As the new school year approaches, the air is filled with the promise of fresh beginnings and renewed aspirations. For many, education signifies not only the acquisition of knowledge but also a pathway to a brighter future. Yet, in the rural landscapes of Vietnam and Cambodia, financial limitations often compel children to relinquish their educational ambitions. However, the steadfast dedication of Mekong Plus, in partnership with NGOs Thien Chi, Anh Duong and C.A.O., is catalyzing transformative change. Through the provision of scholarships, Mekong Plus is paving the way for these young minds to embrace education, shatter the chains of poverty, and generate positive change within their communities.
The Belgian TV team with Adrien Joveneau & Alex Vizorek on Mekong Plus’ education programs
In Cambodia, while school fees are free, costly supplementary classes led by the same teachers are crucial. Vietnam faces high school fees and challenges of distance, often necessitating transportation or room rentals, costing up to €50/ month. Prioritizing access to education, a solidarity race involving children, parents, teachers, and government officials is organized annually. Donations from this race, matched manifold by Mekong Plus, offer small grants to 3,500 children, ensuring one more year of schooling for better lifelong income and personal empowerment, especially for girls. Scholarships of €20 for primary/ lower secondary and €40 for upper secondary schools are provided, fostering increased participation and enabling more children to attend school.
Education serves as the paramount key to unlocking opportunities and driving sustainable societal transformation. Acknowledging this pivotal role, Mekong Plus stands resolute in its commitment to ensuring that economic hardships do not become insurmountable barriers to education. Through its scholarship program, Mekong Plus endeavors to bolster students hailing from financially challenged backgrounds, affording them the privilege of pursuing their studies, ascending to higher educational tiers, and actualizing their aspirations. By shouldering the financial weight of school fees, uniforms, and study materials, these scholarships not only empower the students but also radiate transformative effects within their families and communities.
Born into a family of seven, Nguyễn Văn Đạt faced a landscape of financial hardships. His journey to higher education was an uphill battle, with the annual tuition fee of the University of Transport in Ho Chi Minh City beyond reach. Dat’s determination, however, led him to secure a scholarship and work tirelessly to support his studies. The Thien Chi Center’s financial support to Đạt brought a ray of hope, affirming his dedication and providing both financial assistance and motivation. In the face of adversity, Dat’s vision extends beyond himself, aiming to create a brighter future for his siblings and his family, who remain a source of inspiration.
Nguyễn Văn Đạt is working as a Grab Driver to pay for his studies
Pham Thi Dieu
Pham Thi Dieu, a paternal orphan, and her sister, Pham Thi Kim Thuyen, faced hardship after their mother abandoned them following their father’s passing. Their grandparents, particularly their ailing grandfather, struggle to make ends meet. The family’s income relies on their grandmother’s sales at a local market, which barely sustains their daily needs, let alone educational expenses.
Dieu, after completing the 6th grade, was at risk of dropping out due to the financial burden of schooling. Fortunately, since April 2023, she has been receiving a scholarship of 12€ per month for 12 months from Mr. Dang Duy Vinh, a generous sponsor with Belgian-Vietnamese heritage. This support not only motivates Dieu to continue her education but also eases the financial strain on her grandmother during each new school year.
Pham Thi Dieu doing her homeworks
Nguyen Thi Kim Dao, hailing from a struggling family of six, faced numerous challenges, including living in a deteriorating house. Despite her father’s job as a tractor driver, their income couldn’t adequately support the family and the children’s education. They often resorted to borrowing money with high-interest rates to cover educational expenses, including second-hand textbooks and uniforms.
Kim Dao, currently in the 8th grade, received a lifeline in June 2023. Ms. Elena Merola, a generous sponsor from Denmark, has been providing a scholarship of 12€ per month for 12 months. This support not only brings joy to Kim Dao by enabling her to acquire new uniforms and textbooks but also allows her to continue her education, breaking the cycle of financial hardship her family faced.
Nguyen Thi Kim Dao working on her homeworks
Nguyen Trung Thịnh & Nguyễn Trung Trường
Nguyen Trung Thịnh and Nguyễn Trung Trường’s story encapsulates the transformative impact of scholarships in Vietnam. Raised in a financially challenged household, these siblings faced immense hurdles to education. With Mekong Plus’ support, Thịnh and Trường secured scholarships that enabled them to attend university. Their dedication to education, paired with the scholarships, has opened doors to a brighter future, demonstrating how education can transcend adversity.
