After starting construction on their most ambitious project to date — a fully-equipped home for 100 orphaned and abandoned youth in Long An Province, a place which will teach them the skills they need to go on to successful adult lives — Les Enfants du Dragon sent out a call for support:
We focus today on an important project that we call our ‘heart project’: this is the full construction of an orphanage for 100 children from Can Giuoc, Long An Province.
The project consists of creating a reception centre for orphans and abandoned children with a capacity of approximately 100 children, with the objective of assuring their education and preparing them to be integrated into the local social and economic environment.
We started the construction on May 31, 2014, even if all the funding necessary hasn’t yet been found. This project is expected to last about eight months…
NOW MORE THAN EVER, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT AND YOUR HELP!
Private donations or businesses and sponsors… we need funds! But we also need materials, equipment, furniture. Don’t let these children down — help us by participating in a wonderful adventure!"
The intent is present, if not the capacity — yet. But Marc de Muynck, co-founder of French NGO Les Enfants du Dragon along with his co-national Bui Huy Lan, isn’t put off by the odds. After all, his organisation has been overcoming them for the past five years — en-route to building 39 wells, 82 homes, numerous rainwater catchments and a range of services for children, the elderly, AIDS sufferers and those who need support.
The intent is to give these children something every child should have. “We would love to offer them not only a steady place to live,” Marc says, “but also a real education, professional training, the opportunity to learn foreign languages like French and English.
“[This will be] a place where these children can truly feel like they’re living in a big family. A place where they will feel loved.”
A Groundswell of Support
Although construction has been ongoing since June, there is still nearly VND1 billion needed to complete the project. This is no halfway solution — the idea is to give these children everything they need, everything they deserve to have.
Implementation will take place over two years, during which the centre will be built, staffed and developed into a connection point for the community. Long An, one of Vietnam’s neediest areas, doesn’t yet have a facility like this. As the project grows more successful, the children of Long An will have more and more.
In France, Les Enfants du Dragon has been attracting the support of businesses, foster families who donate a monthly sum to support a child, and one Anh Dao Traxel.
When Mme. Traxel arrived with other Vietnamese refugees at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1979, she herself received a great kindness — a man who greeted her, saying, “Don’t cry any more, my dear. From now on, you will live with us.” The man, it turned out, was the mayor of Paris, later to become president of France. The man was Jacques Chirac.
As patron of the organisation, and someone who’s gone from abandonment to great success, Mme. Traxel hopes to bring her influence to the cause. And the odds don’t seem insurmountable any longer.
But that’s not where Marc has gotten his motivation. It’s from something far simpler than support, and where he’s concentrated his energies it’s in great supply.
“Man can only feel happy when helping more unlucky people than himself,” Marc says, “when man brings joy to kids without parents. I can’t imagine my life as a retiree, in laziness or in third-age leisure clubs. What can be more rewarding than recognition in the eyes of those you help?”