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!