|Hà Tĩnh Women’s Union representatives visit orphaned children in need in Hương Khê, Hà Tĩnh. — VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Quyết
HÀ TĨNH — For over two years, the “Mẹ Đỡ Đầu” (Godmother’s Assistance) programme, implemented by the Hà Tĩnh Women’s Union, has been a source of encouragement in the lives of hundreds of children facing particularly difficult circumstances. With support from local authorities, and philanthropists, the programme has expanded, making a positive impact within the community.
According to statistics of the Hương Khê District Women’s Union, nearly 360 orphaned children are facing difficult circumstances in the area. One such case is 10-year-old Nguyễn Công Phát from Phố Hòa hamlet, Gia Phố Commune.
Phát’s father, unfortunately, passed away in a traffic accident when he was only two years old, and his mother works as a labourer in the South. He is being raised and cared for by his grandmother, Trần Thị Giang, who faces significant hardships.
Giang not only has to raise her grandchild Phát but also has to care for her elderly mother. Since 2022, with the connection facilitated by the Women’s Union of Hương Khê District, Phát has received support from various agencies and organisations. He has received assistance for four years with an annual amount of VNĐ6 million (US$245), easing some of the burdens for his grandmother. She hopes for more support so that Phát can continue his education.
12-year-old Phạm Như Quỳnh of Sơn Lâm Commune, Hương Sơn District, is another child facing challenging circumstances in the region. Unfortunately orphaned at a young age, Quỳnh, along with her two siblings, lives with their mother in a small house. The family’s life is challenging due to the meagre income the mother earns from unstable manual labour.
Quỳnh revealed that to support her two siblings to attend school without dropping out, her mother has to undertake various jobs to make ends meet. Since the beginning of 2022, Quỳnh has been fortunate to receive support, amounting to VNĐ3.6 million ($147) annually. This assistance has enabled her to purchase books, stationery, and educational supplies, alleviating some of the family’s difficulties.
The circumstance of 14-year-old Nguyễn Khánh Huyền from Sơn Phú, Hương Sơn is equally challenging. Without a home, Huyền and her mother have to live with her grandmother. Huyền’s mother unfortunately suffers from a serious illness, requiring frequent hospital visits. Meanwhile, the grandmother, over 70 years old, is the primary breadwinner in the family, and also cares for another child affected by Agent Orange.
Trần Thị Phương, Huyền’s grandmother, shared that despite her age, she has to work hard to take care of her children and grandchildren. Huyền now receives support from the Farmers’ Union of Hà Tĩnh Province until the age of 18, with an annual amount of VNĐ12 million ($490), which makes her grandmother feel relieved now that the family’s burden has been reduced.
|A Hương Khê Women’s Union member tutors 10-year-old Nguyễn Công Phát. According to statistics of the Hương Khê District Women’s Union, nearly 360 orphaned children are facing difficult circumstances in the area. — VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Quyết
Hương Khê District, a mountainous region facing persistent poverty, grapples with a notable population of orphaned children in challenging circumstances. Acknowledging this, Women’s Unions at various levels have initiated efforts to seek support from organisations and individuals to aid these children. Hương Khê currently has the highest number of supported orphaned children in Hà Tĩnh Province.
Under the leadership of Trần Thị Hồng Thắm, Chairwoman of the Women’s Union of Hương Khê District, the “Mẹ Đỡ Đầu” programme has mobilised the entire political system. As of now, 192 children in Hương Khê have received support, with a committed amount of VNĐ3.1 billion ($127,000) over three to five years. Key contributors include the Trade Union of the District Party Committee, local mass organisations, and the People’s Committee of the district. The district seeks ongoing attention and support from organisations, individuals, and philanthropists to ensure the children’s confident navigation through life.
The positive impact of the “Mẹ Đỡ Đầu” programme extends beyond Hương Khê, gaining traction in society. Various levels of party committees and local governments actively participate and support the programme. For instance, in Hương Sơn District, 14 out of nearly 60 supported children have “parents” supporting them who are district officials. In Nghi Xuân District, 71 out of 98 orphaned children receive support from officials in different agencies and schools.
Bùi Nhân Sâm, Secretary of the District Party Committee of Hương Sơn, affirms the programme’s humanitarian significance. The Standing Committee of the District Party Committee guides the Women’s Union of the district in collaborating with various sectors to review cases of extremely disadvantaged orphaned children for support. Through the programme, the district has garnered funds from philanthropists to aid 59 children. Plans include continued reviews and annual calls for support from philanthropists to expand the programme’s outreach and effectiveness.
To date, Women’s Unions at all levels in Hà Tĩnh Province have received and mobilised support for 731 orphaned children, committing nearly VNĐ13.2 billion ($539,000). This encompasses 20 children receiving support until adulthood and 711 children receiving support for three to five years.
Nguyễn Thị Lệ Hà, Chairwoman of the Women’s Union of Hà Tĩnh Province, emphasises that despite challenges, the “Mẹ Đỡ Đầu” programme, with the dedication of Women’s Union officials, has gained societal attention. Future efforts will focus on promoting the program’s practical significance, engaging party committees, local governments, and organizations at all levels to strengthen connections and mobilize social resources for the care and nurturing of orphaned children. — VNS
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