We have helped build another new bridge in Xà Phiên village, Long Mỹ district, Hậu Giang province. It is called ‘Kênh Cùng’ bridge, in hamlet 2, and is approximately 5 km from the ‘Đê Ngăn Mặn’ bridge that we helped rebuild previously.

The original old concrete bridge collapsed many years ago. The locals used bits of timber and bamboo trunks to construct a makeshift monkey bridge so that the children could go to the nearby schools.

Existing bridge

The new bridge, replacing the old bridge, is 30 m long, 3 m wide and with 5 Ton capacity. It was also designed by NEMO Construction Consultant in Vietnam, who has been providing us with pro bono bridge design services.

Design drawing for the new bridge

To allow easy passage of rice barges, the new bridge is a bit higher than the old bridge.

The total cost of the bridge was VND 158 million, of which Vietnam Foundation contributed VND 110 million (approximately AUD 6,600), the local authorities and people the remainder.

To allow proper alignment of the new bridge with the existing road, a local peasant donated some land for use in the approach to the bridge.

Construction work started straight after the ground-breaking ceremony on 17 November 2018.

Prof HC Hoài and Ms N N Mai at the ground-breaking ceremony

The new bridge under construction

The new bridge was completed and opened for traffic on 6 January 2019.

Present at the ceremony were many joyful locals, our representatives, Prof. Huỳnh Công Hoài and Ms Nguyễn Thị Huyền Trân, as well as Ms Nguyễn Ngọc Mai representing the Đồng Tâm Charity Group, which managed the bridge construction, and Mr Nguyễn Văn Vương, the engineer who designed the new bridge, representing NEMO Construction Consultant.

Many locals were so happy to have a new bridge that they brought along home-made food to celebrate the bridge opening and also approached our representatives to say thank you.


The new Kênh Cùng bridge


We helped build a new bridge to replace an old, rickety timber bridge in Hậu Giang province. Known by the locals as ‘Cầu Đê ngăn mặn’, it is located at Hamlet 7, Xà Phiên village, Long Mỹ district, 227 km from Saigon and 65 km from Cần Thơ.

Condition of the old bridge


Approaching road at one end of the bridge


The old bridge was in an appalling condition, presenting a huge danger to all users. In fact, it had caused many serious accidents for the locals, especially children going to the two nearby primary schools and a secondary school.

A very brave bridge user!



The new bridge is of concrete construction, 28m long, 3m wide and with 5 Ton capacity. Total cost amounted to VND 261 Million (about AUD 16,000), of which Vietnam Foundation contributed VND 140 Million, local people and authorities VN 80 Million and the Đồng Tâm Charity group, which managed the construction, VND 41 Million.

Design drawing of the new bridge


Ground breaking ceremony for the construction was held on 12 August 2018.

New bridge under construction


Bridge construction was completed in early October 2018.

The opening ceremony was held on 20 October 2018 with the presence of our representatives in Vietnam, Prof HC Hoài and Ms NT Huyền Trân, representatives of the Đồng Tâm Charity Group, the bridge design engineer and local people. Many local school children were presented with gifts of books and stationery on the occasion.

The new bridge at completion


First official walk across the new bridge. From Left to Right: Mr NV Vương, the bridge designer/engineer, Prof HC Hoài, VNF’s representative, Ms N Ngọc Mai, representative of the Đồng Tâm Charity Group and Ms NT Huyền Trân, VNF’s representative.


Local children, people and representatives of the groups which were involved in the bridge construction celebrating on the new bridge.


The plaque for the new bridge


Tân Thiết hamlet is part of Tân An district in the city of Long An with a population of 812. The principal business is farming with an estimated average family income of USD500/month. Electricity and town water are yet to be fully provided.  The main forms of transport are motorbikes and canoes. There are no local schools so children must travel to Tan An district everyday, via an old bridge.

The old Tân Thiết bridge was flimsy, narrow  with no handrails and had been damaged in several places. In September 2017, Vietnam Foundation was approached by Đồng Tâm Charity to jointly fund the construction of a new bridge. The total cost was 260 million đồng with a contribution of 100 million đồng (about AUD 6000) from Vietnam Foundation.

Tân Thiết Bridge (also known as Đồng Tâm 92 Bridge) was officially opened on the 28th of January, 2018. Tân Thiết bridge is 35 metres long, 3 metres wide with a maximum capacity of 5 tonnes. The new bridge will facilitate the passing of ambulances, small buses and trucks and provide more safety for young children going to schools.

