The Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 in Hanoi with the goal to further the sustainable development of Vietnam through community-based interventions. In 2012, CSDS started its Global Exchange Program that brings bright, positive volunteers who are passionate about helping people from all over the world to Vietnam. In the last six years, CSDS has welcomed more than 1,700 volunteers from over 10 countries, including the United States, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, to join different projects such as teaching languages, caring for disabled children or building school facilities.
Based on the success of this program, CSDS has started countless projects to create changes in Vietnam such as the scholarship for poor students (Bright Future Fund), the lunch for children in the mountains and school building in remote areas (Sao Bien).
The Bright Future Fund (BFF) was initiated in 2016 with the aim to provide more equal opportunities to higher education for disadvantaged youths. Over the last three years, BFF has provided 35 scholarships, each worth 12 million VND (about C$700), in total. Two-thirds of the money goes towards the students’ tuition while the last one third goes to soft-skill training sessions to help the scholarship recipients stay more self-confident and more competitive in the job market.
One of these recipients is Vu Thi Hop, a 20-year-old girl from Tan Phong, Man Duc, Tan Lac, Hoa Binh province. Vu has dreamed of becoming a pharmacist ever since she was a young girl. Because of her extremely difficult background, her dream has yet to become a reality. Her father suffers from a mental illness and lost his sight. He doesn’t usually go outside and cannot provide any financial support for his family. Vu’s mother is the main wage earner. Due to hemorrhaging and complications in labor, she could not breastfeed her children and has struggled with poor health ever since. Despite this, she works tirelessly for her niece selling groceries at a local market. This provides the family with just enough money to send Vu and her twin sister to school. Given such an incredibly tough set of circumstances, Vu didn’t know what to do. Should she stop studying and begin selling vegetables at the market to support her family, or continue her studies and leave her mother to single-handedly strive on her own? Receiving support from the Bright Future Fund has been life changing as it has given Vu the chance to study at the Hanoi College of Pharmacy. Ever since being awarded the scholarship, Vu has seen her mother smiling and asking about her studies every day, despite her weak health. In the future, Vu wants to become a highly-skilled pharmacist, know more about pharmaceuticals and medication, and help to cure her mother and other people just like her.
CSDS will continue its successful projects in the years to come and support many more people in need. The organization offers scholarships to 100 students a year, gives away free lunches for 500 children in poor villages in the mountains, plus builds 10 schools and 20 toilets for them. CSDS aims to engage 500 international volunteers and more than 1,000 local youths each year in community projects who not only give a hand, but also oversee the work with a high level of transparency and accountability.
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