The Niteco Charity Engagement Foundation (NICEF), the charity founded by renowned development company Niteco, recently sponsored the construction of a brand-new playground on the grounds of a school in rural Vietnam as well as donations of bicycles and books for the school’s students.
The school building, located in the mountains of the rural Vietnamese province Thanh Hoa, about 150km from the capital of Hanoi, houses both a primary and a junior high school. In total, 17 teachers teach 110 students in the building surrounded by meadows and rice fields. Neither the school nor the settlements surrounding it are connected to the electrical grid. The only source of power are a handful of solar panels on some of the area’s houses.
Activities for the schoolchildren’s recess periods were few and far between. A playground had been under planning for a while, but funding to actually construct it couldn’t be obtained.
NICEF, along with charity organization “Lan Banh Uoc Mo” (Dream Wheel), decided to raise the necessary funds to brighten up the lives of the pupils. NICEF alone raised almost VND60 million (USD2,500) for this cause. A team of volunteers made up of 17 Niteco employees traveled to the village on a weekend in early April to build the playground on an open area on the school grounds.
The volunteers, some of whom brought spouses and children along, spent Saturday clearing the intended area and building a jungle gym, a swing set, a zipline, a seesaw as well as various other playground equipment. The pupils observed and even helped out the workers and eagerly tried out their new playground once it was finished.
“They were so happy,” said Anh Phan, one of Niteco’s volunteers. “Some of the children told me they would go home for dinner, but then return to school to play there again. Some of them even wanted to go to school on Sunday just so they could play on their new and colorful playground.”
“It was an incredibly meaningful experience for us,” said Huyen Truong, another Niteco volunteer. “Going to these efforts to make these children happy was tremendously rewarding. It was also humbling for us, with most of us from the big city with all its facilities, to meet these children that walk and ride bikes to and from school for hours each day to get the knowledge they need to improve their lives and their families’ lives.”
Along with the construction of the playground, NICEF also donated books for the pupils as well as 15 brand-new bicycles. “It’s the only school in a rather large district, so many children have to walk long distances to get to school,” said Niteco COO Peter Hu Andersen, who also volunteered. “And while they still make sure to get to school even so, these bikes will make the lives of some of these children and their families a bit easier. The children received them on the basis of the school’s assessment of who needed them the most, so they were really appreciated and definitely made a difference.”
The Niteco Charity Engagement Fund (NICEF) is a Niteco employee-run initiative that aims to improve the lives of Vietnam’s most vulnerable. Since its inception, NICEF has raised a phenomenal USD75,000 and helped more than 500 children in their time of desperate need. This includes the provision of funds for children with cleft palates to have surgery, building a school and providing educational resources, as well as funding heart operations for children.