Helping Hand Helping Hearts, For Women and Children in Vietnam
Many of the 180 babies who have been cared for at the Tan Phu Women’s Shelter on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City may not be alive today, had their mothers not been given assistance during their pregnancies.
In Vietnam’s conservative culture, premarital sex is considered taboo. Women who become pregnant out of wedlock face strong social and familial repercussions and as a result, many unmarried women choose to seek abortions at private clinics.
A staggering 40% of all pregnancies in Vietnam are terminated each year, one of the highest rates worldwide. Many of the women believe having an abortion is unethical, but justifiable in the case of being young and unmarried.
MWIA understands the importance of providing shelter and loving care to unmarried, pregnant women and is proud of the support it has provided to the Tan Phu Women’s Shelter since 2011.
The shelter is run by Pham Thi Thuy who is selfless in the care she gives to these women and children, and assisted by Loreto Sister Thao, an equally remarkable woman. Together they support the women in the final stages of their pregnancy and into the first six months as new mothers.
MWIA is able to support this shelter due to its generous donors such as the Helping Hand Helping Hearts Foundation (HHHH). Funds raised will not only cover the nutritional costs but also fund ongoing medical expenses, provide hygiene and nutritional education and, where possible, offer opportunities to learn new skills.
HHHH has been supporting the shelter since 2013, after co-founder Sue McGregor read to her class ‘The Little Refugee’ by Anh Doh and learnt about the work of the Loreto Sisters in Vietnam as the proceeds from the book went towards Loreto projects there.
“After finding out more about the work of the shelter we felt very strongly that it fits perfectly with our mission at HHHH to support the health and educational outcomes of those who most need a helping hand,” said Sue.
Co-founders, Sue and Jenny Lloyd passionately believe that “you couldn’t be helping more vulnerable people than pregnant single women and their newborn babies”.
“The shelter provides the women and their children a chance of breaking the cycle of poverty. We constantly see, first-hand, the impact of poverty on the health and educational needs of children and their families and we saw the shelter as providing these young women with hope and the chance to escape a life of poverty.”
Sue and Jenny beam with love as they talk about the children and women they are helping at the shelter and excitedly share photos of the young ones they genuinely cherish in their hearts. “Most people are not in a position to provide hands on support to those in need but by working together to raise funds, everyone has the opportunity to become involved. It is our dream to make a difference, however big or small, to those who are suffering.”
Sue’s commitment to helping those in need in Vietnam came about after her husband tragically passed away from a heart attack in 2006. It has been part of her personal mission to help those with a similar medical condition by covering the costs of their heart surgery. So far HHHH has paid for 96 heart surgeries for children and Sue says excitedly they are looking forward to reaching the 100 milestone next year.
Asked about the lessons learnt through her charity work, Sue warmly replied “I think one of the most important lessons we have learnt is that the Vietnamese people make the most of what little they have and our money can have a huge impact over there. They show such strength, courage and determination and we always leave Vietnam inspired to continue raising funds to support the projects.”
We wish the HHHH team all the best in reaching their milestone. We warmly and sincerely say thank you to all our supporters, including Loreto Normanhurst in Sydney who recently raised $10,000 for the shelter during their Feast Day. Without your support running these invaluable projects wouldn’t be possible.
Together we can shine some light and bring hope to the women who have faced many challenges on their journey to motherhood.
Words: Communications Manager, Elouise Hahn