Introducing Quynh Doan

Introducing Quynh Doan, our new Programme Assistant.

Join us in welcoming Quynh Doan, our new Programme Assistant. Quynh is already well known to Hue Help because she grew up at Hue Children’s Shelter. After graduating from Hue University of Economics, Quynh gained experience working as an accountant for a local company before joining our team in November 2017. Quynh will work both with Hue Children’s Shelter and on our Swimming for Safety programme.  In her first month she got stuck in helping us with our end of year accounts and administration, as we conclude this year’s programmes. Quynh also organised activities for the children at the shelter, which she really enjoyed.

Quynh says: “I am very happy to join the Hue Help team. Me and my friends at Hue Children’s Shelter were supported by Hue Help for many years. When I was in university, Hue Help continued to help me with tuition fees and extra classes. Working with Hue Help means I can now stay in close contact with the kids and the place that I lived for over 20 years.”

For our part, we are super proud of what Quynh has achieved so far, and we’re delighted to have her join our the team.

Water Safety Education in the Classroom – first ever in Hanoi

Water Safety Education in the Classroom, Viet Hung Primary School, Long Bien, Hanoi

 In 2016-2017 we worked with other iNGOs to create a classroom based water safety education lesson. Our friends in Swim Vietnam took the lead and the final version, completed earlier this year, is excellent. The approach has been tried and tested in Quang Nam and Quang Binh, and Swim for Life are monitoring and evaluating the results with the School of Public Health in Indiana, USA, the Aquatics Institute, Bloomington and iNGO Golden West. This approach to educating children has real potential. It is low resource, good fun and takes only a few hours to deliver. Training the trainer is not difficult. Teachers only need to absorb the relatively simple subject matter.  Furthermore, despite our best efforts,  far too few children have access to professional, safe and good quality swimming lessons. And the season for swimming is short. People swim only in the hottest summer months. The winter months are considered too cold to swim, even when the pool is indoors. So classroom training that can be done all year round is a good complimentary activity.

With their teachers using a simple, fun and interactive lesson (a powerpoint with cartoons, video clips and Q and A),  the children learn basic water safety rules and information:  do not go into the water if you can’t swim, go with an adult who can swim even if you can swim yourself, how to go in and out of the water safely (e.g. do not jump in head first). In a practical part of the lesson, the children learn how to perform safe land-based reaching and throwing rescues, reinforcing the golden rule that you should never, ever, jump in to save someone else. Even if you can swim, rescuing someone from the water is the job of skilled lifeguards.  Jumping in highly risky and you are likely to drown too.

In September 2017, Viet Hung Primary, Long Bien, Hanoi approached us to ask for our help. Their PE teacher Mr Thanh trained as a IFSTA teacher with Hue Help in summer 2017 and recommended us. Principal Ninh and Vice Principal Thu were motivated to teach the children in their school partly because of first hand experience. Principal Ninh’s aunt died in a multiple drowning when she tried to rescue others, and Thu was nearly drowned herself when someone struggling and panicking in the water pulled her under.  Moreover, two children from Long Bien schools tragically drowned over the summer holidays.

In November 2017, we trained 14 teachers from Viet Hung Primary, plus Principal Ninh and VP Thu. The teachers have already taught 600 Grade 4 and 5 children, with Grades 1-3 in the coming weeks. Now all the teachers at the school want to train, and other schools in the District have said they’d like to learn more.


Hue Help 10th Birthday Celebrations 2007-2017

Our 10th Birthday Celebrations.

Hue Help started out in 2006/7 working with the Children’s shelter in Hue City. The shelter is home to around 40 children who have either no parents, or parents who are too poor or sick to care for them. The shelter provides a home, education and friendship.

In 2007, the shelter faced financial difficulty and possible closure. After discussions with local government, shelter staff and children, we all agreed that the shelter should stay open. For a few years from January 2008 onwards, Hue Help was the main sponsor of the home, in co-operation with the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Thua Thien Hue (DOLISA). We also made a commitment to improve the quality of health, education and well-being of all the children to create an environment suitable for their growth and development.

Some of the key changes we have made over the last 10 years to 2017 include:

  • Increasing the quantity and quality of food;
  • Assisting nearly all of the children to enter mainstream education;
  • Providing additional tutors and extra educational classes and building a library;
  • Organising extra curricular activities, such as art and music classes and excursions;
  • Helping sustain the shelter’s core funding and introducing financial accountability;
  • Providing international English teachers and social work students;
  • Organising a range of summer activities, including swimming and water safety through our Swimming for Safety programme.

What has this meant for the orphanage?

  • Issues related to malnutrition have been tackled effectively;
  • Many of the students are now achieving the expected academic results for their age groups, and some are even within the top quarter of their classes.
  • Quite a few students have won University places and graduated successfully, unthinkable before;
  • The home is now a stable and safe place for children to grow up, and core funding is provied by the local authorities.

 From 2011, we began our Swimming for Safety programme endeavouring to save young lives through teaching swimming and water safety . Vietnam has one of the highest rate of child drownings in South East Asia. Official government statistics suggest an average of 10 children aged 1-19 die every day – a “silent epidemic”.   The real figure could be higher. More children die from drowning than in road traffic accidents, the second biggest cause of child death. Boys are three times more likely to drown than girls.

