Our Shining Stars

Only about 1m20 tall, chi Sau (or “sister Sau,” as most of us dearly call her) is like the oldest sister of all the kids at the Go Vap Orphanage. She was born around 1974, and brought to the orphanage at the age of two. Her parents could have abandoned her after the War, or they could’ve passed away during the War. She doesn’t remember much from the past, but would prefer the latter scenario. Not being able to develop as an average kid, chi Sau struggled, and finally left school after finishing her fifth grade. 

However, despite all of the challenges, she always smiles. She carries generations of babies at the orphanage, like a big sister. She loves making the bracelets, necklaces, rings, and lucky charms at the Arts and Crafts class, and then teaching other kids how to make them.

She holds our hands very tight each time we visit her, as though to channel her strengths and her faith in life to us. “Sau wants to become a teacher, to take care of Hung, Duong, and all the kids here” – Chi Sau pointed at the kids sleeping soundly on their cages while asked what her dream is.   

This is Be on the left. Be works with the kids as a teacher and also on making arts and crafts. Like many other friends at Go Vap Orphanage, when asked, Be didn’t know of her real age. She was left at the nearby church when she was just a newborn. Her mothers at Go Vap gave her a birth certificate, and from then one, Be knows that she was born in 1984.

At the age of 18, she left Go Vap to study at Thu Duc Trade school, which is mostly dedicated to homeless children. She tried many jobs, as a tailor or an assistant chef, but at the end, she decided to return to Go Vap to become a care-taker for her own “siblings.” “Working outside is more comfortable, earnings are also better, but I like to come back to Go Vap. I want to help the kids who are also as disadvantaged as me. I want to make up for their loss of a real parent,” Be shared with us, almost bursting into tears, about her decision to return to Go Vap at the age of 25.  

Be’s dream is to become a certified teacher to be able to teach and take care of Go Vap children. She is now taking college classes part time, focusing on caretaking and teaching for children with special needs (e.g., slow learners, hydrocephalus victims)

Huy is now the oldest brother of all the kids at Go Vap Orphanage. Though we thought he was twelve years old when we first met him, he is in fact 30 years old. The caretakers at Go Vap recalled that they found Huy at the doorstep of the orphanage in 1983. He was born with a defective intestine that prevented him from properly digesting any food he took. An operation conducted with the help of a volunteer doctor saved him, yet left a big scar from his chest down. Although Huy only managed to finish second grade, he loves English and often boldly practices his limited vocabulary with our volunteers.

This video was taken more than 10 times, because he often cannot finish a full sentence, but we hope you can meet and greet him in person and help him improve his English if you have a chance to visit Ho Chi Minh City.  

Duong is one of the youngest in our Arts and Crafts class. He was born in 1997, and also dropped out of school after his third grade. However, he finds his love in our vocational classes. Duong is often caught smiling when he can finish a difficult product. Born with weak heart, Duong overcame his disease after a successful operation. His defective hand does not let him straighten his fingers, but it also cannot prevent him from assembling a dazzling piece of Ivylish jewelry, or embroidering a beautiful handkerchief. Duong hopes to be able to become a designer one day.