Give scholarship to Cam Van Minh

Cháu Minh nhận quà của HBG.

 Minh receiving his Rice Scholarship. His face is blurred to protect his identity and prevent potential discrimination

Dien Bien province has the greatest rate of people living with HIV in Vietnam (1). Among these, many are men who were drug addicts and contracted HIV virus through using the same syringes, thereafter infected their wives and children as well. Consequently  lenient women and innocent children suddenly had to bear a hovering death penalty along with terrible discrimination and stigma. Hoa Huong Duong (Sunflower) group is a self-help network of people living with HIV, founded to support women and children who contracted HIV from their husbands and fathers (2). In Dien Bien, the group also helps children who have lost both their mother and father. For several years, with the Dien Bien’s Provincial Women’s Union’ generous support, the Rice Scholarship Program has always given special attention to the children belonging to this category; even though sometimes it really hurts as we meet these students to award them scholarships but cannot know for sure whether next year they will still be as healthy(3).

Ms. Nong Thi Thinh – a devoted staff of the Dien Bien Provincial Women’s Union – sent the Rice Scholarship Program her descriptions and photos taken in a trip to Cam Van Minh’s house to give him his scholarship. He is a member of the Sunflower group. Below we would like to share her words.

On March 27th, in the afternoon, the three of us drove 15km of rough and muddy roads to Minh’s maternal grandparents (Noong Het commune – Dien Bien District). Fortunately, he had just arrived from his paternal grandmother’s house (Thanh Luong commune), because it was his father’s second death anniversary.

At the present, he is living with his maternal grandparents, his grandfather is 80 years old, and his grandmother is 65. They both look healthy, but few people could imagine that, two out of their nine children passed away, six are either drugs addicts or being away from home. Only the two elderly and Minh live in the house now.


Cháu Minh uống sữa các cô bác tặng

 Minh drinking a pack of milk in his gift


When we arrived, Minh greeted us very politely, but when we told him we came to give him the scholarship so he could study better, he didn’t let out a word. His grandmother said, he went to school but often hid away from his teacher, whether hid in the toilet, or climbed on the bookshelf. His face is bright, but he is quite stubborn, when we asked him to paint, he picked the crayons up to play, but refused to paint.


His aunt spilled the beans to us that he once asked her: “Why do I need to study because I already have AIDS?”  How miserable!

After almost 2 hours of talking and encouraging, he finally talked to us, telling us that he takes medicine regularly every morning at 7 a.m., evening at 7 p.m., and he wants to become a doctor in the future… He promised to go to school regularly, to listen to the teacher, and not to skip classes again.

You see, every time we meet a child, our hearts sink a bit more.

 Minh’s thank you letter sent to his donor


Nông Thị Thịnh

Dien Bien Provincial Women’s Union


(1): Out of the 10 provinces with the highest rate of people living with HIV, there are 8 provinces in the North and 2 provinces in the South. Of which, Dien Bien has the highest rate all over the country (980 out of 100.000 people)

This finding was published in the conference “Sharing information on the result of implementing the “Prevent HIV/AIDS in Vietnam” project funded by the World Bank. The conference took place in Hai Phong on December 27, 2012.


(2): More information about the Sunflower group in Dien Bien

(3): Read a post on students of the Sunflower group in Dien Bien receiving Rice Scholarships

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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