 Martineau, 33580 Dieulivol, France.
Dear Respected Thay, sisters, and benefactors, Spring is about to come. People everywhere are joyfully preparing for Tet. But in my village during these freezing days, everyone is taking advantage of every moment of sunshine to plant seeds. From season to season, the parents of the children. in my class are busy working on their small farms from early morning til very late. They have little time left to take care of their children, who stay home and often. become very dirty by playing in the mud. Sometimes they are fed and sometimes they are left hungry.
With your financial support, the 60 children in my village have full day care kindergarten with two classes. Every day, they have milk to drink and warm food to eat at lunch. They have an education, play time, and a reglliar nap. They have become healthier and cleaner. Seeing this, the parents in the village are very happy and grateful. At the beginning of the school year, we measllred the childrens' height and weight and found that almost half suffered from malnutrition, four of them severely. We measured them again three months later and there was a noticeable improvement already.
With your help, our village's difficulties have lessened. I will do my best to teach the children to be worthy of your love and care. May the Three Jewels support your health. -- Vinh Thai Mong