About the project
After witnessing the conditions of the educational facilities (or lack thereof), experiencing the cycle of poverty and hopelessness that the children of rural Vietnam face, and acknowledging the fact that without help, thousands of children will fall into lives of crime, abuse, and human trafficking, the founders of Sunflower Mission felt they had to take substantial action. Sunflower Mission was formed for the sole purpose of providing opportunities for these children. By providing the means to a basic education, the doors are open for them to have a dignified and productive future.
Since its founding in 2002, Sunflower Mission with Mona’s help has built 158 classrooms and funded over 14,000 scholarships for children in remote areas of Vietnam. To date, 400 of their scholarship students have graduated from college.
How we help
Mona Foundation directly works with SunFlower Mission, a non profit with extensive experience, and strong presence in Vietnam, to provide access to K-12 education for thousands of marginalized students in remote villages of Vietnam. By building schools, and providing scholarships,14,000 K-12 students have so far been supported, 400 of whom have also received scholarships and completed their college education.
To ensure that K-12 scholarships are received and directly benefit the students, the SunFlower mission staff in Vietnam travel to each school located in very remote areas, often enduring incredible hardship in order to minimize expenses and maximize the dollars, to personally deliver the scholarships to the students.
Sunflower Mission efficiently builds new classroom in rural areas at the cost of approximately $8,500 per classroom. They also build and maintain relationships with in-country contractors who do the building, and teachers, administrators and the local community who carry on the educational activities there. Because of Sunflower’s familiarity with the country and their hands-on involvement, they have ensured quality construction and completed every project they’ve started on time and within budget. Local communities are also involved through such efforts as providing furniture and fencing or helping with the maintenance of the schools. Well-maintained schools promote learning, encourage attendance and instill pride in the community. And with education, rural children have an opportunity to develop their skills and look forward to a better future.
The Vietnamese government is moving towards requiring students to attending full day classes (vs .half day classes in the morning and half day in the afternoon). In the past, Sunflower Mission typically built schools with 2-4 classrooms which could each accommodate two grades per day. Now, however, each classroom built can only be used for one grade during the day. As a result, Sunflower needs to build each new school with more classrooms. In the next decade, they will shift toward building 4-6 classroom schools and eventually 6-8 classroom schools.
One of our student from the US side was strongly encouraged by his parents to go on a workcamp when he was in 6th grade. The experience was so transforming that after his first trip he volunteered to go 5 more times. He now has graduated and is attending college at Texas A&M, and recently represented all 50 Youth groups who attended the 15thanniversary gala to speak about his experience with SM and how it has changed his life not only as a leader but also as a human being.
“After years of involvement with SunFlower Mission, I am quite pleasantly surprised with what I had discovered. This organization at its base is a family. It has taught me humility, compassion, and most importantly true happiness. It is true when someone says ‘happiness is meant to be shared,’ because being part of SunFlower Mission and what it stands for has taught me that when you make someone else happy, you will be happy too!”.
These stories are told by someone who reguarly visits the schools and the students we support in Vietnam:
- I met one that has attended one of SunFlower (SM) schools since 2nd grade and now 1 semester away from graduating college. She shared how education has completely altered the trajectory of her life and her desire to graduate and give back
- A scholarship recipient spoke words of gratitude at the SM Engineering & Technology scholarship recipients and shared how SM has impacted him: confidence, knowledge, inspiration. He was so shy and scared but over the years, he grew with the nurturing and love we provided in addition to funds. He entered into a public speaking contest in Singapore and won first prize. No Vietnamese has ever won this prize. He felt so much pride and gained so much confidence.
- A former scholarship recipient graduating in 2016 was employed by Intel. She was just named Intel employee of the year (among 17 out of 1000 employees)! She of course is now part of SM’s leadership team in Vietnam.
Every year, volunteers representing Sunflower Mission travel to Vietnam to help complete a school in progress, teach workshops for local students and families, and present scholarships and gifts. Below is a story from a volunteer named Tiffany Ma from the United States. Pictures from the work camp can be seen in the gallery above.
“We are coming to the end of the work camp in Dalat. So much effort, laughter, and generosity have been poured into the school. Before boarding the plane in America, my expectations were very basic. My sister spoke highly of Sunflower Mission and her work camp experience. However, I still couldn’t imagine what was to come. Every person and experience has enhanced my standard for Sunflower Mission. Without a doubt, I am coming back. The amount of planning behind the scenes and patience the leadership team has been remarkable. They were and are on top of everything. I knew no one on this trip, but that didn’t stop anyone from becoming a friendly face and a helping hand. Loud, infectious laughter has infiltrated the many bus rides and group meals. The children at the school site have done nothing but make my heart smile, and want to relocate to Dalat! They stare out of curiosity then play with joy. Even though there is a language barrier for me, it didn’t stop our playtime or teaching each other how to say dog, rabbit, and eight in both languages with the help of hand signals. The kids remind me how much I love teaching and now I want to be back in the classroom setting. The massive impact this school will have on the students is beyond moving and imaginable. My employer has asked me four times if I was coming back to work. I just might say no. This trip has reignited a fire inside.”
Completed building a model school with 5 grades, serving 130 students
2020 Project Goals
Build Tra Khe Elementary School in Thon Son village for 180 students
School to have:
- student dormitory
- 5 classrooms
- boys and girls bathroom with hand-washing stations
- a library and computer room (computers to be added in 2021)
- teacher dormitory