HOW is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in the USA, whose staff consists of all volunteers. Its mission is to provide hope and care to neglected, abandoned, and orphaned children in deprived areas of the world with a specific focus on VietNam.
My family are from Vietnam and fled to the UK during the Vietnam war. In June this year I went back to Vietnam for the first time. It was a bitter sweet experience... it was so amazing to experience the beautiful culture and people of Vietnam, but it was also incredibly saddening to witness the poverty, the hardships and the suffering that many Vietnamese people endure on a daily basis. The stark contrast between my western life and the life I could have had, if my family had remained in Vietnam couldn’t have been any more different…
… I could have been the orphaned child on the streets, with no home to go to and no one to care for me
… I could have been the sick child, too poor to pay for medicine or see a doctor
… I could have been the exhausted lady working tirelessly from the crack of dawn to late at night, in the excruciating sun – just trying to earn enough money to feed my family.
… It could have been me.
I am so fortunate and blessed to live in the UK where food is plenty, healthcare is readily available and education is abundant. For many in Vietnam, having access to such things that we can often take for granted would be like a dream... I wanted to help make this dream become a reality in Vietnam.
Upon my return home to the UK, I began looking into different charities that support children and families in Vietnam. One of the charities that really stood out for me was HOW (Helping Orphans Worldwide). Speaking to Hilary Brown - one of the co founders of HOW, I was touched to find someone who was so passionate about making a difference. The work HOW are doing, means that the orphaned child on the street now has a place they can call home. Because of HOW, many ill children can now access much needed healthcare through the EB and Starfish project which provides medication and life saving surgery for children with severe disabilities and illnesses.
The work HOW do is invaluable and is making such a big difference to so many lives. I wanted to do as much as I could to help raise money so that children and families in Vietnam can continue to access the healthcare, education and shelter that they so desperately need. I now regularly donate to HOW and other charities in Vietnam to help them sustain the life changing work they are doing. To try and raise more money, kind friends and family have agreed to put donation buckets at shops where they work and ask for donations for the children instead of tips! We are also hoping to do fundraising events in future too to try and raise more money.
But I wanted to do more than just help financially, so I asked HOWS co founder Hilary what else I could do to help make a difference. Hilary explained that the children love getting cards from around the world and as Tet (Chinese new year) is fast approaching in a few months time, it would be a great idea to try and make Tet cards for all the children. At this special time, many children will be without parents and loved ones… having something special to call their own on Tet may seem like a small thing… but it can mean a lot for the children to know that someone is thinking of them and wishing them a prosperous and happy new year! HOW works with over 300 children, so making a couple of hundred handmade cards was going to be a big project! People all around the world are helping HOW and so together we can do it! Friends and family have been helping… some of my friends are teachers, and they have kindly offered to get their classes involved in making Tet cards for children too. Making the cards has given me a wonderful opportunity to raise more awareness about the work HOW are doing in Vietnam, not only are friends and family supporting the cause, but schools are becoming more aware of the struggles in Vietnam and helping in their own special ways too. Hopefully the more people we can get involved… the more we can help Vietnam!
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