Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam (HSCV) was founded in 2002 to help orphans, homeless children and other children living in poverty in Hanoi and surrounding areas through the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health and education.
The organisation was set up by American Chuck DeVet and his daughter Annetta, following a visit to Vietnam in 2001. Their experiences drove them to want to help needy children in the country, and after further visits they decided to set up HSCV in the Hanoi area, which was less well served by charitable organisations than the south.
HSCV operates a number of programmes: educational scholarships, rice distribution, bicycle donations, wheelchair distribution, orthopaedic surgery, medical missions and orphanages.
One of HSCV’s newest initiatives is a girls’ foster home in Hanoi. Opened in 2011, it is now home to 14 girls between the ages of four and 18. The girls are supported at the home by a head of home, a house mother, a social worker and two assistants. They attend school, are provided with meals and receive medical care. The difference the home makes to these girls is evident: it is a nurturing environment in which they can overcome past problems with the aid of the helpers and the companionship of the other girls. The girls arrived at the home through a number of different channels, such as Blue Dragon, a foundation that supports kids in crisis in Vietnam.
A new home near the existing location was rented this year and the Hanoi International Women’s Club has donated funds for the purchase of essential equipment for setting up another house for girls.
The children helped by HSCV have diverse backgrounds. Huong and one of her sisters are an example. They resorted to begging after their father deserted the family and were left in the care of their maternal grandmother. When their grandmother died they moved in with their cousin and her brother, and the four of them, all under 18, lived in a squalid one-room apartment, supported solely by the cousin’s meagre income. Huong now lives at the girls’ foster home, is an excellent student and helps the other girls with their studies and daily life; although she’s always wanted to be a singer, she now wants to become a social worker to help vulnerable girls like herself. Her youngest sister, aged five, has also now moved into the foster home.
Mai grew up in Dien Bien province. Her father earnt a small living as a carpenter but her mother was unable to work due to a heart condition. When Mai was three she fell into her father’s saw and severed her right arm above the elbow. Despite this, she learnt to ride a bike, wash clothes, cook, sew and knit. Later, both of her parents were imprisoned for drug-related incidents and her father died while in prison. While her mother was in prison in Hanoi, Mai applied for an educational scholarship from HSCV and studied at the Special Education Division at the Hanoi Teacher Training University. She has now graduated and plans to return to her hometown to work as a teacher.
The money donated by Travelfish.org -- US$100 -- will be used to purchase sewing equipment for the girls’ foster homes such as scissors, braid, thread and material. To both entertain the girls during the school holidays and provide them with skills, a sewing machine has been purchased for the new home and a sewing programme will be set up by a member of HIWC. Items made will be sold at the charity bazaar in November.
The HSCV website provides more information on the foster home and other programmes. It also makes it easy to donate! Each program provides a breakdown of funds needed for its operation so, for example, you can choose to donate a bicycle, sponsor a child in education, pay the rent on the foster home or just donate a fixed sum.
Each month a Travelfish.org writer selects a charity or non-government organisation that they believe does excellent work on their patch in Southeast Asia. They write about them and we donate $100, a small way for us to give something back to the region. If you're looking to give back too, please consider giving a little cash as well.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.