The First Year


IMG_0520 Scholarship ceremony in the Quang Nam Province

 

Success!  100 kids in school project now a reality

 

We are delighted to announce commencement of our first Vietnam project in Quang Nam Province on 25th August, 2012. Our local partners, the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) had pinpointed the districts of Nam Giang, Bac Tra My and Nong Son as needing support, so having accepted their choice we travelled to meet our first 100 students and their parents.

Quang Nam Province is immediately south of Danang, a bustling central coastal city. Much of the province is mountainous, and that places pressure on roadways and communications, with additional challenges regularly posed by heavy rainfall that can cause flooding and landslides. Heavy repair bills probably drain finances for infrastructure improvement in outlying areas.

Our relationship with the WU is documented in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets out guidelines of conduct of operations as well as the responsibilities of both parties and we are delighted at the professionalism displayed at all times by our partner.  Two senior executives from Hanoi accompanied us for the three memorable days it took to bed down our project.

Platypus has a policy of equal opportunity, and the WU observed that magnificently: our Class of 2012 comprises 7 ethnic groups: Kinh, Cotu, Kadong, Kor, Monong, Tay and Tho. Students will be attending 6th grade to 11th grade, and graduating students will in due course be replaced by newcomers. We are happy to support students who hunger for education, not only the academically gifted, so student ratings at commencement are: Excellent (13) Good (65) Above average (4) and average (18). Girls outnumber boys by 76 to 24, and dreams of future careers include tour guides, a doctor, teachers and a professional footballer.

The WU had suggested our assistance be awarded as scholarships, and arranged ceremonies that were attended by students and proud relatives. We met a grandfather who was bursting with pride: his grandchildren live with him at the moment because of problems with the parental dwelling. A widow is delighted – she is raising 7 children on her own and is thrilled one child will graduate from high school.

Each family received $100 to help them through the year – a significant sum in those parts. Primary school is fee free, but the money may be spent on bicycles (getting to school is quite a challenge for some), high school fees, uniforms, books and stationery or even food (in cases where a student may otherwise have earned a wage to supplement the family income). The families must submit a budget to the WU detailing how the money will be spent; the WU will approve the plan and will follow up student progress through their wide network of field officers. We will receive report cards at the end of each semester, along with any comments about the students’ progress or welfare, and will update our database.

In the meantime, the project costs $13,000 per annum to run, and we must concentrate on raising funds. A little help goes a long way. In Australian terms, the annual cost of educating a single Platypus student is the equivalent of about a reasonable flat white coffee at a decent establishment twice a month. Or a monthly glass of very ordinary wine at your local eatery. For smokers, two cigarettes a week would do it, but our option will do a lot more good!

The above options give you momentary gratification. Forfeiting one of your treats to the above extent will change several lives. Your future donations will be most welcome and very much appreciated.

Bob Greer – Chairman

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