I was first enrolled in Saigon Children’s Charity’s (SCC) vocational programme at grade 8 when I was taking an English course at Thang Long School. The course greatly helped me to improve my communication skills. Owning to the cooperation between SCC and its partners, I had invaluable chances to study at professional English training schools such as British Council and ACET, which I could never have dreamed about experiencing.
When I got admitted to the Sociology Department of Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2010, I started to receive bursaries from SCC to financially assist me during the full 4 years of the programme. This released me from the financial pressure of annual tuition fees so I could focus more on my studies. To cover my living cost, I took on many part-time jobs that could fit into my schedule, from a kitchen assistant at Pizza Hut to a waitress at a restaurant.
My parents separated when I was at grade 3. My father was a driver assistant, and with his low salary, he could only support me a small amount to cover my monthly school fees. When I was about to graduate from High School, my father had a car accident and could not work anymore; hence my mother became my only source of financial support. In the second year of university, my father sadly passed away which mother found very hard to deal with. In addition, she succumbed to a condition that left her with severe joint pains, and led to her struggling to be able to walk, and subsequently work. As I was studying in the city, I had to leave my mother alone in the family home to support herself. I worked very hard to financially support her, but I still could only send mere hundreds of thousands of VND (~US$25) per month, which I saved from my part-time jobs’ salary. If it wasn’t for the support from SCC, I know I would not have been able to continue my studies at the university.
In addition to the financial support, SCC also offered me soft-skill training classes that greatly helped to boost my confidence. I also learnt a great deal working in the Organizing Committee of the SCC Alumni Network, where I gained real-life experience in teamwork, plans development, and about the organization that goes into events.
Besides family and school, the teachers at Thang Long School and SCC team have played important roles in my upbringing. I really treasure those connections and our memories.
Now looking back what I have been through, I feel so proud of myself and happy at the same time. After graduating with my Bachelor degree, I started to work at the Child Development Programme of SCC. I now have the opportunity to help disadvantaged children who were in the very position I was in just a few years ago.