Join us on Facebook!
 
Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation
PO Box 27036
San Francisco, CA
94127-0036
(415) 713-2481
Toll free (888) 877-0736
Fax (888) 812-9085
 
 

 

 

 



 


Our Mission.
The Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation is a U.S. federally approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports the health, education, and career development programs that enhance the quality of life of visually-impaired children residing in Vietnam.
 
Our Story.....................................................
Over fifteen years ago, very little assistance was available to children with severe vision problems in Vietnam. Sister Nhuong, retired, Superior General of the Lovers of the Cross of Christ Sister of Thu Duc, encountered two blind orphans living on the streets outside the Sisters' residence in 1993. Without hesitation, she took them in and her Sisters set to work caring for them and teaching them basic life skills. It was not long before other children with various sight impairments came to live with the Sisters, and Nhat Hong ("Sunshine") School was established. Sisters soon went off to school to learn Braille, and to learn how to educate and care for blind and disabled children. A long-time friend of Fr. Thuan, Sister Nhuong was not shy about requesting for financial assistance from the Vietnamese community in California. The Nhat Hong home was the back end of a divided house, accessible through a narrow serpentine alley. The house required improvements to accommodate the many residents, and not to mention food, clothing, and educational materials for the children. Fr. Thuan's initial fundraising attempts gave birth to the Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation (originally named the Nhat Hong Foundation) in 2000.
Over the past twelve years, the Sisters opened 6 other homes and career development centers for blind and sight-impaired children. They initiated a number of outreach programs to aid families with young blind children at home, particularly in remote areas. Other groups of Sisters and volunteers maintain the homes, schools, and healthcare centers for visually impaired children in other areas of Vietnam. The BVCF has continually provided funding for these programs and facilities.
The Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors and supported by hundreds of friends who give much of their time and wealth throughout the year to assist in BVCF fundraising efforts. Every year the Foundation has a goal of 2 benefit luncheons or dinners with silent and live auctions, and raffles. A lively family atmosphere blends different cultures and faiths in a single effort to help our very special children live promising lives in Vietnam.
In January of 2012, Fr. Thuan, 1 Board member, 2 Board of Advisors members and 8 Friends of the Foundation visited all 7 schools and residences directly supported by the BVCF. In addition, the members also visited 1 additional private blind school that receives support by the foundation and 1 remote residence for elderly blind citizens that is supported in part by BVCF.
BVCF members also travelled hundreds of additional miles to visit remote needy families with blind and multiple disability children directly supported by BVCF. Meeting all of these special young people from all of the BVCF schools, who range in age from 5 to 22 years was an inspirational experience for every guest. The warmth, enthusiasm, and courage of our special friends demonstrate the tremendous success taking place in these Foundation-supported facilities and programs. The final success of each and every child who has gone through the BVCF process and programs is the proof that the goals of the BVCF are real and are met without exception.
It is unknown how many more visually-challenged children are underserved or neglected in Vietnam. Many also suffer from other disabilities besides vision impairments and require special education and care. Just as many possess tremendous talent and potential to live productive and happy lives if only they can receive the proper training and care. The efforts of the Foundation to support, maintain, and develop more programs for blind and sight-impaired children are just getting started.
Ecclesial Projects to Support the Non-Sighted in Vietnam
Sister Anna Le Thi Van Nga...................
Thu Duc Congregation of Lovers of the Holy Cross...................

