by ATG Advisor to Vietnam Aileen Nguyen
ATG continues our mission to help students from extremely disadvantaged families to go to school. This time, we prepared and distributed 246 sets of gifts comprised of a winter jacket, a school uniform set, and school supplies for this school year to students from Quang Tri Province, a war-torn town 160 km north of Da Nang.
During the Vietnam War, many fierce battles happened here in Quang Tri. Thus, the province infrastructure was destroyed, and most of its people fled town to safety. After the war ended, though people have started to come back, there is still much to rebuild. Students mostly go to schools in old rundown buildings with no heat or A/C. The weather of Quang Tri is bitter cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer.
Most of the students cannot afford warm clothes, uniforms, or even school supplies.
Our volunteer Mãng, who is my cousin and a retired teacher, recognized that most of these poor students have only ever worn hand-me-down clothing. Thus she took time to have each child measured to ensure that their new uniforms and jackets would fit them.
To make the distributions to various schools of Quang Tri, my cousin and her husband had to travel to various schools, often via small roads crossing the rice fields. One time, her motorcycle broke down and had to be pulled with chains. However, the rewards for our volunteers’ efforts were the smiles on the children’s faces when they received the gifts and got to try on the new jackets.
Some of them will wear their first ever brand new uniform. Each set of a gift of a jacket, uniform, and a year’s worth of school supplies cost approximately $16, an equivalent of a fancy cocktail drink in the U.S. However, this gift brings so much hope and happiness to these children and their teachers, too.
We are thankful for our volunteers, Mãng and her husband Hung, who have helped extend the arms of ATG to bring gifts to the students of the Quang Tri province. We also appreciate the ATG team members, friends and supporters whose continuous support has made these trips possible!