One of the highlights of our yearly visits to SE Asia involves joining CEF staff on their homes visits to our GoPhil sponsored students in Central Vietnam.  This year we saw close to 20 of our 37 students in total, many with amazingly heart warming stories of a child’s ability to stay in school thanks to their sponsor’s generosity.

This year was extra special as travelers Cassie Lauver (age 13) and her mother Sherri were able to meet their sponsored CEF student Minh.  GoPhil has had the pleasure of facilitating several visits between sponsors and their students over the years, and we are forever amazed with what transpires–there are always serendipitous moments one could never plan.  This year, we were so touched when Cassie’s student, who comes from a very impoverished family, bought, decorated and offered Cassie a gift with the money she had received from TET celebrations (Chinese New Year).  It was such beautiful act of genuine gratitude for the support Minh receiving.

Last year when Gophil sponsors Carolyn and Madeleine Larsen visited their student Dung, she was ready to drop out of school but yet decided to remain, partly due to their encouragement.  She is in 10th grade now, lives in a very poor neighborhood with a mentally ill uncle, and most of her friends have dropped out of school and are working.  When GoPhil’s Linda DeWolf visited her this year, Dung’s grades were solid and she realizes she wants to finish school and/or consider vocational training.

CEF offers several critical support programs such as literacy, anti-trafficking education and a mentorship program which will help girls like Dung navigate the various options relating to educational choices.  This can be quite intimidating to  child whose family has never attended school.  Dung’s story is one of a young woman who is clever and has a future, yet who may not have had the options to explore her potential without organizations like CEF who take great care in monitoring and nurturing their students.

Dung forges on with her studies

Loan--overjoyed with her art suppliesDuring these visits we are thrilled to be able to hand deliver special notes and little gifts from their sponsors here in the US. This bright little student, lives under extremely trying conditions at home yet has a dream to become an artist. Her GoPhil sponsors MaryAnn and Greg Rivers know this through their communications and sent some art supplies through Linda to hand over in Vietnam. Linda’s words after handing over the sketch book and pencils remind us of the importance of this work and of true engagement. “Never ever have I seen a child more overjoyed. It was probably one of the best moments ever.”

GoPhil also participated in CEF’s annual art/creativity day with the children. This is always great fun with lots of  giggling and laughter as the children made and decorated colorful boxes to take home to their families.

All told it was a very productive visit with CEF who continue to provide a vital source of opportunity for girls who might not otherwise break the cycle of poverty their families have experienced for decades.  We look forward to sharing the updates with our donors.



“The Lindas”:   GoPhil’s Linda DeWolf and CEF Founder Linda Burn