Frequently Asked Questions

 

What are the areas of operation?

Right now our organization is active mostly in the island villages namely Con Bung, Con Rung, Con Cao, Con Lon, Con Mit, Con Diep, Con Tra, Con Huou, Con Dai, Con Loi, Con Dam, Chau Thanh,Mo Cay, Giong Trom. These island villages belong to Thanh Phong, Thanh Hai, Thanh Loi, Thanh Loc, Thanh Phuoc, Giao Thanh, An Nhon, and An Dien provinces in Thanh Phu region, Ben Tre county in South Vietnam. These island villages border the Pacific ocean; they are farthest away from the city and barely touched by civilization. Because of their distance and undeveloped roads, they have not been helped by any charity organizations. Most of the villagers work as wood choppers or fishermen.


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The average salary is one to two dollars per day per household. This low income makes it a constant struggle to put food on the table on a daily basis as rice is at fifty cents per kilo. Thus, these families can’t afford to buy notebooks, pens, and pencils for their children to study. The only source of help they are getting is from the local government; however, its funding is very limited, and the number of people who need help is overwhelming.

In the future when resources are available, we will look into expanding to other regions.


What is the cost to build a house?

This is the itemized cost of each house, the basic house which is 3.5 to 4 meters wide and 7.5 to 8 meters long (each meter is about 3 feet).

  • Roof made of metal sheets, $350 US dollars, roof last average 25 years
  • Foundation (bricks, cement, dirt, tile) : $300 US dollars
  • Pillars (cement outside with steel in the middle), $250 US dollars
  • Front side of house (made of bricks) : $150 US dollars
  • Front door, front window: $150 us dollars
  • Labor cost to build the house (4 workers in 15 days): $500
  • The other 3 sides of the house will be made of coconut leaves. The owner will get the leaves from the forest. Most of the time they are free or cost little. We will help getting the leaves from the forest for the elderly.
  • Costs paid to VN staff to coordinate the house's construction, get permits, take pictures and load for us: $80.  We used to pay $50, but this is way too low and not enough to cover their costs.  We can't find new volunteers at the old price.  Some just did 1 day and dropped out.
  • Money transfer fee (cost to transfer $1780 to Vietnam): $20

Total cost to build a house: $1800

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What is the criteria of selection?

1. For school projects:

We help all schools and all grades from K to 12. We distribute notebooks, pens, pencils, bicycles, and college tuition fees for 12th graders who passed the college entrance exam. To be selected, a student’s family must be on the village’s poverty’s list.

We get the list of students who meet the criteria from the principal of each school. When the goods to be distributed is less than the number needed,(like in the bicycle distribution project), it’s up to the teachers and the school principal to further select the most needy students amongst the poverty list.

2. For Rice Distribution:
We get the list of people in poverty directly from the local government, and distribute to as many families on this list as we have funding for that particular year. We have been providing for 200 families in the past. This year we are going to cover 300 families. For the elderly we also provide transportation if they live far and are too weak to carry 20 kilos of rice.

3. For housing projects:

Any one on the village’s poverty list can apply for help when their house is torn down. We also get the names from the village’s waiting list. The average waiting time for a family to get a house from the local government is 5 years. In the meantime, if their house collapsed, they will not have any place to live. The average life of a typical house in these villages is 4 to 5 years.

We post the pictures of these houses and the family’s condition on our website in the order of the waiting list; however, it’s up to our donors to pick from this website which one they want to sponsor. We will build the house as soon as we get the money from the donors.

The villagers can also initiate their request directly with our organization for help. In this case, we will check their poverty status with the village’s list, then inspect their house, and post it on the web. They will be considered the same way as if they were on the village’s waiting list. The reason we let our donor pick the house is because although some houses have not been long on the waiting list, they are in pretty bad shape and really needed to be fixed right away. A picture is worth a thousand words, our donors usually look and choose the most deserving ones to be built first.

 

How the projects are carried out?

The cost of a notebook, textbook for each grade level, pen, pencil, bicycle, a kilogram of rice, and to build the most basic house is very standard and common knowledge. When we initiate a project, we have a number of how many people we will give to and how much that item is, so we just calculate and get a total. We allow some money for transportation of that good to the distribution center, then add them up and send the needed amount to HyVongMoi, our counterpart, in Vietnam.

HyVongMoi is a charity organization in Vietnam, formed by a group of volunteers like us here. They help us in seeking government permission to assemble people for distribution, getting the list of needy people from the school principals and villages, buying the goods, locating contractors to build the houses, and distributing the goods to the villagers and students. They take pictures to validate the process and send them to us.

After a distribution is done, HyVongMoi, will get a receipt from the local government stating the amount of goods received by the people for a rice distribution. For the school projects, HyVongMoi gets the receipts from the principal, stating how many of the goods were received. For the housing project, the pictures of the house from ground breaking to completion is our receipts.