Sixteen-year-old Diep lives in a village in northern Vietnam. When she began school more than a decade ago, teachers relied on textbooks for sharing knowledge.
There were no computers in the classroom or ways to access the internet. Living in an isolated rural area, children like Diep rarely had the opportunity to travel to other areas of the country, let alone the opportunity to connect with the world outside Vietnam.
Ten years later, and life for Diep and other young people in her neighbourhood is very different, with ChildFund Vietnam now implementing a range of child-focused initiatives in her community.
ChildFund’s projects focus on child rights and child protection, education, health, and wellbeing for children. ChildFund Vietnam also prioritises building the resilience of young people, by giving them the opportunity to take part in sports, life skills learning, and supporting their participation in local decision-making processes.
Today, not only has Diep been given the opportunity to take part in organised sport for the first time, she has a new role as a Pass It Back rugby coach and can be found blowing her referee’s whistle while her all-girl team practise their skills on a local field.
As a coach with Pass It Back, Diep is giving young people in her community the opportunity to play, learn and grow through sport.
Pass It Back is a unique program run by ChildFund Rugby that gives young people like Diep opportunities to play, learn, and grow through sport. After games are played, Diep moderates discussions with her team on a wide range of issues – from healthy relationships, and gender equality, to financial planning and creating safe communities.
Diep also has some new pen pals who are giving her a unique insight into life in other parts of the world. Through her regular exchange of letters with child sponsors Kent and Sarah Sweitzer in the USA, Diep is learning about the world outside her neighbourhood. “I know more about my sponsors’ lives, their customs, the weather, and changes in their society,” Diep says.
Meeting Kent and Sarah in-person only strengthened this connection. During their visit in 2019, Diep took on the role of local tour guide, showing them around her community, sharing a meal, and, of course, giving them the opportunity to see her rugby skills in action.
Diep says her love for rugby grew quickly. “I admired the coaches for their knowledge, so I wanted to become a coach to show children how they can be confident and protect themselves,” Diep says.
After returning home, the Sweitzers decided to extend their help to Diep’s community by providing her secondary school with 16 new computers and other equipment.
Diep and her younger brother Du use the new computers donated by ChildFund supporters Kent and Sarah.
It was a transformative gift for a school where students, including Diep’s little brother Du, had few opportunities to use modern technology. Students’ faces were flushed with excitement as they moved the cursor and typed key-by-key for the very first time.
As students’ learning moved beyond the classroom, they became more engaged in their lessons. “I want to use the computers to learn English so that I can travel abroad, talk to foreigners, and write a letter to sponsors in their own language,” Du says.