Smiles & Soy Milk Mustaches

1 week ago
COV’s Case Study for Comprehensive Children’s Care in Rural Vietnam

A chorus of cheerful laughter wafts through the thick, muggy air on another humid day in the Vietnamese countryside. Follow the source of the sound past a large metal gate underneath a concrete archway. Playground equipment gives the location away. The school is Sơn Tân, a kindergarten nestled in a rural, mountainous region southwest of Hoi An, Vietnam, where 57% of the population lives below and near poverty. 

Upon entering one of the classrooms, a sea of smiles greets you—from 34 kindergarteners to be exact, each laying atop a colorful sleeping cot; about to go down for their nap. Giggles and waves are exchanged before the lights go out and the door is closed. 

The school provides not only early childhood education and daycare services, but it also serves as a beacon of hope through programs developed and funded by Children of Vietnam (COV) and implemented by local partners and school staff.

These programs are designed to address multidimensional poverty, a measure that considers various disadvantages people experience simultaneously, such as poor health, malnutrition, lack of clean water, electricity, or quality education. This comprehensive approach reveals not just who is poor, but how they are poor, and provides them the tools to empower them to break the cycle of poverty for their families and future generations.

All smiles at Sơn Tân school as kindergarteners lay down on their sleeping cots in preparation for nap time.

Despite Vietnam’s tremendous, nationally-measured child-focused developmental progress, pockets of chronically poor families and those suffering from multidimensional poverty remain a key concern, especially for ethnic minority groups and for many people living in remote rural areas[1] such as the Son Tan commune, where Trường Mâm Non Sơn Tân is located. Of the commune’s 775 households, all are Hre, Kinh, and Kdong ethnic minorities.

COV’s programs at the kindergarten focus on three pillars: educating for the future, keeping children nourished, and providing clean water and sanitation.

[1] UNICEF // “Viet Nam Key Results 2022

Chris Brinlee, Jr.