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Stories: Children, Community, Future

Progress through the eyes of a sponsorship volunteer

Writing letters builds friendships, self-esteem and basic literacy for children, and keeps sponsors in touch with their lives and progress. A complete exchange of letters takes about 16 weeks (six to eight weeks each way). This time allows for translation and transportation to and from the child, who may live in a remote area. We rely on a network of community volunteers to collect the letters and often deliver them on foot to each child.

Vui is part of a unique postal service in the remote province of Cao Bang in northeast Vietnam.

For eight years the veteran volunteer, who is now in her early 50s, has been delivering sponsorship letters on foot to about 70 children in her village.

The two-hour walk takes her through mountainous scenery, lush rice paddies and sugarcane farms but it’s the destination – and her work there – that Vui looks forward to.

She gets to watch the faces of the children light up when they open the letters, which have come from sponsors from all over the world.

Sometimes there’s a greeting card or a gift included.

“I remember the time when one of the sponsored children received a letter together with a poster about washing hands; at first she could not figure out what to do with the poster,” says Vui.

“She fell in love with the drawings and I explained to her about how to wash her hands and how good practices can keep her healthy.

“It was among the many times I saw how sponsorship can benefit children, beyond what we can imagine.”

Vui is among 600 volunteers helping to deliver more than 42,000 sponsorship products every year to children in ChildFund development areas in Vietnam, including Cao Bang.

Every month there are at least 30 to 40 letters in exchange between the children and their sponsors, says Vui.

“Some of the children are quite small so they have not been able to write and their parents are not always fluent in Vietnamese writing so I am happy to help them write out their thoughts,” she says.

“I find my joy in working with children and their families on letters.”

“I find my joy in working with children and their families on letters.”

Trong (pictured) is among many children in Vietnam Vui has helped. Since ChildFund started working in Cao Bang in 2010, more than 6,700 children and their families have benefited from development programs.

Dozens of schools, healthcare stations and water supply systems have been built, and hundreds of income generation activities have been implemented as a result of the support from individual sponsors and the Australian and New Zealand governments.

“We can see the positive changes daily in our life,” Vui says. “Children have a better place to study and good quality healthcare services are available within our commune.

“We are thankful for sponsors in supporting us to improve our living and make a better future for our children.

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