A lead tenant’s story of life in a semi-boarding school
In Vietnam, ChildFund is making it easier for children and young people like 13-year-old T. to go to school.
T.’s family home is about 7km away from the school. But steep slopes and a bumpy road make it difficult for him to get to school and back every day – and when it rains, it is almost impossible. So, he has to live in a cramped shack made of bamboo near the school since the age of seven.
T. is a bright boy with a thirst for learning and like many children living in remote parts of the country, he never wants to give up his education. During the school week, it is very common for students to stay in temporary homes near the school. These are often poorly built and do not protect the children from the harsh weather of the moutainous region. It also means that they must care for themselves from a very young age.
“I used to share a bed with two others, and it was very small and narrow. Every day after school I would come back, cook for myself and do all the washing,” said T.
In 2021 ChildFund Vietnam supported a project to build a two-story semi-boarding house equipped with a kitchen, living area, and bunk beds. The project also organised training for the students to build necessary skills so that they could live independently and lead a healthy life.
At the age of 12, T. moved into the new semi-boarding house and was selected to be the lead tenant of his boarding room.
“The lead tenant’s responsibility is to help and remind other roommates to clean the living place, make their beds and keep personal hygiene,” said T. “I’ve been through various trainings like injury prevention, first-aid, and personal hygiene habits. They were all very useful and fun.”
T. also faces many challenges in this role as a lead tenant and sometimes his roommates do not listen to him.
“Being the lead tenant is not always easy. Sometimes the roommates don’t follow what I say. I always try to set a good example for them,” said T. When challenged, he puts what he learned at the training into action.
“At the training, many of us were shy at the beginning but after some warm-up activities and exciting games, we felt much more engaged and energised. I applied what I learned to guide my roommates effectively. For example, when one can wash his hands right, I give him compliments,” said T.
Now that they have a safe and healthy environment to live in, T. and his peers thoroughly enjoy school life. “I love living in the semi-boarding house. It is nice with lots of trees and flowers. Each room has sanitation stations and bright light bulbs that help us study better. I have also made a lot of friends that I can play with.”
Looking to the future, ChildFund will continue to support children, schools, and communities to improve independent living skills and facilities so that students like T. can have a safe space to learn and grow.
ChildFund began working in Vietnam in 1995 and works in partnership with children, their communities and local institutions to create lasting change, respond to humanitarian emergencies and promote children’s rights.