Lan Oanh was a recipient of saigonchildren’s scholarship from primary school until her graduation from University. In the 13 years, saigonchildren witnessed her growth from a girl in 4th grade to a designer. Oanh also has gradually become a meaningful member of saigonchildren’s family, closely following all of our activities, even after graduating and no longer receiving our scholarship.
Oanh’s hometown is Dong Nai. She used to live with her parents and her brother, who is 4 years older. Before, her family faced many difficulties – her parents are farmers trying to raise two kids and put them through school. In 4th grade, Oanh received a scholarship from saigonchildren through her Principal’s recommendation.
“I still remember the day saigonchildren’s brothers and sisters came to visit me, I was washing clothes in a big box. That time, my mom had just suffered a miscarriage and was hospitalised – I was home alone, I didn’t even know why I received a scholarship. But ever since saigonchildren joined me on my journey, my family’s circumstances have improved massively. I was supported with scholarships, so my parents only had to worry about my brother. When I was in high school, I was also supported with rice from saigonchildren every month. They even gifted me a bicycle – I’ve really worn it out using it every day during middle school and high school. Saigonchildren’s brothers and sisters are so cute, they were so enthusiastic when they came to my house to talk to me, so I really value them!” – Oanh shares.
Oanh studied interior design at Van Lang University for 4 years. Oanh shares that at the start, she wanted to study fashion design, but her mum advised her to study interior design, so she applied for that major. The more she studied and had the opportunity to experience, the more she started to like the subject, and now she has a job in a related industry. When she was at University, each semester would cost 15 million in tuition fees. Saigonchildren’s scholarship only partially supported the costs, so the rest still had to be covered by her family. Outside of school, Oanh also looked for, or had friends recommend, jobs painting murals for cafes, earning about 500,000 VND a day, which is just enough to cover living expenses. Oanh even had the opportunity to draw for a famous dairy brand thanks to the connections she has built.
“The first two years of University for me was normal, but in 3rd year, the pressure to study and complete a large number of projects, as well as the pressure for money needed to complete the projects, was extremely stressful for me. During that time my family also faced some difficulties, even with extra jobs, I did not make enough, I had to borrow from friends. At that time, I even considered deferring for a year to focus on working and making money and return to study later. I asked my mum and she also agreed for me to take time off school to work. But luckily, I was supported by you. That time, I wrote a letter of affection to saigonchildren, and about my plans to defer – then, Phuong invited me to participate in some activities to destress. I took some time to think things through and decided to continue my studies to have a degree, then I can work to pay off the debt later. So, I started to go to school, stopped taking time off. After overcoming that challenge, I’ve found my life to be much better.”
Oanh shares that she feels lucky to be working in a field related to her studies, lucky to have had the support that helped her become who she is today – confident and grown. Therefore, Oanh always wants to contribute. Not only does she wholeheartedly participate in social work activities at school, whenever saigonchildren organises activities such as training sessions or alumni meetings, Oanh also participates. Oanh is also the Leader of Go Vap’s fundraising team, who often provide gifts to children during the Mid-Autumn Festival and support children in disadvantaged circumstances.
Oanh has grown a lot. She can support herself and help support her mum. She plans to continue working at her current job to gain more experience and hopes to one day work at a bigger company.
“The most meaningful thing that the scholarship and saigonchildren gave me, was the motivation to become who I am today. Before, I was an idler, did not think too much about anything. I never imagined I could become who I am today. I received so much support from you, from primary school til university, so now I want to be like you, to give back”.