Our Swimming for Safety programme is based on the International Federation of Swimming Teachers’ Association (IFSTA) curriculum. It is designed to help the Vietnamese authorities tackle the problem of child drowning in the most effective way. We teach water safety as well as swimming, and we help build capacity by training the trainer. Since 2011, we have trained over 300 Vietnamese school teachers in swimming and water safety, qualifying nearly 20 as trainers themselves. And we have worked with them as they have gone on to teach nearly 10,000 children how to swim and be safe around water.

Our programme includes: Floating, Treading Water, Sculling, Talking, Reaching and Throwing Rescues, First Aid and CPR (for the teacher training) and of course, Breast Stroke, Back Stroke and Freestyle (Front Crawl).

We teach in local environments – rivers, lagoons and in the open sea – under safe supervision – or in swimming pools, where available. We run most of our training courses in flood-prone Thua Tien Hue province but have also held courses in Haiphong and most recently in summer 2017 in Hanoi. In cooperation with the Vietnamese authorities, we are hoping to expand our programme in Hanoi. We are scoping a programme working with local communities in Quang Binh. We have been asked by the government to help with pilot programmes in other high risk provinces and, along with other water safety INGOS, to assist in the development of a national survival swimming curriculum.

We had not one, but two, fantastic parties in September to celebrate all these achievements in a decade working in Vietnam. We held a Water Safety Demonstration and party at The Fitness Village (TFV) in Hanoi, attended by ambassadors, school children of all nationalities and swimming teachers, including some we recently qualified as ISFTA instructors. Huge thanks to TFV, 7 Bridges Beer, Oriberry coffee and to friends who brought party food.  The children at Hue Shelter also enjoyed a party, complete with Lion Dance, food and games, courtesy of General Manager Anthony Gill and his team from the Nam Hai Four Seasons Resort in Hoi An.  It was great to have such great support from the Hanoi and Hue communities, and we couldn’t have celebrated in such style without them!



Sharing Our Water Safety and Survival Swimming Experience

On 29 June, we were invited by Dr Vu Kim Hoa, Deputy Director of the Department of Child Care and Protection. Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA) to share our experience of swimming and water safety work at a workshop organised in Da Nang (central Vietnam). MOLISA is tasked by the Vietnamese Prime Minister with leading efforts to reduce child drowning. Officials from national and provincial government attended plus the World Health Organisation and other water safety NGOs.

Our friends at Swim for Life / Golden West Foundation also invited us in July to their drowning prevention workshop in Quang Binh province where we presented our low resource, open water model for drowning prevention to Quang Binh officials.   We also agreed to set up a “Collaborative” forum to help us work more in partnership with other INGOs given our shared objective to help reduce child drowning in Vietnam.   The INGOs taking part are the AWSOM Project, Swim for Life Vietnam, Swim Vietnam, Water Safety Vietnam, We Bloom , World Vision Vietnam and Hue Help (Swimming for Safety).

Swimming for Safety in Hanoi

Our pilot project in Vietnam’s capital city began in July with 11 PE teachers from kindergarten, primary or secondary schools in Long Bien District completing an intensive 6 days IFSTA course. They are now teaching water safety and swimming to 50 children from local schools. The teachers and children were chosen by the Long Bien Department of Education (DOET) according to our criteria which included children at risk e.g. because they live near the Red River, or from disadvantaged backgrounds.The children – boys and girls aged 9 -11 have been having a great time since starting their course on 1 August. They will have 18 lessons of 45 minutes and by the end of the course we hope that the majority will be able to swim 25m, tread water, scull and know other survival swimming skills, and understand how to help someone in trouble in the water without risking their own safety.

We’d like to thank the Hanoi International Women’s Club for agreeing to fund our pilot. Our sincere thanks also to British International School (BIS) Hanoi for the use of their super pool and classroom facilities. Also to Vietnamese colleages at PACCOM and Hanoi DOET and Hanoi Department of Foreign Affairs who gave us their help and support. It was a journey but we got there in the end!

Hats off also to our talented teacher trainer, Mr Phuoc Tuong. A full time secondary teacher from Hue, he was one of the first people we trained back in 2011.  He was a “stand-out” trainee and became a teacher trainer. We were delighted he could instruct the Hanoi teachers course. Finally, thanks also to our talented programme officers My and Anh.


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Why does Hue Help needs your support?

Hue Help works in central Vietnam to improve the health, education and future prospects of disadvantaged children. Working through local partners we provide mobile health care, support a home for children, run swimming training for children in flood zones and operate an international volunteer programme. We believe that local people should be at the heart of our programmes, promoting sustainability and ensuring that the people we work with are able to maintain their customs, culture and traditions.

The current situation in Vietnam

In recent years, Vietnam has made great progress with their economic growth reaching 5.32% in 2009. However as a developing country Vietnam still needs help from the international community.

– Vietnam is one of the countries in the world which has been most affected by climate change. This causes extensive and disastrous flooding every year with the poor and the vulnerable most seriously affected.

– The Vietnamese government is working to achieve the eight goals of the Millennium program to improve social and economic conditions by 2015. However the world economic crisis has hindered such development. Due to this non-governmental organizations play a key role in ensuring that progress continues to be made.

As a small organization Hue Help is ideally placed to support the development of local projects, working towards the Millennium goals and specializing in swimming and water safety to help relieve the problems of flooding.