Almost 20 years ago my father founded Children of Vietnam. He fell in love with the children that were in need in that country after working there for several years. I have traveled to the country twice and have participated in numerous fundraisers for the organization. I feel strongly about doing this because I feel smaller charities need our support. They spend much less money from donors on administrative costs that the vast majority of larger charities. For years my father hand wrote thank you notes to anyone that donated, whether it was $10 or $10,000. He, as well as Huong Luong, the Country Director in Vietnam, and many other volunteers have poured theirs hearts into this charity. For that reason, I am determined to do what I can to help it thrive in the future. If you are reading this as a potential donor, please make the decision to support this group. You will not find a more dedicated charity anywhere. Elliott WIlson
I last wrote about COV on the Great Nonprofits website two years ago. Since that time I again had the opportunity to observe COV operations in Vietnam, and I have continued to work with the board of directors in an advisory capacity on a regular basis. Every positive thing I said about COV in that first posting remains accurate to this day. COV continues to remain true to its mission, operating with absolute integrity and total transparency. They provide benefactors an opportunity to contribute with complete confidence that their precious donations are handled responsibly, used for their intended purpose, and really make a difference in the lives of needy and disabled Vietnamese children and their families.
As a member of the board of directors, I again had the privilege this summer to visit COV operations in Vietnam and participate in several field trips. I came away with two primary impressions. First, COV has "heart". It starts with the founder, Ben Wilson, and the Country Director Luong Thi Huong, and flows down through the staff. Their deep compassion for those in need permeates and drives the organization. Theirs is a labor of love fueled by the desire to enable those they assist to acquire a better quality of life. And Second, COV practices the highest principles of charitable assistance: they enable the downtrodden to help themselves improve their quality of life, while maintaining their dignity throughout the process.
I was especially impressed with how, in their daily operations, they verify need to an established norm and then leverage their resources by acquiring the involvement and assistance of local officials and the surrounding community.
I left Vietnam with the positive feeling that COV is exercising truly good stewardship over the precious resources of our donors and benefactors in the way it carries out the charitable objectives of the organization. I can state unequivocally that COV is indeed bringing hope to the hopeless and improving the lives of so many needy Vietnamese children and their families.
Where to begin. I became acquainted with Children of Vietnam in 2003 and my love for the organization and its mission grabbed me from the beginning. My late husband had served in DaNang and had always wanted to return. Through Children of Vietnam, I was able to fulfill his dream and his passion for its children. I have had the opportunity to visit Vietnam on four different occasions with COV, both as a volunteer and member of the COV Board of Directors. In working with the COV staff in Vietnam, I saw, first-hand, that each program is carefully developed and administered. Each child and family is treated with respect and dignity; every dollar/dong is spent carefully. My fondest memories were meeting with university students - hearing their life stories and dreams. I have been able to provide university scholarships for 2 young ladies and correspond with them on a regular basis. There is no better way to bridge the miles that divide us and truly make the world a family.
When I joined the Children of Vietnam Board, I had never been to Vietnam and only read of the work done by this amazing organization. I have since traveled to DaNang 4 times. Visiting the Street Children program and working with the staff was one of the most heart warming an inspiring experiences of my life. The staff works directly with each child and family. Each penny and dollar is maximized to assist those in need. I have experienced children receiving scholarships, bicycles and homes. Tears of gratitude tell the story. Come and join us. It will change your life.
COV is a great non-profit organization. I traveled to Vietnam on 3 occasions to see their work first hand before becoming a member of the Board of Directors. I continue to be amazed at the low administrative costs and the efforts to maximize every dollar donated to the benefit of the children we are helping. I can also attest to the hard work of our board members who cheerfully donate of their time, talents, and their own money to further our work. We have tremendous staff in Vietnam and an excellent Executive Director in the USA who is passionate about our work and loves the people of Vietnam. I can whole heartedly recommend this organization to anyone longing to help make a difference in the world. Your donations have a direct and substantial impact on the children we serve and the community in which they live. Thank you for your support!
I have been involved with COV for almost 10 years now. It has been an honor to work with such fine people and play a very small roll in this groups success. No were can you get more bang for your buck than COV. Thank you Ben/Huong/Nancy, Staff and board.
The COV Staff, founder, ED and Board are the finest people I have ever know. They have a heart for these children and are also the best possiable stewards of the funds they manage. The children that COV serves are so very greatful and are wise beyond thier years as to making the most of the opportunities they have been given. It is a joy a pleasure and an honor to work with these fine people and children.
I had the privilege of visiting Children of Vietnam's (COV)programs on the ground this year. I saw first-hand the orphans who benefit form one of the tutoring programs. The orphanage director told me that grades had improved now that all 50 children at the orphanage participate in tutoring. I was also able to meet a teen-ager who is hoping that tutoring will help with her education. This young lady had just returned from a COV tutoring session when I arrived, and she hopes to use her writing talents to become a journalist. I left this visit with a better understanding of how COV provides direct aid to very vulnerable children.
