Margaret and David - Supporting the Children of Kontum
History of Kon Tum and the Vinh Son Orphanages
In the Central Highlands of Vietnam, in the province called Kon Tum, there are a group of 6 Orphanages that support up to 700 children in total. These orphanages are called Vinh Son 1, Vinh Son 2, up to Vinh Son 6. All the children are ethnic minority people, generically known as Montagnards. There are over 50 tribes of Montagnards across Vietnam. In Kon Tum the better known tribes are Bahnar, Jarai, Sedang and Rungau.
When the Vietnam war ended in 1975, the chaos created by the fall of the Saigon government resulted in a substantial refugee problem as people returned to their former homelands. Those who remained have continued to struggle to survive for a variety of reasons. The Montagnards, who had a history of taking care of their own, were forced to seek help from the Sisters of the Miraculous Medal who started to take the children in. This created the need for the care of many children. The Sisters provide this to all children regardless of their religion.
Margaret Rapsey met a Vietnam Veteran named Derek Smith through a family friend in 2010. Derek has been raising funds and volunteering in the Orphanages once or twice a year since 2007 and contributed to many projects including building kitchen facilities (at VS6) and building new toilet & kitchen facilities (at VS5) this year.
Margaret Rapsey visited the Orphanages in June 2011 and some of her projects included setting up a Bread making Co-Operative between the Orphanages to make a portion for the children to eat and an amount of bread to sell to keep the project self-sustainable. With her nursing background she also contributed to the health needs of the children through taking an amount of medical supplies from Australia, buying additional supplies onsite and taking some children to have further medical treatment with a doctor.