Nam Harrison is a 13-year-old American boy who was adopted from Vietnam when he was just eleven months. Nam has a huge heart and big plans to give back to his birth country. Before adopting Nam, his parents did some humanitarian work through the Children of Vietnam (COV) nonprofit. Witnessing firsthand the poverty that families in rural Vietnam must endure, the Harrison’s wanted to give back to the country that gave them their most precious gift. In partnership with COV, and with the help of his parents and family friends, Nam Harrison and Clara Wilson built a kindergarten in Danang that serves 122 kids every day.
Nam’s first idea was to turn his 9th birthday party into a FUNdraiser for Children of Vietnam to buy a jungle gym for the kindergarten. He gave up all his birthday presents, asking instead for friends and family to donate toward the cause. Nam’s community and loved ones supported his mission in a big way. He raised $15,000! This would empower him to give much more than a swing set and climbing frame! It also inspired many of his young friends to give up their birthday presents too and raise money for the less fortunate children on the other side of the globe.
It was a fantastic start, and this global citizen had big ideas. Now that the kindergarten was in good shape, “How about a first grade, Mom?” with Children of Vietnam as their guides, The Harrison family took a memorable trip to Vietnam, the first since his adoption. After visiting the kindergarten, the COV staff took the Harrisons up the rugged dirt road to the Truong Son Mountains in Quang Nam Province. The stark contrast between the stunning countryside and the dire poverty of the villages struck a deep chord. Barriers to accessing education are concentrated in specific regions in Vietnam like this one, where an estimated 20% of ethnic minority children have no access to primary education. Seeing the dirt floor shack that served as the C’Tu tribe children’s school, Nam became determined to build them a better one. “We have to do better than this! They don’t even have toilets or clean water!”
But the price tag to build, staff, supply, and maintain the school is a hefty $75,000. Nam had some work to do! Returning to Los Angeles, Nam inspired more kids to have “FUNdraiser” birthdays, and their parents got inspired too. The whole community rallied. Mendocino Farms Restaurants created the “Charity Chicken Banh Mi” to help the cause. The Plum Spring Foundation, MoneyGram Foundation, and Disney Publishing all donated. In 2019, at 11 years old, Nam realized his dream! He and his family returned to Alua, Quang Nam. They cut the ribbon on a beautiful primary schoolhouse, with two classrooms, desks, chairs, chalkboards, climbing frames and playground equipment, a water filtration system for the whole commune, and toilets! The Nam Harrison School serves grades 1-5.
One would think he would be satisfied with such an achievement. But as usual, Nam Harrison wants to help the kids who “aren’t as lucky as he is” and he is pushing everyone to do better.
Nam wants to provide the children of this Alua community with a computer lab to reach the world and open their minds up to what is possible. He wants to build a soccer pitch with grass and not hardened mud and equipment to play with. Nam also wants to build nicer accommodations for the teachers in hopes that they will attract better ones. And upon hearing of the terrible outcome of the recent storms and flooding and the pandemic, Nam is very concerned about the broken roads and lack of vaccines.
Nam is about to turn 14. Will you help him celebrate in the way he loves most? Make a donation to his FUNdraising birthday cause (let COV know via their donation form!)… and join this global citizen to change the lives of young children.
According to UNICEF, a pressing need in Vietnam address educational outcomes for ethnic minority children due to limited access to schools, quality bilingual instruction, materials, and other resources. Being behind other children academically adds to the many factors that could lead to dropping out of school and leaving behind the opportunities a good education can provide.
Ethnic minority children are particularly at risk and have much to gain from education.
- Ethnic minority children make up more than 60% of all poor children.
- Facing language barriers and long, difficult treks to school, ethnic minority children are 20 – 25% less likely to complete the first five years of primary education than the majority of children.
- There are high drop-out rates among children from ethnic minorities in remote villages.
Thank you. “Cảm ơn bạn”
Children of Vietnam lifts children out of poverty by eliminating barriers to fulfilling their potential through wraparound services that focus on one child, one family, one community at a time.