Children of Vietnam is a small charity with a focused mission. This means it can move quickly and efficiently to address local needs. In 2007 my husband and I decided to build a kindergarten with COV. We donated the money in the summer, the site was selected by September, the kindergarten was built by December, children started school in January and we were able to visit in March. When we returned several years later the same teachers were there, the building was in good condition, and the children were engaged.
I have volunteered with Children of Vietnam for the past four years and could not be more complimentary of the organization. I have had the opportunity to visit the COV operations in Vietnam on two occasions and was so unbelievably impressed with the how dedicated the Vietnamese staff was to COV's mission to improve the lives of impoverished children and families. COV is a transparent organization that makes decisions for all the right reasons. I have had the pleasure of seeing the life-changing effects of COV's programming and I can say with complete confidence that Children of Vietnam is exactly the type of cause you should support.
My experience as a former member of COV's Board of Directors is among those that mean the most to me. At every board meeting, we carefully balanced possibilities, commitments, new initiatives--always keeping in mind the Ben Wilson's question, "What's best for the children?" Every US expenditure was evaluated against our responsibility to donors and children to use our resources wisely. This is an organization with focus, commitment, and the highest ethical standards.
I first witnessed the incredible work of Children of Vietnam (COV) in the fall of 2010, when I had the opportunity to travel with the administrators of the its various programs to the sites of its beneficiaries. I saw orphanages that had benefited from nutritional assistance and structural upgrades, kindergartens that had been built in remote regions, families who had benefited from housing and sanitation upgrades to their homes, children who had recieved assistance with their education in the form of scholarships and bicycle transportation, and children who had received critical medical assistance provided within and without Vietnam. In addition, I met young people who had received a college education by virtue of COV's education initiative. Of all COV's amazing programs, the one that impresses me most is the Empowering Foundations for Women and Their Children. This is a program that provides microloans for single mothers to start a business to support their families while providing housing assistance along with education and medical assistance for the children.
In Sept., 2010, before joining the Board, I travelled to Danang and witnessed Children of Vietnam's magnificent work. I visited the of homes impoverished families, orphanages, schools, and hospitals who have worked with Children of Vietnam (COV) to improve the lives of homeless, poor, and disabled children. COV'sgoal is to provide meaningful, sustainable assistance that empowers children and their parents to grow to their potential and hopefully escape their dire conditions of poverty. Categories of assistance include providing medical treatment (ranging from heart surgeries to treatment for parasites), increased opportinities for education (ranging from building kindergarens, to supplying bicycles for rural children to get to school, to tutoring, to college scholarships), nutritional support (such as food and vitaming supplements for orphanages or livestock for needy families), and improved living conditions for needy children (by building modest new homes or making repairs to existing structures).
In addition, Children of Vietnam has a microfinancing program that allows struggling mothers to start a small, sustainable business to support her child (ren).
As I observed Children of Vietnam implement each of its incredible programs, I was amazed by the very personal attention that each family, school, and orphanage receives in assessing need, delivering services, and monitoring progress. They are very careful in allocating funds and ensuring that they are used in the most efficient and effective way possible. Only 8% of their funds go to overhead - 92% go to the beneficiaries.
Another extraordinary feature of Children of Vietnam is its working relationship with the regional government and its goal of creating with the government a framework for wrap-around services (health, education, nutrition, and housing) for the families of needy and disabled children. Through COV's " Hope System of Care," local government, health care, and community members are enlisted to evaluate, serve, and monitor the needs of beneficiaries, essentially setting up a system of care that can be sustained by the government in 1-2 year's time without the help of COV. The local government officials have been so impressed and pleased that they have expressed the desire to implement the program in other districts of central Vietnam.
After my Sept. visit to Danang, where I saw first hand the truly meaningful work COV is accomplishing and the efficiency and the integrity with which they go about it, I felt honored to join the Board in November. In my opinion, this is a model nonprofit organization.
Empowering Foundations for Women and their Children is an exciting, highly successful and relatively new initiative of Children of Vietnam providing micro finance loans to single mothers who are head of households and live below the poverty level in central Vietnam. Within a few short years, hope and a bright future awaits families in this program. Besides loans to become self-suffienct in a small business, counseling, access to health care, home repair and schooling for children are additional components included in the wrap around services of this project.
Never have I seen a more dedicated and motivated organization providing assistance to children with disabilities and orphan and street children ! This attitude is reflected from the newest staff person to the experienced Board of Directors. The work accomplished in disciplines of health care, nutrition,education and housing could not be provided at lower cost. EVERY dollar is spent with efficiency and at the best value allowing much more to be completed than normally possible.
I have had the privilege of traveling to Vietnam on 3 separate occasions to see the work of Children of Vietnam first-hand. The enormity and diversity of the needs there are staggering and could easily lead an individual or an organization to be overwhelmed to the point of inaction. However, Children of Vietnam has done an excellent job of identifying a variety of ways to help (Housing, Nutrition, Education, vaccination, etc) and developing key relationships with government officials in order to streamline their efforts. What is accomplished with very little overhead or administrative costs is admirable and gives me great confidence that the monies I am able to contribute are being used in the most efficient ways possible to make a difference in the lives of wonderful people who desperately need assistance.