From each according to her capacity

Distributing toques to young children at the Can Cau Market – Lao Cai

When people hear of “charity”, more than often they think of rich people giving away some money in big or small amounts.  While this is certainly true in many cases, this connection between monetary donation and kind hearts is not the only way the Rice Scholarship Program’s donors have been contributing to the common goal of supporting poor students. One such creative donation is the woolen hats hand-knitted by two sisters in Canada, Gayle Burley and Sandy Ternoway.

Mrs. Burley visited Vietnam for the first time in 2007, when her son was serving his postat the Canadian Embassy in Vietnam. She learned that winters in northern Vietnam can be cold, and that babies and children needed some warmth against the winter elements.  In Canada, every child has a woolen hat, and so after returning to her home, Mrs. Burley determined that she would knit hats and send them to Vietnam so the children might be a little warmer during the severely cold and difficult wintertime.  On a subsequent visit to Vietnam, she visited Lao Caiprovince and witnessed firsthand the difficult living conditions of the children in the Northern mountainous region.

 A student in Lao Cai wearing his new gift

Mrs. Burley’s sister, Mrs. Sandy Ternoway, who is a professional seamstress, joined her in this endeavour. Together they have spent hours and hours knitting small hats of various styles and colours for the children of northern Vietnam. Both the two sisters are grandmothers, so they know how important it is for young children to keep their heads warm and sheltered from the wind. Over the past few years, Mrs. Burley and Mrs. Ternoway have contributed over 500 hats to the Rice Scholarship Program and these items were distributed in disbursement trips to Lao Cai and Dien Bien in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The kids and their families were very excited to receive these gifts from a distant country they may not haveeven heard of.  Warmth not only comes from woolen hats, but also from kind hearts of the two “bà” (grandmothers) sent to them.

This year they have been knitting again, doing what they are best at, to share the hardship of children they have never met. “I wish to visit Vietnam in a near future so I could give the hats to the children myself” – Mrs. Ternoway shared.  Her own daughter has visited Vietnam several times to help with development assistance projects.  And Mrs. Burley hopes, as always, that her hats will help keep the children warm and healthy despite the cold weather. Their sincere and consistent efforts speak for what the Rice Scholarship Program treasures at heart, namely, everyone can help poor children in mountainous areas, as long as they care.
Bà Gayle Burley


Mrs. Gayle Burley


Mrs. Sandy Ternoway

More pictures of students receiving woolen toques can be viewed here

Rice Scholarship in Vietnam

The Rice Scholarship Program is a charity program aiming to assist disadvantaged students, particularly those from ethnic minority groups, in remote and mountainous areas, to continue their education. The program was initiated in 2005. Individual donors contribute money, time and effort to raise fund, establish relations with local partners, coordinate and manage the program on a voluntary basis. Contact us here

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