I held a stall at our Community Garage Sale where all the proceeds go towards the Children of Kon Tum. People donate goods for me to sell & for this last stall I made $150. I would like to thank all the kind folk who have donated goods & those who come along & enjoy a morning out in beautiful Tallangatta.
The children, the carers, the people of Vietnam are so friendly & happy & yet by western standards they lack so much, but I wonder! They work so hard for the little they receive, everything is appreciated that much more.
Maison Chance is a facility in Ho Chi Minh City, set up by a young Swiss woman for disabled people. Nam is 15yrs old & was living at Vinh Son 5, one of the 6 orphanages in Kon Tum. She fell one day & lay in bed for some time apparently. She developed an infection in her back that went into her spine, which consequently has left her unable to walk. She & 14 others live in Maison Chance, where Ross & I visited her. She is the youngest & rooms with a 25 & 30yr old women. She goes to school & has physio most days, so it seems she is being well cared for physically but desperately misses her village family & her friends at the orphanage. She has been in HCMC for over 2yrs. We took her a bag of clothes & some other bits & pieces from Australia which she enjoyed. I felt sad leaving her out on the street in her wheel chair, waving us goodbye in the taxi.
Ross & I spent 10 wonderful days in Kon Tum despite the heat & high humidity. The clouds would gather each afternoon & the thunder would rumble but it would come to nought. Just another hot sticky night shared with mosquitoes the size of eagles, according to Ross. Everyone is preparing their little plot of soil for when the rains come, so they can plant their crops of corn, manioc & all manner of vegetables.
Every year when we arrive, we wonder what changes will have taken place in the orphanages in the last 12 months. There are many organisations helping the orphanages which are fantastic, but one never knows quite who is doing what. Ross & I & our supporters are only a very small drop in the bucket but our thinking is, every drop counts. We can’t embark on big building projects but we can, as we did this time, pay for the repair of a roof that was leaking into the girl’s dormitory at Vinh Son 5, where they care for over 100 children.
We visited VS5 a few times, as one of our son’s friends & now our friend is teaching there approx. 5hrs week unpaid. Liem went to college in Kon Tum to learn to teach English as a second language, but on completing the course he wasn’t able to secure a paid job, partly because he is of ethnic minority heritage & partly because there is high unemployment. At the moment Liem works at the Family Hotel, where we stay. He earns 3 million Vietnam Dong / $150 a month. His English is an advantage there but his heart isn’t in it. He has a wife & child to support, so a job is a job. His boss allowed him to come with us when we wanted an interpreter when we visited the orphanages, as some of the nuns that run the orphanages don’t speak English. We saw him teaching the children at VS5 & to see his face light up & the children just loving him being there, after discussing the thought with David, we decided to commit to giving Siu Liem an amount of money each month for the length of time he is able to teach at VS5. This is the first long term commitment we have made through our fund raising. We feel education, particularly learning English is the pathway out of poverty. By helping one person to help many, the ripple will hopefully continue.
Our focus this year seems to have been on Education, as we have also committed to helping an orphan student, living in Kon Tum with her grandparents, who has been accepted into one of the best Universities in Saigon. I met Nhung & her younger brother & sister the first time I visited Kon Tum in June 2011.Their grandfather, Mr John Ho, teaches English at Vinh Son 1.He & his wife have been caring for the 3 children since their parents died about 10yrs ago. Nhung plans to study engineering, after research showed her that accountancy, which she always talked about doing, was in over supply & jobs would be very hard to come by in the future. I believe being accepted into the uni. is only the first of many hurdles she will encounter in the next few years. Our contribution will be only a very small portion of her needs. We were also able to give Nhung a laptop, which we had been given & David had upgraded before we left, which I hope will be useful.
Ross once again had fun at the market dealing with the pig lady & purchasing 10 little pigs @ $40 each for Vinh Son 3. We followed the pig man, loaded with the 10 pigs on the back of his bike out to VS3, which is about 10kms out of town to make sure they arrived safely. Sr Gabrielle was so pleased with them, she offered us some banana wine, which you only needed a sip it was so strong!! We also bought 15 chooks ready to lay for VS1. Eggs are a great source of protein for the children if they can get some in their diet.
We visited a village school where we had contacts & had been previously. We bought exercise books, pencils, crayons, face cloths & hand towels, soap, some balls & some candy, which was received with much joy & thanks. We also bought some reading books, which had English & Vietnamese translation in them, which we gave to Liem to use at VS5. He helped choose the books & was very excited about showing the children.
Our overall impression on this visit is that the children seem to be generally in good health & well cared for. The living & cooking facilities are gradually being upgraded but there is always so much more to be done. At VS4 we saw a smallish room with a tiled roof you can see the sky through, a wooden slats door that the wind would whistle through, & wooden benches either side of the room that sleeps 24 little girls. They had afew blankets to cover the wooden slats but it all looked pretty primitive. At VS6 the littlies toilets are 3 holes in a row in the earth with a tarp wrapped around afew poles for privacy! The majority of the cooking is still done on open fires, requiring loads & loads of wood to be cut from the forests & bought by the orphanages. Some traditions will continue for a long time to come.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped support us in any way over the last 12 mths to enable us to bring a little help to those in need in Kon Tum. We will continue to fund raise & accept donations of money or goods to sell at garage sales or markets, to uphold our commitment to the children of Kon Tum.