Nguyen Trung Thịnh doing his homework
Chau’s journey, supported by Anh Duong Center’s scholarship program, exemplifies how education can change destinies. Overcoming financial constraints, Chau pursued her dream of becoming a teacher. Through Anh Duong Center’s scholarship, Chau not only attained her goal but also enriched her family’s life. The scholarship instilled a sense of gratitude and responsibility in Chau, motivating her to contribute back to her community.
The scholarship motivated Chau to contribute back to her community
Sreypich’s story sheds light on the significance of micro loans for higher education. In Cambodia, Sreypich’s dream of attending university seemed hard to reach due to financial constraints. CAO’s support through a scholarship made her dream a reality, enabling her to pursue her studies in Phnom Penh’s Business University. Through determination and hard work, Sreypich not only studies but also works part-time, setting an inspiring example for others.
Nguyen Thi Cam Ly
Nguyen Thi Cam Ly, a diligent student from Vinh Tuong Primary School, faced a series of hardships in her young life. Originally part of a family of four, her parents worked as hired laborers to make ends meet. However, their marriage ended in divorce, and Ly was left to live with her grandmother and mother, who struggled to provide for the family while ensuring Ly’s education.
Tragedy struck when Ly was just seven years old; her mother suffered a sudden stroke and passed away. This left Ly feeling lost, but she was determined to continue her education as she believed it could lead to a better future for herself and her family. She balanced her studies with household chores, helping her grandmother with tasks like snail-catching and vegetable-picking.
Ly, once a promising student, faced an uncertain future due to family circumstances. It is our hope that kind-hearted individuals will come together to support her in her journey to continue her education. A scholarship of 20 € per month for 12 months has the potential to make a significant impact on her life.
Nguyen Thi Cam Ly with her family
Vo Anh Tuan
Vo Anh Tuan’s journey highlights the pivotal role of scholarships for disadvantaged students. Growing up in challenging circumstances, Tuan’s family struggled to provide basic necessities. Anh Duong Center’s scholarship offers Tuan a chance to alleviate the financial burden of education, allowing him to focus on his studies. This support not only shapes Tuan’s future but also relieves his family’s stress, demonstrating how scholarships create positive ripples.
Tuan and his grandmother
Mekong Plus Scholarship Program: Impact and Collaborations
Mekong Plus’ scholarship program is not just about financial aid; it’s a beacon of hope that transforms lives. By collaborating with partner NGOs like Thien Chi Center, Anh Duong Center and C.A.O., Mekong Plus extends its reach and maximizes its impact. Together, they identify deserving students and provide them with the necessary support to thrive academically, personally, and socially.
Every year, in each commune, at least 1000 people participate in the “solidarity race/walk” covering approximately 1-3km and make a donation to the scholarship fund. In September 2022, there were 196,000 participants and $63,000 in donations collected across approximately 1000 villages. Mekong Plus emphasizes the participation of all villagers, posing the question: “What will you, the villagers, do?” This fund is managed by the schools under the oversight of Mekong Plus.
Little kids running during the Solidarity Run
The impact is significant, with nearly 20% of villagers participating in the event. The 2% poorest children receive a small scholarship.
Education is a powerful tool that has the potential to reshape lives and uplift communities. Mekong Plus, in collaboration with its partner NGOs, is making this potential a reality through its scholarship programmes. From Sok Rina’s resilience to Chau’s dedication, these scholarship beneficiaries are living testaments to the transformative power of education. As a supporter, you have the chance to play a vital role in creating a more equitable and brighter future for these young minds. Your contribution today can sow the seeds of positive change that will blossom for generations to come.
A happy student
As we celebrate the new school year, you too can be a part of this incredible journey of transformation. Through Mekong Plus’ scholarship programmes, your support can empower students, break the cycle of poverty, and create a positive impact in communities. With a small donation, you can be a catalyst for change, giving students the opportunity to dream, learn, and shape a brighter future. Meet the children in urgent need of a scholarship and click the below link to sponsor a child NOW: https://mekongplus.org/en/sponsorship-scholarship/