Hue Children’s Shelter
Hue Children’s Shelter (formally known as the ‘Home of Affection orphanage’) is currently home to thirty seven children, who have either no parents, or parents that are too poor or sick to care for them.
In 2007, the shelter faced financial difficulty and the possibility of closure. After discussions with local government, shelter staff and children, there was a strong consensus amongst all involved that the shelter should stay open. From January 2008 onwards, we have been the main sponsor for this home in co-operation with the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Thua Thien Hue (DOLISA).We not only agreed to keep the shelter open, but we also made a commitment to improve the quality of health, education and well-being of all the children there in order to create an enviroment suitable for the growth and development of children.
Key changes we started at the home
Some of the key changes we have made since we began sponsoring the shelter include:
- Increasing the quantity and quality of food;
- Assisting nearly all of the children to enter mainstream education;
- Providing additional tutors and extra educational classes;
- Organising extra curricular activities, such as art and music classes;
- Providing the majority of core funding to the orphanage, along with financial accountability procedures;
- Providing international English teachers and social work students to the orphanage;
- And organising a range of summer activites, including participation in our Swimming for Safety programme.
What has this meant for the orphanage?
- Issues of malnutrition have been combated;
- Many of the students are now acheiving the expected academic results for their age groups, and some are even within the top quarter of their classes;
- The home is now a stable and safe place for children to grow up in;
- And furnishings and resources for a new library in our brand new building.
DOLISA have constructed a new building for the children at the shelter. We fully support this project, as this new purpose-built facility is set to provide a much more spacious home packed with both educational and recreational resources. The children were moved to the new building in the summer of 2010. Our main priorities at the moment are:
- Co-ordinating a Vietnamese life skills training institution to work with shelter staff and children to assess and carry out relevant training in the fields of life skills and child development, and
- Developing a programme for children aged 15+ to prepare them for life outside of the shelter.
Hue Children’s Shelter: The Story
In 2006, Hue Help first became involved in Hue Children’s Shelter. At that time, we referred to it as the ‘Home of Affection Orphanage’, a name given to the shelter by former volunteers who worked there. The shelter was located on Le Loi Street, in the centre of Hue city and was home to around twenty five children. The children either had no family, or had family who were unable to take care of them. This could have been due to them being in prison, sick or disabled or simply too poor.
The first thing we did there was to employ a security guard to ensure that the children were kept safe at night. At the end of 2007, however, we were informed that the shelter faced potential closure. It belonged to a government department that was closing down, but received a lot of its funding from numerous organisations. The closure would have meant that the children had to move into other, already overcrowded, orphanages and shelters in the city. Alternatively, those that still had family may have had to return home to environments unable to support them.
Neither of these options were desirable. The majority of the children spent a substantial part of their life together, and despite the issues that the shelter faced, everyone involved wanted it to stay open. With agreement from local authorities, staff and children, Hue Help became the main sponsor of the shelter in January 2008. We made a commitment not just to keep the shelter together and open as before, but to work with our local partners to dramatically improve the health, education and general quality of life to create a stable environment suitable for child development.
Working with Thua Thien Hue Department for Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA), we have ensured that the children now receive a high quality education – through mainstream state education, but also through a variety of extra-curricular activities. We have increased the quantity and quality of food to combat issues of malnutrition, and provided additional clothing and equipment. A lot of the issues relating to the basic standard of living have now been resolved.
After leaving Le Loi, the children moved to a temporary location on Yiet Kieu Street. While they were there, DOLISA was busy constructing a new, purpose built home to provide a permanent home for these children. Construction began in 2009, and in the summer of 2010 all of the children moved there. In addition, this shelter has now merged with the other state shelter for disadvantaged children, giving us a current capacity of up to forty children.
The shelter today is a completely different place to the one we first began to support in 2008, with the quality of life increasing substantially. We are very pleased with the progress that has been made and the ongoing developments. Finally, the children have a stable home, are fit and healthy and are getting a good education, laying the foundation for an independent future.
So, what next for Hue Children’s Shelter?
A lot has changed since we first started work with Hue Children’s Shelter. The quality of life has improved significantly, and a lot of our early objectives have now been realised. So what about the future?
In 2011, we continued to support some of the core costs for the children who we have been supporting since the start. For the new children, the core costs were matched and supported entirely by the local authorities (DOLISA). We are currently just funding core costs for children who still have some family, and in the future Hue Children’s Shelter does not have any plans to take on more of these children. Rather, it will only support children who do not have family at all. Eventually, Hue Help’s core support will be withdrawn from the shelter.
However, there is still a lot of work for us to do there. We are moving away from core funding into more extra-curricular activities and capacity building. Currently, we are developing our programme of extra-curricular activities to provide a whole variety of classes, games and sports for the children. In addition, we are working with local institutions in Vietnam to facilitate life skills training and capacity building classes for both the children and shelter staff. And finally, we are working to create a programme to prepare older children to succeed after leaving the shelter by working with them to help make a plan for their future and offering support both before and after leaving the shelter.
This shelter continues to be the official approach by the local authorities to support disadvantaged children. We will continue to work with our local partners to improve the opportunities available to children who grow up here, moving away from core costs to projects that are designed to help young people on their path towards independence. Watch this space for updates on these exciting new programmes as they develop!
We have now finalised a budget for our continued support for Hue Children’s Shelter for the calendar year 2012. Feel free to download and view the link below.