A woman from northern Vietnam has been traveling across the country for nearly ten years to spread optimism to disadvantaged children.
Vu Thi Dung, a 43-year-old woman from Nam Dinh Province, has spent the past six years ensuring that hundreds of the country’s most disadvantaged children have the opportunity to receive an education.
Dung’s passion for helping underprivileged Vietnamese children was first ignited about ten years ago during a trip through some of the country’s most remote regions when she first realized just how starved for education rural children were.
Now, after reinventing herself from corporate manager to charity fund founder, Dung has spent the past six years footing the tuition bill for hundreds of underprivileged children each year though her “Quy Khat Vong” (Hope Charity Fund).
Quy Khat Vong was first established in 2012, alongside Ngoi Nha Khat Vong (House of Hope) – a group home where 260 orphans, aged ten to 18, receive monthly financial support for their tuition fee, food, accommodation, and the opportunity to attend free English courses.
Fifteen-year-old Pham Thi Hoai Thuong from central Vietnam, is just one of Dung’s “children.” Thuong was first taken in by Ngoi Nha Khat Vong after her mother passed away.
“[Dung’s] warm embrace gave me the strength to change my life for the better,” Thuong shared, adding that Dung’s love gave her the inspiration to move past the depression that had crippled her since her mother’s death.
|A photo of Pham Thi Hoai Thuong. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Pham Quang Vinh, 20, is another child of Ngoi Nha Khat Vong.
As a teenager, Vinh’s family was put through the financial wringer, forcing him to weigh his options: drop out of school and help support his family, or finish his education and watch his family suffer.
Thanks to Dung, however, Vinh was given the financial support he needed to help his family while finishing his education. He now works at a five-star hotel in Hanoi and is able to provide for his parents.
“She’s not my biological mother but she treats me with love and care,” said Vinh.
For some Ngoi Nha Khat Vong children, a high school education just isn’t enough.
Tran Viet Hoang, a visually impaired student from central Vietnam, was able to springboard himself into a four-year scholarship worth VND22 billion (US$95,600) to Fulbright University thanks to Dung’s emotional and financial support.
The gratitude Dung has received from those she’s helped is reciprocal.
With each letter she received from her “children” she becomes more thankful that they’ve made the most of the opportunities she’s given them by creating successful careers for themselves or attending prestigious universities.
“I just happy to be the one who wiped away their tears and helped them build a better life,” she said.
|Vu Thi Dung. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
But even as she gave her own approval to hundreds of children, Dung’s own family wasn’t always so approving towards her. Some members of her family even called her Quy Khat Vong “crazy.”
“I believe that time will prove that I’m correct,” Dung shared about her decision.
Quy Khat Vong has attracted funding from over 70 philanthropists and volunteers to help offer summer vacation projects as a gift for children each year.
This year, they are planning on projects that combine agricultural education and tourism for children to appreciate Vietnamese cultural values and help them gain a better understanding of how to be responsible community members.
“I want nothing more but to see them grow up happily and become good people,” Dung proclaimed.