The Da Nang Centre for Street Children Support has helped hundreds of children re-integrate into the community since it began operating 15 years ago. The Vietnamese Non-Governmental Organisation was established by retired Government employees in the central city of Da Nang.
In the early days, the children they assisted were illiterate, physically ill and had a negative attitude to life. But now that has all changed.
Pham Van Hung from the central Ha Tinh province would never think that he could attend school and earn around US$65 a month. At the age of 10, his mother died, his father re-married, and difficult living conditions forced the boy with a deformed leg to the streets of Da Nang to beg. But once he was admitted to the Center, he gradually regained his confidence. Hung says, Da Nang’s Centre for Street Children Support is his second home.
“With the Centre’s assistance, other children including me have found a more stable life,” Hung said. “The Centre staff, who we call mums and dads, help us not only get through life but also in our study and work.”
18-year-old Tran Van Hoa from Thua Thien Hue province has lived at the centre for eight years. Born with a heart disease, Hoa can’t remember how many times he has been hospitalised. All that he knows is the worst period left him bedridden for a year. However, the Centre has appointed a number of people to take turns caring for him. Hoa’s health has now improved after a costly heart operation.
“I feel so lucky to be a member of the Centre,” Hoa said. “People here are very kind to me. If I still lived at home in Thua Thien Hue, I would die, as my family is extremely poor.”
While there are just a handful of children at the Centre, all have their own stories to tell. Many of them don’t have a home or even a name. The Centre has registered birth certificates, identity cards and given them names.
“We think they are our own children, so we can love and look after them properly,” said Mai thi Hien who works at the Centre. “Children have their own stories, we must understand them to help them re-integrate into the community.”
The Centre has helped children not only access education and vocational training, but given sports practice and helped find jobs for them, says Management Board member Nguyen Thi Phan.
“We try to find jobs for children as soon as they complete vocational training,” Ms Ngan said. “When they are grown up and leave the Centre, we even help them find a partner and visit them when they get married and have children. Every year, we check with those who have re-integrated into the community to see if they need additional assistance.”
VOV - (05/04/2006)