In 2016-2017, Vietnam Foundation funded and supervised the construction of Hương Sen Kindergarten in Hòa An village, Phụng Hiệp District of Hậu Giang Province. The new kindergarten is a three-classroom building with modern toilet facilities. It was built on the site of an old two-classroom disused school. The site area was enlarged with additional lands donated and acquired by the local people. Construction was started in 2016 and the kindergarten was in full operation in January 2017, providing education facilities to 60 infant children from poor local families.

Site of the new Hương Sen kindergarten: an old, disused school

The new Hương Sen kindergarten under construction


Hòa An village is in a remote part of Hậu Giang, poor and riddled with problems such as effects of Orange Agent, lack of basic infrastructures etc. Most of the villagers derive income from agriculture: rice cultivation, sugarcane growing and fire-based farming.

As at 2015, Hòa An village’s education facilities consisted of one high school, four primary schools and two kindergartens. The total number of kindergarten classrooms in the village was 13, of which 7 was located at the main campus and 6 temporarily used primary school classrooms in satellite campuses in faraway locations.

The total number of 3 to 5 years old children is currently about 715. Due to lack of classrooms 33% of them do not attend kindergarten. As a result, some parents have to give up employment to look after young children at home, leading to losses of family income.

The new Hương Sen kindergarten at completion


Children’s toilets

The kindergarten is to be managed by Vietnam Foundation’s local partner, Vietnam Red Cross – Phụng Hiệp branch. Its funding application was introduced to the Foundation by a Vietnamese Charity Group, Hành Trình Yêu Thương (HTYT).  Vietnam Foundation’s funding to the project amounted to AUD 40,000, which was possible thanks to the generous bequeath of our late Judith Iltis. The local Red Cross contributed approximately AUD 20,000 for the purchase of additional land and site preparation work. The construction was supervised by Red Cross Phụng Hiệp and the Foundation’s local representative, Dr Lưu Thái Danh.

Unveiling the commemorative plaque during the opening ceremony in March 2017









Our email appeal for the Recycled Bicycle project in 2016 received enthusiastic responses from many members and supporters, some of whom took the initiative to organise activities to raise funds for it.

The SA Asian Golf Association (SAAGA) in Adelaide hold dinner at a local restaurant early this year and raised $1,306. The Canberra Gentlemen, friends and associates of our member Mr. Trần Tấn Tài in Canberra, contributed $1,190.  Dr. & Mrs. Trương Hổ Tuấn, in Sydney, through their sales the Entertainment Book, raised $238.

On top of these amounts were the repeat donations from many donors of previous years. Thanks to these efforts, and the generosities of many silent frequent benefactors, a total of $10,696 was raised.

Letter from one of the students


With some additional fund from our general pool, the amount raised enabled the recondition of 300 bicycles for distribution. In addition to distributing 200 recycled bicycles in Central Vietnam (Thừa Thiên, Quảng Trị and Quảng Ngãi provinces with the help of former scout leader Mr Trần Văn Hồng), this year Vietnam Foundation also worked with a volunteering group in Saigon named Hành Trình Yêu Thương (Journey of Love, or HTYT for short). HTYT reconditioned and distributed 100 bicycles to poor students in the delta region of southern Vietnam (Tiền Giang, An Giang, Đồng Tháp and Trà Vinh provinces). HTYT also contributed to the transport cost of shipping these bicycles to local schools for distribution.

The happy faces of school children who received these bicycles and their sincere thank you notes are our rewards. We would like to thank all donors who have brought smiles to many unfortunate children in rural Vietnam, at the same time giving them the opportunity to attend school from remote villages.

To encourage writing skill of local students and with the financial support of Professor Trần Nam Bình, Vietnam Foundation set up awards for best essays from recipients of these recycled bicycles. The rewards were announced in early February 2017. Please see our article on Essay Competition 2016.