Vietnam is a country in South East Asia, with about 900,000 non-sighted people among the population of 88 million. Blindness or low vision in Vietnam is most often due to a deficiency of nutritious food, vitamin A deficiency, the inappropriate use of medicines, poor hygiene, limited access to eye-care services, premature birth, bombs and Agent Orange during the war, accidental injuries, among other reasons. The major causes are cataracts (70%), glaucoma, corneal infections, trachoma, childhood blindness (Retinopathy of Prematurity and corneal scarring), refractive error, retinopathy degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Some causes are preventable and treatable. Several Catholic eye doctors and charity groups have participated in blindness prevention projects. These projects include raising social awareness, eye screening, assisting poor people in rural areas to access eye-care services, cataract surgery, provision of vitamin A and medicines, and clean water supplies for villages. Some dioceses or parishes in the Church have their own projects or participate in the projects carried out by government or non-government organizations.
From the economic, cultural and religious impacts, non-sighted people in Vietnam have some advantages and disadvantages. They receive positive support from their families and communities, as people are living in large multi-generation families, providing care and supporting to each other. People in the community know each other and care for each other. Even the poor share what they have to the poorer, as in Vietnamese proverb: the un-broken leaf covers the broken leaf. They also get caring and support from the Church, because most of Christians love the poor and share resources to the ones in need, regardless their religion. Many non-sighted Christians happily accept their blindness as a gift from God and an opportunity to follow the Cross of Jesus, because Vietnamese Christians have a strong belief, rooted in the blood and examples of 117 martyrs in Vietnam. They put their belief into practice by trusting in Gods providence, putting their lives into the loving care of Our Lady and Saint Joseph. In the parishes, the non-sighted and sighted people know each other and go to Church together.
However, non-sighted people are confronted with many challenges: lack of food, medicine, education, care, integration into society, even lack of integration into Church. Most of non-sighted people come from poor families, and they are unable to work to earn enough money for their living, so many of them do not have enough food to eat, medicine or necessities. To address this need, the Church has some projects to provide food, medicine and necessities for them, with donations from parishioners and other benefactors. One project One Family Supports One Blind Person provides rice monthly to the non-sighted. In addition, there are career training programs to teach them working skills to be able to work by themselves or work with their family members. These include traditional medicine (acupressure, cupping, herbal medicine, and physiotherapy), hand-crafts (rosaries, artificial flowers, key chains, bracelets, necklaces, handbags, mats, paper products, etc.), office work (computer, photocopying, book binding, archives, telephone operation&), teaching (training, teaching, instructing), translation, counseling, music (singing, composing, playing traditional and modern instruments), agriculture (planting, domestic animal raising&), and making domestic products (dish washing detergent, bottled drinking water&).
Among 6,000 non-sighted children under the age of 15, only about 450 children are attending schools, a percentage of only 7.5. The percentage is even lower, only about 5%, for those between the ages of 15 to 18. Although the Church has ten projects to provide educational services to non sighted children and young people, many of them still stay at home and have no education. The educational services include special education (specific skills for non-sighted people), inclusive education (supporting non-sighted students in ordinary schools), and higher education (support non-sighted students in colleges and universities). Out of these services, the projects also train teachers and caregivers to improve the quantity and quality of educational services. One project functions as a resource center to produce and provide educational materials for non-sighted students and their teachers.
Very young non-sighted children and non-sighted people who have additional impairments need special care and rehabilitation. Only less than 1% of them receive services. The Ecclesial projects have early intervention programs to work with young children and their care givers at home or in the orphanages, and rehabilitation programs to serve children with multiple impairments. However, the programs need to be extended to children who live in rural areas.
In Vietnam, especially in the countryside, there are still negative attitudes about non-sighted people. Some people think that people with disabilities means useless people; they are burdens on their families and on society. Some think that they suffer blindness because of the sins of their parents or their ancestors. Due to these attitudes, many families feel guilty and hide their child inside the house, refusing to send him or her to school. Non-sighted people themselves often feel a complex about their blindness and have a general lack of confidence. The Ecclesial projects have programs to raise social awareness and belief, provide counseling service for non-sighted people and also for their family members, proclaim the Word of the Lord to make people understand that blindness is not a penalty from God and help them to feel the love of God. The projects also provide training courses on independent living and social skills to assist them to be integrated into society.
The local Churches have identified and assisted non-sighted people, but only few of these people participate actively in Church activities. Day by day, the Church has paid more and more attention to these people. There were more projects to produce Bible and religious materials in Braille and audio for the blind, assist non-sighted people to participate in catechism classes and pray groups, to sing, play musical instruments, do reading in Mass, etc. Non-sighted people live more happily when they put their lives in Gods loving care through the love of others. However, many non-sighted people wish that the Church did not only look upon them with pity and give them financial supports, but also treat them as brothers and sisters who are parts of the body of Christ, because they did not only want to be receivers but also want to be disciples and givers. In fact, they bring more benefit to others in the Church; they gave examples of sincere love, belief and hope. They cannot see with their physical eyes, but they can see many things with their hearts, in the light of God.
I myself have learnt a lot from their prayers and sharing. For example, a blind girl prayed: God, this morning I heard the siren of an ambulance. I did not know who was inside and what was happened, but I put this person in your hands. May you use the hands of doctors and nurses to care for this person! Thank you! In my life, I heard and saw the ambulance many times, but only after listening to this girls prayer, I started to pray for the ones in the ambulance and for other people around me in the street. Also from the sharing of a blind lady, whenever I saw my face in the mirror, I looked into my heart to see if I could still recognize the image of God in myself and in others. Non-sighted people also share what they have to other poor people. They use their potential to serve others doing work such as healing the sick, teaching children with disabilities and so on. Living with them and serving them, I can see the meaning of my religious life: to be happy in unity with God and with others, and to be Jesus hands to serve others.
At present, the Vietnamese Church has 15 projects to support about 5,000 non-sighted people, a very small amount out of the 900,000 non-sighted people in Vietnam. Moreover, most projects are in the South. There is only one in the North and one in the central region of the country. The projects receive financial supports from individual donors, Catholic groups, enterprises, NGOs and INGOs such as Christian Blind Mission, Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation, United Bible Society, etc. They also receive technical support from Perkins School for the Blind, Overbrook-Nippon Network on Educational Technology, and professional volunteers. The dioceses have a very limited budget and are unable to give great financial supports to the projects, but offer spiritual support and call people to give donations to the projects. They help link the projects with other agencies to bring benefits to non-sighted people.
In the future, the Vietnamese Church hopes to extend its services to more non-sighted people, especially in provinces where there are no ecclesial services at this time. It strives to assist these people to participate more actively in the Church and to be integrated into society. However, we lack funds for setting up new projects in provinces (especially in the Northern and central regions of Vietnam), for making Bibles and religious materials in Braille, large print and audio, for training more teachers and caregivers, and for raising awareness about non-sighted people to clergy, religious, and lay people in the Church, as well as to people in society. To realize this dream, we would like to ask you to join us in our services by your prayers and your spiritual and financial support, so that together, we will become the hands of Jesus to bring love, hope and joy to our non-sighted sisters and brothers in Vietnam.
 
 

© Copyright Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation, All Rights Reserved. Updated May 21, 2012.