By Sister Chan Khong
Schools in the Remote and Destitute Villages
We have established 186 schools throughout Vietnam for the poorest children forgotten by the human family. The children live in the most remote areas where no foreign organizations come to help. We hope to increase the support of 50 more classes—12 in four remote villages in South Vietnam under the care of the Saigon Sangha; 12 classes in four remote villages under the care of the Phu Khanh Sangha; 26 classes in several mountainous villages near the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Thua Thien, Quang Tri, and Quang Binh under the care of the Hue Sangha.
Four School Nursery Homes
In these areas, the parents are too poor to afford to stay at home with their babies. They leave them alone without care or under the care of older siblings, and there are many tragic accidents. Children need beds, sheets, blankets, plates. The organizers need facilities such as wash rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, classes, and play rooms. There are two existing child care centers and another to be started.
Our workers are in the practice of getting the support of local people to donate land and buildings, but we also need to restore the donated land and buildings to a proper school home, and funds are needed to feed the hungry children and cover the salaries of the workers. The Community of Mindful Living in the United States supports one school, and the Maitreya Funds in Germany supports two schools. Although hundreds of such school homes are needed by millions of these young shoots of life, we have chosen to focus our work in the remote destitute areas, and we go slowly but deeply. Children and teachers practice together to live in peace, to respect life, and respect each other.
Financing Medical Supplies
We have three teams of medical doctors in Saigon—two in Hue, and one in Hanoi—who visit the most remote areas every three months where there are no hospitals, clinics, or even medical centers. We diagnose the diseases, give care, and distribute medicine. The work of the physicians is free, but they spend $300 for medicine and transportation each visit. During one day visit, four physicians and 12 assistants help 250-420 patients. We finance $3,600 yearly for our Saigon teams, $2,400 for the Hue teams, and $3,600 for the Hanoi teams. Every year our six teams of physicians spend $9,600. Instead of visiting every three months, we hope our physicians can visit every month.
Helping Six Self-Supporting Villages
Our well-trained social workers are sent to the poorest villages in Thua Thien Province—Luong Mai, Loc Hoa, Duong Mong, and Ha Tru—and Quang Tri Province—Trung An and Ha Trung—to improve the life style of peasants to help them be self-supporting in the future. They will make improvements in these areas of work:
a. Caring for Children
Peasants are inspired by the presence of our workers and have volunteered to build facilities—school and a nursery day-care center—out of bamboo and palm leaves for their children. We only pay school teachers $240 (x 5 = $1,200) and the salaries for two of the four workers who care for the toddlers ($480).
b. Improving Health
Local people will prepare a garden of herbal medicinal plants. They may receive a gift of $500 from us to improve the storage of herbal medicine. Our workers train people to use herbal medicine to heal themselves. For the diseases which need Western medicine, teams of physicians may come every month to improve the health conditions of the village.
We set up a loan credit to help peasants borrow money to set up their own little business. Each village will be given a loan of $3,000. Our workers will choose the projects and carefully share the loan with various families who are in need but who have potential ability to help themselves. The peasant will pay back the loan on a monthly basis after the first two years of receiving the loan.
Each self-supporting village needs $5,300 per year to start. We believe that in five years, they can pay their own teachers and make other improvements.