The Little Girl with a Big Dream
When Tuyen, of Hanoi, Vietnam, was just a little girl, living a happy carefree existence, a sudden, fatal illness came upon her father, altering life as she knew it. Life without her father was dramatically different. Her mother was lonely and struggled. Soon the stress of raising children alone was more than Tuyen’s mother could bear. She was so depressed that the government placed Tuyen in an orphanage.
Not long after settling into her a new routine and life without both parents, the orphanage was closed by the government. All of the children living there were traumatized once again when they were divided and sent to different orphanages. Tuyen was one of the fortunate children, because she moved to the Birla Orphanage, one that Pearl S. Buck International has supported for more than 25 years. The orphanage is unlike many others in Vietnam, thanks to the support of donors and Child Sponsors. The children live in brightly colored houses grouped with 26 children and a housemother.
While it is difficult to comprehend what it’s like for any child to face so many setbacks, Tuyen’s life was starting to change for the better. By entering the orphanage system, she made many new friends and found one very important supporter: Tuyen was matched to a Child Sponsor through Pearl S. Buck International.
Having a Sponsor meant support, encouragement and consistency. The financial assistence from her Sponsor increased the minimal funding provided by the government for meals. For the first time in her life, Tuyen enjoyed a rich diet of protein, vegetables, fruits and grains. She also received new school supplies and started to participate in extra-curricular activities outside of school through the support of her Child Sponsor. Above all, Tuyen looked forward to letters from her Sponsor who helped her believe she could achieve whatever she set out to do.
Tuyen was also inspired by Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hanh, who once resided at the same orphanage and went on to become Vietnam Country Director for Pearl S. Buck International. She loved it when she visited the orphanage and started dreaming of being like her, growing up to help other children in orphanages. She knew that to do this she would have to attend college, so she dedicated herself to her studies. She worked very hard and passed the entrance exam into Cau Giay High School, a “national standard school” certified for delivering an excellent quality of education. Tuyen had made the first big step!
After she graduated from high school, there was another big hurdle she had to overcome. To pass the college entrance exams, Tuyen would need English and Math education which the high school didn’t offer. So, for three years, Tuyen’s sponsor sent additional funds beyond the regular monthly sponsorship donation to pay for tutoring.
It paid off. In August 2016, Tuyen was accepted to the University of Labor and Social Affairs. Her future is brighter than ever, thanks to the support of her Child Sponsor. Tuyen, the little girl with a big dream, has set her sights on making a difference to other children living in orphanages, and thanks to the support of her Sponsor she will be able to do just that.