Dear friends of Mai Nha,
2021 has been once again a rather special year for Mai Nha due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has been much greater this year than last year throughout Vietnam. This situation has been a true concern to all of us involved at Mai Nha. However, we feel very fortunate that neither the children nor our team members have been infected by the virus. The rapidly changing circumstances and related lockdown decisions did directly impact our day-to-day organization and operating best practices. Despite these special circumstances and multiple constraints, we have been able to consolidate our ongoing initiatives at our family homes and make solid progress in our education related program.
Mai Nha Family Homes
The 16 children living at the Mai Nha Family Homes are doing very well and continue to grow up as a true family. From the eldest child, Tuyen, 14 years old now, down to the youngest Duong, 7 years old, all are living in rather optimal conditions surrounded by a highly competent, committed and loving local staff as well as extremely dedicated support resources such as the Saigon-based child psychologists. Due to Covid and the related decisions to close the local schools, the children have spent most of their time at home studying, playing together and frequently assisting the nannies with the daily chores.
As the various lockdowns in 2021 have been extremely strict covering several months, no visitors nor service providers were allowed on the premises including our school tutor and English teacher. Also, there has been on several occasions a total ban on traveling and commuting to and from Phan Thiet and other nearby villages. This meant for instance that even Mrs. Han, our supervisor living in Phan Thiet, was not allowed to come to Mai Nha. As a result, she had to rely on local police officers to deliver cash from the bank in Phan Thiet to Mai Nha to cover the daily living expenses.
The child psychology and psychiatry team, comprised of four highly experienced and motivated professionals, based in Saigon, were also impacted by the various lock downs and travel bans. Despite these “barriers”, Mrs. Hoa, the child psychologist in charge of the team and volunteer, continued week after week with follow ups with the team by phone and subsequent reporting to Mai Nha senior management. Frequent communication took place with Mrs. Han to ensure optimal support to the local team.
Also, with Pauline, we did continue our regular FaceTime sessions with all the children. Every time, without exception, we were impressed by the sheer happiness and cheerfulness of each of the children and the “family feeling” they conveyed. All this has convinced us time and again that the children are all very well taken care of. Each child being raised as a unique individual within the family.
The school results of all children, despite the various lockdowns, are overall satisfactory with some of the children having excellent results whilst others are average. None of the children experience structural issues at school. Except for the lockdown periods, several children did benefit from homework support at Mai Nha during the school year and school holidays from a teacher eager to ensure all children attend school in optimal conditions. As mentioned above, Mai Nha’s local staff continues to do an outstanding job. Their commitment and caring attitude are impressive. What is also remarkable is the fact that each of the staff members understands and adheres completely to our high-level quality requirements despite the fact they are not necessarily used to them. This has been particularly the case during the past 12 months during which very strict rules have been defined to mitigate the risks of infection. Finally, it is worth mentioning again that, without exception, the local resources in charge of the 16 children are all Vietnamese so no foreigners operate locally on a daily basis which is in line with our fundamental belief that Mai Nha should be a 100% Vietnamese run organization in order to ensure long-term, high-quality results benefiting all children Mai Nha has decided to support.
Mai Nha’s Scholarships
This year, Mai Nha has decided to support 83 students.
As mentioned in last year’s newsletter, we are extremely pleased to support once again a higher number of university students (20 versus 14 last year and 11 the year before). The selection process of each of the students has been once again conducted in close cooperation with the local authorities based on even stricter selection criteria given the increased financial needs in order to support university-level scholarships. It highlights the excellent relationship we have with the local authorities which we believe is of paramount importance for the long-term success of this program.
As of this academic year, Mai Nha’s scholarship program is exclusively managed by the Mai Nha Education team which allows Mrs. Han, in charge of our Mai Nha Family Homes, to focus exclusively on the children and the local team which is important as the children are gradually entering their teenage years.
As far as the financial support is concerned to the university students, Mai Nha Education’s Executive Board has decided as of this year to cap the maximum amount of annual support at 16.000.000 VND (about USD 700) which for over 90% of the students covers 100% of their actual costs.
By taking this decision, Mai Nha will be able to support an ever-increasing number of university students without jeopardizing the solidity of its financial foundations. For the students requiring funding in excess of 16.000.000 VND, Mai Nha will provide guidance and support to the student in order to ensure proper funding of his/her needs (through non-Mai Nha contributions, part time jobs etc.)
Finally, given the rapidly increasing number of university scholarship students in Saigon, Mai Nha will accelerate the one-on-one coaching program for each of the students.
More specifically, a senior Vietnamese professional working in a business environment often as part of the senior management team, will play the coaching role over time. We are very pleased with the initial progress made with several companies which, most of the time, are also financial sponsors of Mai Nha.
Mai Nha’s New School Project
The new school project has made solid progress despite the headwinds caused by Covid.
Early 2021, as expected, we did receive the operating license from the provincial authorities which does allow Mai Nha Education, as distinct
legal entity, to roll-out its English-speaking programs starting with the “pilot” which will take place at an existing, rented facility. We expect the pilot to last for 12-18 months and will start as soon as the school lockdown has been lifted.
We are also very pleased with the recruitment of Mrs. Tuyet as English teacher. Mrs. Tuyet has proven to be a highly dedicated, capable and hard-working professional focused on the success of her students.
And finally, it is worth mentioning the impressive motivation and commitment of Lan Anh and Sjoerd Zwinkels. As volunteers and local “spearheads” of Mai Nha Education, they put significant energy and expertise behind the Education related programs despite the fact they both have full time jobs. I cannot enough underline the importance of their role in pulling off this ambitious English school project.
Like previous years, I am very pleased to share with you the fact that Mai Nha has delivered in 2021 on all critical goals and objectives.
All 16 children at the family homes are thriving and the local team and organization are delivering results beyond expectations. Their professionalism, long term commitment and sense of ownership make us extremely confident that Mai Nha’s mission, objectives and long-term goals will be met.
And once again we have been able to experience the solid and committed support from the local authorities who are highly appreciative of everything Mai Nha is contributing to the local community in a pragmatic way. And finally, we, at Mai Nha, keep on realizing that all thes achievements would not have been possible without the generous and loyal support from our sponsors who believe in us: in what we want to accomplish and in the way we do reach our objectives year after year. We very much thank you and wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.