There was big excitement in Da Nang last weekend
as OneSky’s Vietnam staff, representatives from our global staff, and several members of our board readied the new OneSky Early Learning Center to welcome VIP guests for its official opening ceremony.
From our OneSky Vietnam Program Director, Hien Vo:
“It was a great day today! Early in the morning, we greeted dozens of government officials, representatives from the local community, and, of course, our parents and children.
“Everyone was so excited to see this wonderful place to provide early learning and care for vulnerable young children of the poor factory workers. Our staff, full of smiles in their new uniforms, welcomed the children to play in the beautiful rooms. The new teachers, and all of us, understand clearly that our assignment is not only to care for 250 kids in the Center but also to establish a successful model that can be scaled to serve more and more vulnerable children across the entire country. Even the national news media came to witness the big event!”
While the official speeches celebrated our mutual achievement and promise for the future, the children, who have no doubt to whom this beautiful center truly belongs, wriggled out of their parents’ arms to romp up and down the aisles.
US Consul General, Mary Tarkowna remarked on the importance of this Vietnam-U.S. partnership: “I am confident that this pilot program can serve as a model to care for and educate the 1.2 million children whose parents work in Vietnam’s 300 industrial parks. And when that happens, the economic impact will be significant. Female participation in the labor market will increase, helping to create more educational opportunities for young girls, increase the presence of women in higher levels of management, boost incomes of families and raise living standards.”
Director General Nguyen Minh, responsible for early education nationwide, told us he’d be pleased if our OneSky training team could soon train the entire country. That was music to our ears, for OneSky is first and foremost a training organization. We create models to help governments and communities envision a way forward, but it’s always a relief when our partners acknowledge that training, not building construction or room renovation, is our primary value. Making beautiful child-friendly spaces together is certainly part of building a partnership. But just the first part!
Just as in China, we have a long, long way to go in Vietnam. And many more children in all sorts of tough circumstances to reach. Our work has just begun.
As our OneSky Board Chair, Guy Russo, said, “So today let’s celebrate here in Da Nang and let’s also continue to dream big for the children because this Early Learning Center on a spot that last year was an empty field is proof positive that when we learn from each other, when we work hard and when we receive such strong support from government and the community, our dreams for the children will always come true.”
Speaking for myself, it is beyond wonderful after almost 20 years to see our OneSky family continue to evolve and grow. Back in 1998, I certainly didn’t have the vision to imagine that we could come so far, helping millions of children as we go.
Hien sent us a note: “On behalf of the Vietnam team, I would like to express our deep thanks to you for your dedication, love, care and full support during these days. You all make us feel warm, cared for, encouraged and safe. We only now realize from the heart that we are becoming part of a very big family named “OneSky for all children” where every single person really cares and works for the others. We are so happy to be with you!”
And Janice Cotton, who leads our OneSky programs, said, “I found myself getting teary eyed as I watched the officials, the children, and the teachers all singing together “We are the World.” Hearing their words I saw it all come together. All the days and nights our amazing team labored late into the night to finish important work, the physically demanding work the teachers and training team did in extremely hot weather, and the belief we all have in the great potential of the future brought a deep sense of satisfaction and excitement.
“There is a ‘magic’ that follows us around and it happens because every one of us is committed to the same vision for the children.”
With love and gratitude,