Clubbing Together

Written by: Nguyen Truong Linh, Huynh Thi Diem Chau, Tran Hiep Hung, Y P Huong Bya, Ho Thi Quynh Tram, Nguyen Ba Chinh

When Minh first came to our club, he couldn’t speak and he used sign language to communicate,” explained Ms Oanh. “But now he can read, understand simple arithmetic and put on his own clothes.”

Ms Oanh is a teacher at a club for children with disabilities in District 8 of Ho Chi Minh City and described her experience with one of her students, Minh, who is 18 years old.

Minh has Down’s syndrome and has attended Ms Oanh’s ‘Vung Tin (Trust) Club’ since he was eight. His father repairs electrical goods and his mother has been a housewife since breaking her legs.

“Being in the club is really good because I have lots of friends here and Ms Oanh has helped me to learn to draw,” said Minh, who belongs to World Vision’s sponsorship programme.

“I hope to get married someday and I want to become a tailor, so I can support my parents when they get older,” Minh continued.

Besides Minh, many other children and teenagers with disabilities have made significant progress since joining the club, in terms of language and other communication skills and physical and mental development, which helps them in their home lives and in integrating in their communities.

The Vung Tin Club was established in 2002 and has grown since then thanks to the support of World Vision and the local authorities to improve its facilities and train its teachers in relevant skills to educate and care for young people with disabilities and deal with specific challenges they face.

“Sometimes we feel happy at work and sometimes being at the club can get you down,” revealed another teacher, Ms Nguyen Thi Cong.

“We’ve all probably thought of quitting at one time or another because our salaries aren’t very high. But who would look after the youngsters if we did? We love them so much,” she added. “All the teachers here need to be kind hearted and have a lot of patience.”

Representatives of the local authorities with whom World Vision cooperates have confirmed that they will continue their support for the operation of Minh’s club and other similar clubs for children with disabilities in the district.

“Even if World Vision phases out its support for the clubs, we’ll ensure that they continue operating,” confirmed Mr Nguyen Minh Tri, Vice Head of the local Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. “If so, we’ll look for other sources to run the clubs and also work to increase the number of students who attend.”