by Corinne Yank, Communications Manager

GoPhil partner Children’s Education Foundation (CEF) in Vietnam recently held a virtual gathering for their community of friends, donors, and supporters. It was a great opportunity for GoPhil to catch up on all things CEF, hear from both team members and several students, and learn more about recent challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and what the future holds.

CEF currently supports 200 disadvantaged students’ access to quality education and meaningful opportunities. Thanks to generous support from their donor base, including the GoPhil Rapid Response Fund, they were able to distribute COVID-19 relief support to 22 families in April, 37 families in May, and 42 families in June. They expect needs to go down in the coming months, as businesses and factories are beginning to reopen and more people are able to once again earn a living. For those families relying on tourism for income though, the struggle will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some CEF programs have understandably had to be put on hold or postponed, such as Water Days or Girls to Women workshops. However, they are now able to gather in groups of up to 30 people, which means they are now able to re-start some of their smaller training sessions. Fortunately, they have not had to cut staff salaries or let any team members go during the crisis.

Human trafficking is of growing concern for the CEF team; with so many people having lost their daily wages and finding themselves in more desperate situations, risks of trafficking and exploitation are at an all-time high. Also, because the industry is so lucrative, the technology and means of trafficking continue to evolve rapidly. For example, last year they heard that some university students who were studying Chinese were being targeted and trafficked into forced marriages, labor, and sexual exploitation in China. The CEF team is working to raise awareness of these new trends and risks among students and parents in the communities they support.

Overall, alongside news of many challenges, we heard plenty of inspiring stories and reasons to remain hopeful. Hearing directly from four CEF students and seeing their smiling, appreciative faces made us feel especially optimistic about all that lies ahead.

A huge THANK YOU to all CEF and Rapid Response Fund supporters who have provided priceless motivation and solidarity to GoPhil, the CEF team members, and the CEF students over the course of this crisis!