Dear SCC Supporters and Friends,
It has been a while since we sent out a newsletter and I apologise for that. We found that our emailing software and contact database was not actually reaching a lot of our donors, friends and supporters, and so we have spent some time to put a new system in place that we hope will improve that situation. We should now be able to communicate more regularly and effectively, and any feedback you have on this newsletter or suggestions about what sort of information you would like to see would really be appreciated.
We have much to tell you about so this is rather longer from me than usual, but all of great value: from events like the Cyclo Challenge and the Saigon Summer Ball, to intrepid cycling adventures, to farewells and welcomes from staff, and of course lots about the children and youngsters who you help us to help, by giving them the chance to get an education, and a better start in their lives.
Firstly for those who may not still not yet be aware, on 1 Jan 15 Saigon Children’s Charity transitioned to become Saigon Children’s Charity CIO. A Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) is a new structure under UK Charity Law. We still call ourselves SCC on a daily basis, but we have new charity registration numbers in both the UK and Vietnam, which might need to be reflected in tax return entries and our bank account names have also changed, although most numbers remain the same. For more details of this transition please follow this link.
In March we held the 15th Cyclo Challenge at a new venue this year, Celadon City, near the airport. On a clear sunny day, under a canopy of green shady trees, well over 1000 people made the Sunday morning trip to watch the racing. We successfully reincorporated team games as part of the racing this year and 12 teams fought it out to be the Champion, with Pizza Hut just pipping Crown to the post this year, Caravelle Saigon winning the Cyclo Décor competition and Hoang Long-Hoan Vu the cheerleading. Thank you to all our Sponsors, the supporters and volunteers without whom we could not run the event, and congratulations to all who took part and made it such a fun morning. We are already looking ahead to Cyclo 2016 which will be in March again next year, and working to make it even bigger and better.
Our 7th annual Saigon Summer Ball in June was also a tremendous success, with over 300 guests not only enjoying a wonderful evening at the InterContinental Asiana Saigon, but raising over US$150k. A huge thank you must go to Christine Rosemann, the wonderful Chair of our Ball Committee, to Frasers Law Company our Premier Partner and Etihad Airways our Key Partner, to all our other very generous sponsors and donors, and to the performers and volunteers who gave their time to help. A special mention also goes to our new Head of Fundraising Ms Thuong and her team who, as with the Cyclo Challenge, put in so much hard work behind the scenes to make it happen.
SCC has also been the fortunate beneficiary of two great cycling achievements. Firstly in November 2014 another highly successful three-day Charity Cycle Adventure (CCA), riding over the famed Hai Van pass, ultimately raised over US$40k for SCC, a tremendous effort. Thank you to all the riders but particularly Tom Duncan who led this year’s intrepid band. CCA15 is being launched as we speak, planned for 28-30 November, and this year will take a different route to include Dalat and Nha Trang. I was so inspired by the team last year that I have committed to taking part this year, so watch this space and please support me with sponsorship to make the pain of getting fit worthwhile!
In April a different group of brave cyclists undertook the annual H2H ride (Hanoi to HCMC). This extraordinary effort, which takes a month, raised almost US$50k for five different charities. This is a remarkable annual achievement worthy of great support, and again is in early planning for next year. Thank you to Chris Rolls for his leadership and to DHL for their very valuable support of this ride.
We are as always extraordinarily grateful to all our donors, large and small, without whom we could do no work at all. Your support and your generosity is what makes SCC possible. On behalf of the team here, and the children and youngsters you support, thank you once again to you all.
A new academic year brings new starts and new dreams. It is of course now when our children and students go back to school, college or university, and when we are contacting you in the hope that you will renew your Scholarship support. With your help we are aiming to support 2600 children this year, and the team have been doing a lot of internal work to make doubly sure that our scholarship programme is reaching the children who need it most, in the right way, and provides the children with the support they need. We are very confident that it delivers wonderful outcomes.
I was particularly struck by the story of Nhung, one of our scholarship students. Nhung is from a very poor family, and when younger she also sadly lost a leg to cancer. Despite bullying at school, far from giving up, she found inspiration in comics and art, discovered she had real talent, and dreams of becoming a designer. She came to the SCC office two weeks ago to practice her English ahead of a scholarship interview for an international university, and I was humbled and astonished by her courage, self-confidence and her passion. Talking to Nhung and hearing her incredible story brought home to me just how special and transformative the gift of education can be, how keenly the children and youngsters seize that opportunity and how hard they work to try and make their lives better and their dreams come true. We wish Nhung all the very best and will follow her story as she pursues her passion. Thank you to all donors for supporting many other children just like her.
