Volunteer for ethnic minority youth in sapa

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The Sapa district is very close to the border with China. The Hoang Lien Son range of mountains dominates the district, which is at the eastern extremity of the Himalayas. This range includes Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan Mountain at 3,142m above sea level, and a vast area covered by thick forest, which is very rich in wildlife. The township of Sapa lies on a hill station at the attitude of about 1,600m and was built by the French into a famous summer resort with some one hundred colonial villas which was well-known as “ Tonkin’s Alps”. The complicated terrain of Sapa including the steeped high mountains with sharp cuts and large valleys, many streams of water in combination with sloped terraced paddies form magnificent scenery.

Sapa is also an ideal environment for a great diversity of ethnic minority people. For nearly two decades in an attempt to turn Sapa into one of the country’s premier tourist destination, the local ethnic people have experienced great changes, many of them negative, like ethnic minority children who left school to work for the tourist dollar from an early age, initially selling crafts to tourists or trying to become a tour guide. It is difficult life for these children without an education. An informal educational centre has now been set up by VFCD to help them improve their current situation and hopes for the future through learning how to read and write in Vietnamese and English. They also learn Math, Art, and other life skills such as how to make handicrafts, or other ways to support themselves.
At the moment VFCD hosting a center for community studying in Sapa town, our students are minority youth from Sapa and the surrounding villages. Some of them already work as tour guides; others make a living through selling handicrafts in the streets of Sapa. Most of the students have very little schooling, and some do not know how to read and write. It is crucial for their future that they learn these skills. All the students have expressed their happiness and gratitude for the opportunity to learn from the centre
Currently, both Vietnamese and international volunteers teach oral and written Vietnamese and English. Classes take place every afternoon and evening. We feel that it is very important for local youth to know these languages, being crucial for them to make the most of limited job opportunities in Sapa. It is our hope that this program will help the local youth to adapt to a more confident and healthy lifestyle and that they will make better use of the opportunities available to them.

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