Tô Hiệu Primary School at Đak Ngô Village, Tuy Đức District, Đak Nông Province was created out of Kim Đồng Primary School in early 2011. At the time, the newly created school had 400 students from Year 1 to Year 5 in 14 classes with 7 classrooms, of which

  • three were built by Vietnam Foundation in 2010
  • two were built by local government and
  • two were temporary, of timber construction, built by parents

In December 2012, Vietnam Foundation agreed to support the building of 2 new classrooms to replace the 2 temporary classrooms built by parents. The funding arrangement was:

  • Vietnam Foundation contributed 324 Million VN Dong (about AUD 15,000) toward the cost of classrooms construction
  • Parents and local people contributed ground preparation work (about VND 23 Million), and
  • Local authority gave exemption to all taxes.

Construction was completed and the new classrooms used since early 2013. The Official Opening Ceremony was on 17 December, 2015.

Some of the Vietnam Foundation delegates and school’s staff at the opening ceremony


Teachers and students at the school at the opening ceremony


On this occasion, a delegation consisting of 12 Vietnam Foundation members attended and raised VND 17 Million ($AU1,000) to provide 25 scholarships to the students of the school.

Students receiving scholarships


Students and two of the scholarship donors









The Mái Ấm Tình Thương (Love Shelter) orphanage is in Lagi, Bình Thuận province. It is operated by the sisters of the Mến Thánh Giá (Lovers of the Holy Cross) church in Nha Trang. Since 2005 it has been carrying out many “pro-life” programs, which include counseling and helping unmarried pregnant mothers to avoid abortion, giving them shelter in the orphanage, bringing up orphans, as well as caring for the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the people affected by Agent Orange in the area.

wMATTChildrenNStaffThrough their work, hundreds of babies have been saved from abortion; nearly 60 abandoned children have been reunited with their mothers. Every day it provides hot water and soups for about 150 poor patients seeking medical treatment at the nearby Lagi hospital.

As at the beginning of 2013 the orphanage houses 93 orphans aged between new-born and 8-years old and is run by 10 sisters, 18 assistants and many volunteers.

wMATTYoungKidsDue to the increasing demand for the services from the locals, the existing facilities become inadequate. There are not enough rooms for the growing up orphans to sleep in, to play and to learn.

The orphanage planned to construct a new, additional building which can accommodate 150 orphans (from 2-days old to grown-up) and has enough space to provide adequate facilities in support of up to 300 disabled persons who come monthly for food and medicines.

wMATTNewBuildingIn September 2013, two sisters from the orphanage, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai (director) and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Trang visited Australia, touring many cities to seek support for the construction of their second building.

When in Sydney, through a fundraising dinner on 6 September 2013, wMATTDinner Vietnam Foundation contributed $11,677.70 toward the construction project.

Construction has been started and is due to complete by the end of 2014.wMATTConstruction2 wMTTConstruction1

Trà Thọ high school is located in Tây Trà district, Quảng Ngãi province, about 100 km from the Quảng Ngãi town centre. Many students of the school live in isolated, mountainous villages which are tens of kilometres away from the school. The routes to school, if not walking tracks crossing secluded, steep woody hills and deep, perilous streams, are country roads in very bad repair, often ravaged or blocked off by erosion and landslides during wet seasons. Many children have to walk many hours to and back from school every day.


Of the 130 students of the school, more than half live so far away that during school weekdays they stay back at the school and then go home during the weekends. The school does not have enough classrooms let alone proper accommodation for the children. Whatever facilities the school has, they are very basic and in poor condition. Therefore the places that these children stay in are just temporary makeshift shelters built on the school ground by their parents.

wTraThoShelter1 wTraThoShelter2

Many children have to live many years in these cramped, ramshackle conditions, boys and girls in the same village together in the same shelter; their beds are also their desks, places of study and storages for clothing. Because the roofs do not provide proper cover from the elements, on raining nights, the children have to take refuge in their classrooms to avoid getting wet.


In addition to this appalling living condition, the children also have very limited and non-nutritious food provisions. Their diet consists mainly of rice, salt and bush vegetables. They have to cook their own meals after lessons. Very often they have to forage for firewood and extra food in the nearby woodlands.

wTraThoCookingwTraThoDinnerOne of the local charity groups, Hành Trình Yêu Thương, has been helping these children to improve their livelihood by supplying them with supplementary dried food, young chicks to raise for eggs and meat as well as plant seeds for a vegetable garden.

In November 2013 the Foundation contributed $400 to the Hành Trình Yêu Thương’s program to acquire 100 chicks, seeds and fertiliser for the children’s chicken farm and vegetable garden. The chicks have become full grown chicken and are producing eggs. Thanks to these eggs and chicken meat the children’s diet has become somewhat more tolerable. By looking after their chicken and vegetable, the children now have also opportunities to learn new and useful skills.