Please contact us if you have any questions about our trip. Till next time.
Thanks You All.
Yes, I’m off to Vietnam once again, to head up into the Central Highlands to the small centre of Kon Tum. There are six Orphanages in the area caring for over 700 children. There have been some fantastic improvements, particularly in the accommodation facilities, in the few years I have been involved but of course there’s always more improvements to be made.
Then there is the health & education of the children, which is an ongoing situation. The Orphanages are run by the Catholic nuns but receive very little money from the church or the Vietnamese government. They are supported by various not-for-profit organisations throughout the world, of which I am one tiny drop in the ocean. I have grown to love the people I stay with, the Sisters in the Orphanages, the children, the carers & teachers. They have so little compared with us but they are always so happy & pleased to meet up again.
I made $200 at the car boot sale which was great. I’d like to also thank everyone who supported the day. We had 14 sites and everyone was very enthusiastic and had an enjoyable morning on such a beautiful day.
Keep an eye out for the next one in a month or two. Thank you everyone.
- Marg Rapsey
Saturday 22nd February saw the Tallangatta Triangles filled with 14 car boots, filled with lots of goodies for those browsing for a bargain or looking for a treasure. I had a site & sold lots of books, odd bits & pieces & treasures from Vietnam & India. The jumping castle was a great hit with the children, while the mums & dads enjoyed the sights. I made $200, all of which will go towards the Children of Kon Tum.
- Marg Rapsey
Our visit to Kon Tum & the Orphanages was once again a humbling experience. The children & their carers are always so happy & positive despite their needs & circumstances. My husband Ross came with me for the first time, which was exciting for me to show him all the places I’d talked about & to meet the people I’d spoken of so often. Tim, Chloe, Amber & Abby Proctor from Baranduda & my cousin Judy from Sydney also came with us. A varied little group with different talents to share.
On arriving in Ho Chi Min City they were blown away by the traffic, particularly the motorbikes & the amazing quantity & diversity of goods that they transported on them. eg. Long loads of piping, wide loads of plastic containers to huge arrangements of flowers plus the usual load of mums & dads with up to 3 children on board. The heat was the other aspect to hit us & although it was very hot & humid we didn’t see much rain at all on our trip. Xuan, one of David’s friends kindly spent some time with us showing us some of the tourist sites of HCMC. She loved Amber & Abby & it was terrific to have a local person who spoke English. We also visited the “Rent House”, where we met up with two girls who are doing their nursing training. The girls grew up in the orphanages in Kon Tum & are now being sponsored by my sister & her husband from Townsville. The sponsors pay for all expenses: housing, food, clothing, education, uniforms, travel, etc. $2500 usually covers the cost. We took over 4 laptops that had been given to us & that David had worked on to make them suitable to use. We gave two to the students in HCMC & the other two to a nursing student in Kon Tum & a year 12 student in a neighbouring village who we hope to sponsor throughout her teaching course. We also paid for internet access. Education is a pathway out of poverty!
Our 1½ hr flight to Pleiku in the Central Highlands of Vietnam was uneventful but the 1hr trip in a mini bus from Pleiku to Kon Tum was rather hair raising. It was early evening, the road was under construction, as usual, with great dips & detours. Bikes, trucks & some cars on the road, with people walking home on the sides of the road. The rules are, the biggest vehicle has the right of way but you wait until the last minute to move aside to the dodgy part of the road. After many gasps by the passengers & laughter from the driver & his mate, we arrived safely at the Family Hotel to be greeted by Mrs Lee & Mr Phong.
The following ten days were filled with all sorts of experiences. Ross & Tim were working on the re-construction of a Bio-Digester at VS1. A Bio-Digester (or BD) is a structure that stores manure which eventually produces methane gas. In this case it is used to fuel the cooking of the pig food, which up until now is fuelled by wood that is expensive to buy as well as being detrimental to the environment.
Ross became quite adept with the calculator while purchasing livestock at the market & pig farms. There may be a language barrier but money speaks a universal language. In total Ross bought 76pigs, 30 chickens & 70 ducklings which were given to 4 of the 6 orphanages.
Judy discovered that the children at VS5 were sleeping on wooden slats covered by a thin grass mat. After consultation with the carers, she bought 40 mattresses & supervised their delivery on the back of 2 motorbikes. Quite a sight!
At VS3 Sr. Gabrielle had just had a bore dug so we were able to pay for a 2000 litre water tank & stand to be erected & for the water to be connected to the kitchen.
Chloe spent a very interesting morning at a medical clinic run by a visiting American nurse & a Vietnamese Doctor. John, the American, had worked in the Kon Tum Hospital with Sr. Gabrielle during the Vietnam War in the 60’s & 70’s. He returns each year to visit & help the people he grew to love.
