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Street children get a taste of education

In Vietnam, volunteers bring new meaning to French lessons

Street children get a taste of education
French volunteers supervise lessons in a classroom in Hue reporter, Hue

September 23, 2011

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Volunteers from a Catholic society in France help bring a bright future to poor children in a central city by giving them free education. “We are providing free education and material support for hundreds of children from poor families as a way to help them escape poverty in the future,” Victor Lacoine, a volunteer from Societe des Missions Etrangere de Paris (MEP, Paris Foreign Missions Society), said. Victor, 19, who started to work in Hue City in March, said he and another colleague teach English to classes with 120 street children and those whose families live on boats on local rivers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those classes run by local sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres are also given mathematics and reading by Vietnamese volunteers. Victor, a seminary candidate of MEP, said he wants to work with local people and try to do something to help them. He travels by bicycle around the city to visit people in city slums. He said hundreds of local children have to sell lottery tickets, cigarettes and chewing gum on streets, collect used items or polish people’s shoes for a living. Augustin Le Gendre, another volunteer, said he is happy to work with local children and learn the local language and cultural values from them. Augustin, 18, said this month they just opened two classes for 80 children living under local bridges and on rivers. They teach them English, mathematics, plays, songs and how to brush their teeth, wash their hands before meals and communicate with other people. He said they also give children pens, notebooks, handkerchiefs, toothpaste, toothbrushes and food. Nguyen Thang, a non-Catholic who has two children attending those classes, said he is grateful to volunteers who teach good things to local children. “They (children) no longer fight with each other, swear or steal things from others,” he noted. MEP members work throughout India, China, South Korea and Southeast Asia.
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