The Kianh Foundation in Vietnam benefitted from grant funding for the salary of the Lead Teacher of the Big Bears class at Dien Ban Day Centre. The centre provides education to children with disabilities and special educational needs. We are delighted to hear how well Ms Thuy, the Lead Teacher, has been inspiring her students.
A new term follows lockdown
After another Vietnam lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic, the Kianh Foundation’s Dien Ban Day Centre was able to open again in October 2021. The new term began one month later than planned. Covid-19 really hit Vietnam hard in 2021 and numbers are still high now in 2022. Despite this, the Dien Ban Day Centre has taken a lot of covid precautions and, as a result, has been very fortunate that only two of the staff and only three of the students have caught the virus so far. All staff are fully vaccinated and all students over the age of 12 had their first vaccine at the end of December 2021.
Whilst Covid continues to play havoc with study and fundraising (several fundraisers had to be canceled due to ongoing lockdowns), the centre has somehow managed to maintain all of its programs and increase the number of young people and their families that they support. As of the end of February 2022, Dien Ban is now providing education, therapy and training for 90 children with disability and/or special needs.
The area of Vietnam in which the Kianh Foundation works has been a busy tourist destination for many years. The families of many of the Dien Ban Day Centre’s students earn their living in the tourist industry. This industry has been decimated by the pandemic and the families now need the centre’s help more than ever.
Ms Thuy’s class are thriving
Ms Thuy has continued in her role as the lead teacher for the Big Bears’ Class – a class for older children with cognitive disabilities – during this period. She has also been working with and training the families of 5 children with disability in the centre’s community programme. All of the 18 students in her class have made excellent progress since October, particularly in the areas of literacy and communication. Thuy has really pushed her students in their reading, resulting in most of them having a good basic degree of literacy, including some of those students who have really struggled in this area.
A key educational theme of this period has been to teach the students about the different places of work and study they may visit outside of the centre and seek the services of. Through many mediums – but the most enjoyed and effective one being role play – they now all understand the different circumstances in which they would need to go to the hospital, to see a hairdresser or barber, or to go to the market. They also know how they should express themselves in these situations.
One of the main objectives of the Big Bears’ Class is to support the students to be as functional in their everyday lives as possible. Being able to shop for (or in Vietnam, grow), prepare and cook meals is obviously a big part of that. Thuy has done excellent work teaching the children about where their food comes from and showing them how to grow vegetables and herbs and prepare them for meals. The organic garden at the centre is an invaluable resource for this and is the students’ biggest and best classroom.
Children flourishing in difficult times
These are difficult times for everybody. The fact that the young people that Thuy works with have not only maintained the progress they have made over several years at the center, but have continued to flourish and develop is a great testament to Thuy’s commitment and teaching ability. The role-play situations were particularly successful, Many of our students have a fear of going to the barber or seeing a doctor, so these sessions normalised these activities for them. It’s become easier for the children’s parents to take them to these places.
Here are three children in the Big Bear’s class who have been making incredible progress.
Nin is 12 years old and has Developmental Delay. She is a charming, sociable and friendly child who has been in our programme for nearly 5 years. Her verbal communication has really improved over this time and she amuses everyone at the centre with her humorous anecdotes. She participates with great enthusiasm in all of her lessons and really loved role playing a doctor, declaring that she may do this as a job once she graduates!
Phuong is 17 years old and has Down Syndrome. She is very high functioning and independent and has good basic numeracy and literacy. Her verbal communication is excellent. She is able to help her family with chores at home, to assist the staff at the centre and to guide the other students. Phuong is a naturally gifted dancer and amazes everyone who sees her perform. She often leads the group dance sessions at the center and teaches new routines to the other students. Phuong comes from a very poor family and lives with her single mother and grandfather.
Phuc is 18 years old and has Down Syndrome. His family were hit by tragedy when his mother recently died of cancer. Yet, despite his sadness, Phuc has not let this set him back in his development and he continues to make excellent progress at the centre. He is very capable and can do a whole host of practical things. He is a very nurturing young man and often takes on the role of ‘big brother’ for younger students in his class who are not as capable as he.