Amber & Abby were loved by all the Vietnamese as they are very family orientated. Little pale skinned fair-haired children soon turned heads. They played with the younger children in the orphanages & were soon apart of Teresa & Dang’s family of 4 children of similar ages.
Ross & I took over 2 suitcases of soft toys & children’s books, which I buy from op shops over the months. A group of girls from the Tallangatta Secondary College knitted some brightly coloured scarves which we gave out, as it does get cool in the winter in the Central Highlands. We also had been given some little pants & tops, sewn by a local busy sewing lady, which were very gratefully received. Pads, pencils & crayons were also given out to some budding artists, which were gratefully received and appreciated.
We would like to thank all the generous people & groups who have made donations that have enabled us to give to those less fortunate. Many have been made personally but we have also received quite a few donations through our web site (www.friendsofkontum.com) from around the world. All money donated is given to benefit the children of Kon Tum.
Thank you all once again.
Marg & Ross Rapsey
Friends of Kon Tum
Each year Margaret Rapsey returns to visit the 6 orphanages in Kon Tum, in the central Vietnamese highlands. This year she is leaving next month on the 3rd of April to spend 2 weeks in and around the orphanages where she will hand out donated toys, clothes, investigate plans to build a number of bio-digesters in each of the orphanages, check to see how the bread project that Margaret helped setup is functioning and to spend money on other equipment and resources in the areas of education and health that Margaret identifies as a particular need for each of the orphanages.
Margaret will be accompanied by her husband, Ross for the first time, another family with 2 children and another family friend. The group will include a nurse, a farmer and a builder so these skills should come in handy at the orphanages. Within the total population of 700 kids at the orphanages, there are always large numbers of children requiring treatment for various ailments. Buildings and facilities can quickly come into disrepair due to lack of funding and each orphanage has various crops and pigs to provide food for the kids and produce to sell to raise money for the orphanages.
Thank you for all the people who have donated money, toys & clothes to take over to the orphanages. Donations can still be made to Margaret in person or by following this link: http://www.friendsofkontum.com/donate.html
We wish you all the best Margaret, Ross and Co.
- David Rapsey
I recently spoke to the Uniting Church Fellowship Group about my visits to the Vinh Son Orphanages situated in the central highlands of Vietnam. The 6 Orphanages care for over 700 children between the ages of new borns to 18yrs old. The Fellowship Group very kindly have given me a monetary donation which I will be able to put to good use in April, when I will be visiting. Ross, my husband will be coming for the first time, as well as Tim & Chloe Proctor (nee Suggate) & their 2 little girls aged 6 & 8yrs. Chloe attended Tallangatta Secondary College in early 2000’s. Chloe is an experienced nursing sister so will be very interested in the children’s health issues. Ross & Tim will be gathering information about the Bio-Digester project which uses pig manure to produce gas for cooking purposes. They use wood from the forests at the moment, which is very expensive as well as detrimental to the environment. I will be interested to see how my Bread Co-Operative that I initiated 2 years ago is progressing. The girls will have a great time playing & learning another culture.
Pictured is Jean Shubert looking at some goods I have to sell with all the profits going to the 'Friends of Kon Tum'. Look out for the Bullioh Trash & Treasure on Sat. 8th June 8am to 4pm. I’ll be there raising money for the children. See you there.
Mum has raised $776 from a garage sale in Tallangatta, Australia to help the 700 children from six orphanages in Vietnam. The money will go towards providing food, clothing, shelter and education to the children of Kon Tum, in the central highlands of Vietnam.
Thanks mum for helping the children in Vietnam where so much support is needed. Love the picture with my cute niece and nephew. I don’t know you got my niece, Ruby to let go of that teddy bear though! :-)
See full article in 'The Border Mail'.
Teaching English out at Vinh Son 5. All ages class. Kids from age 4 up to age 13. The younger ones really enjoy singing songs, so it is a great way to get them to learn some new words. :-)
12th August 2012
Curtis, a friend of mine from Australia has made the journey over to Vietnam and to Kon Tum to see what the orphanages are all about and to lend a hand as well. Today, we visited Vinh Son 3, 4 & 6 in the one-day. The reason for visiting so many is because Vinh Son 4 & 6 are quite a distance out of town and they are all on the same road out of Kon Tum.
Vinh Son 4 has 170 children, which is quite a big orphanage in comparison to some of the other ones. ‘Friends of Kon Tum’ have recently given some money for the purchase of a new bread mixer here. I will include photos of the mixer in a later posting when I return to Vinh Son4 when the Sister’s bake some bread here, they weren’t baking on the day that I visited.
We also delivered some generously donated soft toys, clothes, beanies and books, mostly sourced around the Tallangatta area to Vinh Son 6 which is one of the smaller orphanages and the most remote of the 6 orphanages that we visit. Because they are further away, they often don’t get as much help as some of the other orphanages, so we thought it best to send some extra supplies here. Thank you everyone for your generous donations.
We also delivered much needed supplies of soap & washing powder to each orphanage, including 20kg of washing powder to VS4 and 10kg each for the other 2 orphanages.
Again, thank you everyone for helping the children of Kon Tum. Helping out with their educational & hygienic needs.