Chairman and founding member since 2011
Mobile: 0421 633 145
Platypus was formed in 2011 by a group of friends in Perth after several years of research into the history of Vietnam, with particular reference to the enormous war damage caused in more recent times.
Our main aim was to help children from poor families obtain an education: this was to help not only provide them with a better future but would enable them to better care for their parents and elderly relatives in a country that has no safety net for the old and infirm. Over time generous support has enabled us to expand our activities.
Our scholarships programme is now in its 13th year. We support 142 school children in Ha Giang Province in the north and 100 in central Quang Nam Province near Danang. 76% of are scholarship holders are girls and 24% boys. Our students are drawn from 12 ethnic groups. We particulary target our support to students from ethnic minorities. We are proud to be partnered with the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU), the premier women’s organisation in Vietnam.
Students must be from the two lowest levels of poverty and we pay special attention to family backgrounds with a view to helping make a difference. We are not focussed on academic excellence as these folk usually compete at a massive disadvantage to their city cousins. Most of our students achieve average marks and we are proud of them for persevering, often under difficult conditions..
The majority of our students are female since in rural Vietnam responsibilities are heavily weighted towards the woman of the house, and historically women were educationally disadvantaged.
A year 12 certificate can be life-changing in not only finding work but also as a means of obtaining higher education, enabling our scholarship students to leave their remote communes to a life with more prospects.
Micro-banking has created opportunities for families to transition from poverty to sustainable income; although we operate on a small scale, we have had great success with a 100% repayment rate. Families benefit in many ways, permanently.
Along the way, we have provided 140 interest-free loans of $300-$500 for 2 years to women in poor communities. It has been exciting to see illiterate women become entrepreneurs as they build up family finances to educate their children and obtain better health care and a higher standard of living. These women are hugely driven to care for their families, so there have been no loan defaults.
Many country folk are wary of lenders of money due to unscrupulous operators in the northern mountains. They also lack confidence in their ability to repay debt, so we gift a single sow to a household and watch the woman of the house become an entrepreneur. She then hands back one piglet to our local partners who gift it to someone else on the same terms. This is a gift that keeps on giving.
Along this same way we occasionally are able to provide self-help programs. Providing a single pig has been most successful, enabling women to become successful businesspeople. These gifts have sometimes been extended to ownership of ducks, geese, chickens and part ownership of a horse or cow. In the mountains that is wealth.
We enjoy the assistance of a Hanoi law graduate in a liaison role and she works closely with a counterpart from the Women’s Union who in turn reports to the International Director, a valued friend of 12 years standing. We enjoy strong and unwavering support.
From time to time we are able to provide some vocational assistance to our students. A young and timid mountain Hmong is now doing well as a third-year veterinary science student at university. Young girls have had specialized catering training and one Kinh young lady graduated with a business degree and now plans an exciting future.
OUR SUPPORT IN VIETNAM
The VWU has a strong infrastructure in every province and keeps registers of every family deserving assistance in the country. Our values align perfectly with theirs, so our relationship remains strong and cordial.
VWU keeps us informed of events on the ground in communes and villages as well as of progress in the many social programs they run.
Communication and social grace are crucial in Vietnam so our Liaison Officer Anh ensures that any Australian lack of finesse is softened so that our strong commitment is not hampered by occasional excessive zeal.
Nguyen Linh, International Director of the VWU was instrumental in helping us set up Platypus in 2010 and remains a great Platypus friend as does her superb assistant Do Van Trang. We are accompanied on our annual scholarship trips by at least one of these friends.
In partnership with Asian Lotus Travel, Platypus is proud to offer Indochina motorcycle tours. Click here for details of our forthcoming tours
In the meanwhile, if you would like to join our Vietnam Motorcycle Tours mailing list or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for prompt attention.
Platypus holds a number of local events for supporters each year. Our most recent event in May 2023, featuring Vietnamese delicacies from Bunn Mee and premium wines from Burch Family Wine, was a tremedous success raised substantial funds for our programs. Our thanks to all who attended.
If life has been kind to you and yours, please consider sharing a little of that by selling your yacht or best car, visiting our website and donating the proceeds to become a Platypus Legend. Seriously, maybe just give a little to a great cause.
We do whatever we can and have been aided and abetted by the generosity of kind souls who help us help people they will never meet and who will never be able to thank them. In Vietnam, a little goes a very long way and the events we have run over the last 11 years have improved the fortunes of many families.
We are often staggered at the generosity of our supporters, as well as the kindness of strangers, such as the newcomer who donated $10,000 in June 2021 that has now doubled our micro-banking kitty. Two long-term supporters bid a total $10,000 for a “Trip to Nowhere” at our April 2021 event and in March 2022 another long-term supporter donated $10,000. A very challenging outlook quickly became an exciting reality.
A member of our local Viet community arrived as a child refugee and is now a successful professional. He donated generously, saying “I know if I had remained in Vietnam I would be tending goats.” Not everyone sees things that way but the world would be a far better place if we could all borrow his eyeballs occasionally.