An exciting development this year is that ANZ through Project 3E have generously decided to support 300 older children with scholarships in Long My district in Hau Giang province, where this year we will complete construction of their 6th and 7th schools. Project 3E has been a huge success in helping to transform the education prospects for children in a focused geographic area, and we are enormously grateful to ANZ and their staff all over the world for supporting children, parents and teachers in Vietnam, and particularly in the Long My community, in this way.
I also need to give a particular shout out also to Dragon Capital who in recognition of their 20th anniversary in Vietnam gave SCC a wonderful donation last year that will continue to support a large number of students at university for many years to come. Such a gift will allow us to guarantee funding for those students through their entire courses. Wonderful!
Development and Integration
Our team has now put in place a wide portfolio of vocational courses for older students all with a strong focus on employability. We have terrific support from Children for a Better World, from Dragon Capital, Jeremy and Jennifer Paulson-Ellis, and from Dears Brain. Our Hospitality course in particular continues to flourish and thank you to Repsol have recently agreed to provide funding for future courses. It is so encouraging to see graduates from these courses working in different restaurants and hotels around the city, developing a career and building their prospects.
With funding from Lufthansa Help Alliance our Working with Others programme has just completed its grant round for this year, again focusing on programmes to support children with a disability. I recently sat in on an evening for parents of children with autism and saw first-hand how quickly and effectively specialists from the UK could educate, encourage and reassure parents who do not have ready access to special needs education guidance and support. Thanks so much to Charlotte and Lauren for giving their time to come to Vietnam to share their knowledge and expertise not only with parents but also by training local teachers, building much-needed local capacity for the future.
The School Building programme has been running strongly again this year with terrific support from several donors including Prudential Vietnam and the Prudence Fund, ANZ Bank, REE Corp, Premier Oil, Credit Suisse Singapore, BASF, AEFA and Rob Drake-Brockman, Stuart Bamford and friends from the UK. WE also thanks BASF and Nippon Paint for helping with provision of paints and materials for several schools.
This year we will be building and renovating 14 schools to provide over 40 classrooms, mostly for kindergarten and primary school children in remote rural areas, and this year not only in the Mekong Delta, but also in Quang Tri (in central Vietnam) and with the encouragement of local authorities, for the first time in two northern provinces near Hanoi, Phu Tho and Ninh Binh. There is great need for support in some of the northern rural and mountain provinces and this marks a significant step for SCC in expanding our scope of work further afield. Congratulations to our hard-working SB team for overcoming significant hurdles to make this possible and to the donors for supporting us in doing so.
Staff and Admin
Behind the scenes we have been working to improve our IT infrastructure and processes: this includes the new contact and mailing system, and in the months to come an update to our website and the introduction of a CRM system to help us improve our management of our data and communication. These developments are essential to keep us up to date in this increasingly digital age.
On the staff side we have had two changes in senior positions this year. Ms Nguyen Le Yeu Thuong started as Head of Fundraising and Communications in February, and more recently Ms Nguyen Thi Duy Huong took over as Head of Programmes. Huong has been promoted after 4 years as Programme Manager of our Development and Integration programmes, whereas Thuong had worked previously with other NGOs in HCMC. Both have slotted in quickly and strongly, and I am sure you will join me in welcoming them to their new roles.
As Huong steps up as Head of Programmes we say a sad, but also happy farewell, after 8 years, to Ms Giang. We will greatly miss Giang’s experience, knowledge passion and energy, but also congratulate her on becoming Executive Director of another local NGO. Happily she will retain strong links with SCC and will continue to act as an advisor to Huong during the transition. Thank you Giang for your enormous contribution to the development of SCC, and good luck in your new position.
Finally, a quick mention also to Rob Haggett our longstanding volunteer this year who has worked his magic in the Fundraising team and been a welcome additional male presence in the office! Many thanks for your support Rob and for staying much longer than you expected! Volunteers are always welcome here at SCC and contribute so much to our work, especially around events and fundraising. Rob is a terrific example and you can read more about his experiences elsewhere in the newsletter. If you are interested in helping us in any way, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.