YMCA & Sunflower Joint Work Camp
March 5-14, 2004
by Nathalie Nguyen
Nathalie Nguyen, a Sunflower Mission member, was present in Vietnam in March, 2004 to participate in the completion of the classrooms at Thanh Thoi A Elementary School. She also visited classrooms funded by Sunflower Mission in 2003 at Thanh Thoi B. She provided a detailed report on Mo Cay, Thanh Thoi A1, Thanh Thoi B, and An Thoi. She provided many pictures of her trip, which were used for our website and this report. The summaries below were extracted from Nathalie's report:
Thanh Thoi A1:
The principal at Thanh Thoi A1 was very eager and pleased to work with Sunflower Mission. The newly constructed classrooms offer encouragement for the students to continue their education. The existing classrooms were in horrible conditions. The dirt-floor buildings were dilapidated. The windows and doors were mere holes in the wall. There were no fans. The conditions made it almost impossible to learn. At times, there was a lack of teachers. The students were very excited to see people come from such a long way to help build and raise funds for schools. The ribbon ceremony was very emotional for both sides as it represented hope and brighter futures for the students.
Thanh Thoi B:
Sunflower Mission built four classrooms for Thanh Thoi B last year. I was able to meet with their principal, Thay Dung, to discuss student progress and assess the continuing needs after a year of establishment. I attended a classroom lesson of first graders. There is a remarkable difference in the enthusiasm and in the learning environment of the new classroom from a year ago, according to the
principal. The classroom was filled with different learning material and books and posters, whereas the previous classrooms were barren with dirt floors. It is apparent that these classrooms, sponsored by Sunflower Mission, have been successful thus far.
Truong THPT An Thoi
Thai, a volunteer of YMCA-Vietnam and a liaison for Sunflower Mission, and I (We) met with the head teacher, Thay Ngoan. I, with the help of Thai's translation, explained to him what Sunflower Mission is and who we are. He was very excited to learn that there is an organization in the U.S. that is concerned with the welfare of students so far away. We discussed some of the barriers and obstacles that many students face. The number one obstacle that I hear repeated at every school is money and scholarships. Many students who want to attend college simply cannot because they cannot afford to or must stay home to support their families. One parent wept to Thay Ngoan for an hour as she begged the school to give her son, who is a high performing academic student, a scholarship in order to attend college. The school had to turn her son away.