Jetstar's World Vision
Global touch helps local lives
WORDS NARRELLE HARRIS
PHOTOGRAPHY JERRY GALEA
Kieli with the family cow, purchased through a small loan from World Vision
Misty forests, gorgeous beaches, stunning mountains and the lush Mekong Delta – no wonder Vietnam is such a tempting holiday destination. Alongside the breathtaking scenery, most travellers to Vietnam will tell you that it’s the local people who made their journey so memorable.
Something special happens when we are touched by the stories of strangers from a different land, and there are millions of these stories in Vietnam. They can be found from the teeming cities to the highland towns and small rural villages where tourists don’t often venture.
These places are home to adults and children whose lives are varied, colourful, and sometimes very difficult. Their tales can teach us about their culture, and our own, with lessons to inspire and enrich our own lives.
Here’s the story of Kieli and his family.
Kieli’s mother Loi protects herself
from the elements while working in
the fieldMeet Kieli, a 12-year-old boy who lives with his family in a small village in central Vietnam. He does the usual things, like the household chores. He goes to school and maths is his favourite subject.
Kieli is also soccer-mad, and a talented player. He’s the striker when his village competes against local teams, and he wants to do a sports course at university.
Kieli’s ambitions are not so different to other boys his age. What is different is the fact that Kieli has the chance to fulfil them, something which was not possible for members of his villlage in the past.
Loi, Kieli’s mother, is proud that Kieli and her other three children can now go to school. There was a time when the family could not afford the fees as they weren’t able to make enough money from their farm. A recent addition to their household has helped make the difference – a cow.
Nhaung and Duyen enjoy their
biology and health classesWhile Loi and her husband Trong already grew crops and raised some livestock, the purchase of the cow has helped bring in extra income through sales of her calves. The couple were able to buy the cow thanks to a small loan they got through World Vision.
The family has also increased the amount of food crops they can grow thanks to the communal buffalo. The animal is shared by seven families, and at ploughing time it enables them to plough more land, more quickly, to produce more crops.
At harvest time, there’s more to sell at the market, providing money for basic necessities like school fees and medical care for the whole family.
Working together for change
World Vision has been working in partnership with this community, and others like it in Vietnam, for many years. By focusing on building skills, improving facilities and enabling access to small loans, the vicious cycle of dependence on outside help can be broken. A new future is forged as people are empowered to help themselves.
The world has opened up for many in Kieli’s village. Besides helping farming families to get the most out of their land, World Vision’s work with the village has meant that the community now has a health clinic and wells and pipes have been built. Access to clean water has made a huge difference to people’s health.
Kieli has opportunities his
grandmother never had,
thanks to his family’s
determination and a little
help fromThirteen-year-old best friends, Nhaung and Duyen, go to the same school as Kieli. Here, all students receive a quality education as well as regular medical check-ups. The school has desks and other school supplies for all the students. Local teachers have also developed their professional skills through training programs.
Despite the difficulties that Kieli and his family have faced in the past, their situation is certainly different to what it was for Kieli’s grandparents. Much of this change has been brought about thanks to the work that Kieli’s family and World Vision are undertaking together. Kieli and his family already have the ambition, enthusiasm and determination necessary to make a new life. All they needed was a little help to write these new chapters in their life stories.
World Vision’s work in South-East Asia and worldwide includes working with governments and communities to:
• improve leadership and decision-making skills.
• increase access to clean water for drinking, cooking and washing.
• improve sanitation and encourage hygiene awareness.
• increase education opportunities for children.
• improve access to medicine, vaccination and health education.
• create access to seeds, tools and training in sustainable farming techniques, to help families grow enough food for themselves and for sale.
• run workshops to encourage micro-businesses such as bakery stalls or sewing services, so families can earn a cash income.
Five interesting facts about Vietnam
• Vietnam’s national dish, phó, is a broth soup with rice noodles, basil and beansprouts, plus whatever else the chef feels like throwing in.
• Soccer is the most popular sport in Vietnam, and the national team played in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup.
• Vietnamese conical hats (non la) are made of tightly woven straw. The design protects the wearer from both heavy rains and the blazing sun.
• The Tet festival celebrates the Lunar New Year. Homes are decorated with peach blossom to bring good luck and welcome spring.
• Many Vietnamese buildings are constructed according to feng shui principles of harmony and placement.
Launched in June, StarKids, a Jetstar and World Vision initiative, aims to raise at least AU$3 million over three years for World Vision to fund programs assisting children in Australia and countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. It will raise awareness of the causes and effects of poverty, and how we can all make a difference.