To read and see more photos about the living condition of these children:







* Except for the photo showing the road condition which was supplied by the Hành Trình Yêu Thương group, other photos are taken from the articles cited above

In many remote rural parts of Vietnam, children have to walk long distances to go to schools. Their families are so poor that they cannot afford even a bicycle for the children.

To help these children have easier access to schools, Vietnam Foundation funded a program whereby old or discarded bicycles were collected, recycled and then donated to the children.

The bicycle main frames were repainted if they were still solid and usable. Other components were replaced with locally made new parts.


In 2012, 62 such bicycles were recycled at the cost of VND 43 Million (AUD 2000).

They were handed over in September 2012 (beginning of the new school year) to school children in Thừa-Thiên Huế and the adjacent provinces of Quảng Trị and Đà Nẳng.

The children were selected based on their academic standing and the economic condition of their family.

In Thừa Thiên-Huế:

  • Hương Long Primary school: 7 bicycles
  • Quảng An Primary School: 8 bicycles
  • Hương Hồ High School: 7 bicycles
  • Hương Thủy High School: 7 bicycle
  • Education Association (Hội Khuyến Học) of Đông Xuyên: 7 bicycles
  • Student Trần văn An (Bình Điền Primary School): 1 bicycle
  • Student Tôn Thất Lập (Hương An Primary School): 1 bicycle
  • Student Nguyễn thị Thúy Hằng (Hương An High School): 1 bicycle
  • Student Nguyễn thi Ngân (Dương Hòa High School): 1 bicycle
  • Student Nguyễn thị Thứ (Huế University of Sciences): 1 bicycle
  • Student Nguyễn thị Giàu (Huế College of Advanced Education):1 bicycle

In Quảng Trị Students in Trí Bửu village: 10 bicycles

In Đà Nẵng: Phước Tường Diocese: 10 bicycles

wHuongHo wQuangAn wPhuocTuong wNguyenTruongTo

Thanks to further funds donated by our members and supporters, in 2013, we financed a second batch of 185 bicycles at the cost of VND 130 M (about 6000 AUD).

Most of these bicycles have been distributed to students in Huế, Quảng Trị and Quảng Ngãi provinces in August and September 2013.

As in the previous year, some of the scouts groups in these locations helped us with the selection of students and the distribution of the bicycles.

In Huế and Quảng Trị:

  • 3 Primary and 2 High schools in Kim Long, Hue: 50 bicycles
  • Quảng An Primary School: 10 bicycles
  • Quảng An High School: 10 bicycles
  • Hương Hồ High School: 10 bicycles
  • Hương Thủy High School: 10 bicycles
  • Education Association (Hội Khuyến Học) of Đông Xuyên: 9 bicycles
  • Students, who are also novice monks at Linh Mụ Pagoda: 10 bicycles
  • Orphans at Đức Sơn Orphange: 10 bicycles
  • Distributed by 4 scouts groups in Huế: 40 bicycles

In Quảng Ngãi: 2 schools: 30 bicycles

w6students wStudentsInField





The Mekong delta is a flat, low-lying area, with a network of innumerable crisscrossing river tributaries and canals.


As bridges are few and far between, many of the local residents, even with their ubiquitous motor cycles, have to travel long distances before being able to go to the other side of the river. Many still rely on ferries and small boats as means of transport. To cross small waterways the local people build tens of thousands of ‘monkey bridges’ which are flimsy structures normally made up of scrap timber and bamboo poles. They can only support light foot traffic. They are also the cause of frequent death by drowning as people, especially young children and frail elderly, can easily fall into the water when they use these bridges.



To help improve transport and provide safety for these people, Vietnam Foundation helped build a 42m long x 2m wide concrete bridge at Hòa Thạnh hamlet, Thạnh Quới village, Long Hồ district, Vĩnh Long province.

wHoaThanhPlaqueThe bridge was designed by staff and students at Mekong University. We contributed VND 215 M (about 10 000 AUD) toward the total cost of VND 417M. Mekong University and the local population contributed the remaining cost. The bridge was opened for traffic on 9 July 2013.

wHoaThanhOpeningOur representative in Vietnam, Prof Nguyễn Thiện Tống joined staff of Mekong University and local people in the inauguration walk.