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News 12/07 - The Educational Center for Ethnic Minorities of Lai Thieu, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

The Educational Centre "Lai Thieu" for Ethnic Minority Children is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Lai Thieu is a small, private institution founded by French nuns and missionaries in 1987. It all started with 3 children from very poor Ethnic Minority Tribes that could neither read or write and had no kind of education. Only 2 years later, in 1989, the Centre had already grown up to 57 children and today the Centre is shelter and school of over 170 children.

The Centre is still run by nuns and missionaries under the management of Sister Marie-Huu - a Vietnamese nun that has dedicated her life to the education of children of Ethnic Minorities.

What does Ethnic Minorities mean?

The children living and studying at the Educational Centre are children from so called Ethnic Minority Tribes. That means that they are mostly living along the border to Cambodia, Laos or China and legally don't belong to any country, neither to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or China. Mostly living without papers and any legal rights, these families have no access to public schools and/ or cannot afford to send their children to schools far away from home. Ethnic Minorities make up approximately 8% of the total population of Vietnam - that is around 9 million people.

The children normally arrive at the Center at the age of 6 to 16, without any reading or writing abilities. In Lai Thieu the children are going to school, learn to read & write. The children stay at the Centre until they finish middle school, then continue with either high school or an apprenticeship and later a job or prepare for University entrance examination.

The huge impact of educating children - especially those from very traditional tribes - becomes obivous when thinking a bit further: Usually children of Ethnic Minorities get married at the age of 15 or 16. If the parents, especially the mother, is not able to read or write, they will not be able to educate their own children. So, educating these children means educating not only one but many generations of children.

As the Centre is privately run by nuns and have no support from the Government, they are very short of money, food and all other goods. Rice, for example, is always in need - per month the children eat around 1,5 tons. Fish and meat are rarely on the menue and therefore food donations are always very welcome in Lai Thieu.

We are very proud to be a part of this amazing project set up by Sister Marie Huu and hope to make many more good news together in the future.

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