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Providing support and care in the community, education and social services since 1992

Our story


In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Cau Han – Ma Lang was a hotspot for crime and social issues in Ho Chi Minh City which sadly affected the local community and their quality of life in a number of ways. The HCWA founders noticed how the area was affecting children and adolescents, two of the most impressionable age groups, and so with the support from the People’s Committee of Tan Thuan Tay Ward, the Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association (HCWA) was founded in June 1997. The Cau Han Community Development Project was formed shortly afterwards in partnership with the Terre des Hommes Organization and is located at 45/6 Bis Tran Xuan, District 7 under the management of the Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association (HCWA).

The Cau Han’s model aims to intervene and support disadvantaged children and adolescents from the local community who are homeless, impoverished or are members of disadvantaged communities in the area (i.e. HIV affected communities). Most beneficiaries are between 6 and 20 years old, and are domestic migrants who have come to Ho Chi Minh City with their families in search of a better life. The project, working alongside the People’s Committee, has transformed the Cau Han – Ma Lang area over the past 30 years.

To combat the vast number of children who were being financially exploited in the illegal child labor industry, the Cau Han began our free charity classes for children in 2000 which have been successfully running since then forup to 50 students at a time. Adolescents are provided with opportunities for work-based training and apprenticeships.

Our children face difficult living situations, living in temporary and unstable accommodation with parents who do freelance and unstable work. Furthermore, since our children often lack official identification documents and come from difficult economic backgrounds, most of them are unable to enrol in, or stay in public school education. These are the children our Cau Han provides an opportunity to learn core Vietnamese subjects: maths, science, literature etc., through our charity classes.

Additionally, many children from HIV/AIDS affected communities and some students who attend public school but have difficult family situations are also taking the classes. The students are proactive and have a strong bond with their teachers and volunteer university students. These children sadly have lower capabilities compared to their public school peers due to a number of personal and/or social issues, and so our goal is to increase and improve their capabilities by providing education in a non-judgemental, student centered environment where we are prepared for their unusual circumstances.

Many impoverished children struggle to keep up when they join secondary school, which in turn results in lower scores, school drop-outs, and even children becoming caught up in social problems. Sadly, parents are often too busy working hard to make a living to cater to their children’s educational needs, and any behavioural or developmental issues the children may experience during their growth. Our social workers work to identify and support children with such needs. By combining social work support and flexible education based on students’ needs, our project provides a charity class where our students are well cared for, and who have a strong drive towards learning.

Mission and roles:

The Cau Han’s HIV/AIDS support project has been running for 24 years. The project’s main mission is to provide HIV/AIDS affected children with better nutrition and decent healthcare in order to protect them from the risks associated with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, the project supports children with food, accommodation, and education so the children can become empowered and take agency in their own lives, in the hope they may one day enjoy a happy and stable life. The Cau Han and teachers at the charity classes always prioritize raising awareness and making connections with the students’ parents and guardians. By doing this, the whole community can better guide and educate their children to have better engagement in learning, and to be aware of how to protect and care for themselves, their friends and environment.

Since its establishment, the Cau Han charity classes have taught more than 1000 migrant children how to read and write, and provided them with knowledge about children’s rights, life skills, and self-defense skills against all forms of abuse. Thanks to the determination from the HCWA, support from the local government, companionship and academic aid from Nguyen Thi Dinh Primary School, and goodwill from partner organizations and individuals, the Cau Han charity class model has been continuously operating and played a fundamental role in protecting and responding to the needs of underprivileged children, especially with regards to children’s rights, education, healthcare, and youth engagement for 30 years.

Operating model transformation:

The Green Bamboo Warm Shelter (now the GBC) was founded in 1992 by Ho Chi Minh City Child Welfare Association. According to Nguyen Lieu – the manager of the old Green Bamboo Warm Shelter, “The shelter was opened to create opportunities and help homeless children to have some normality in life, and to get disadvantaged children off the streets”. The Green Bamboo Warm Shelter focused on holistic support, including shelter, education, healthcare, food, counseling and more, and always aimed to create the best environment for children to develop both mentally and physically. In the period of 1998 to 2020, The Green Bamboo Center nurtured and cared for hundreds of homeless children.

Due to Vietnam’s incredible economic turn around over the past 30 years, the GoV’s national socio-economic development strategy 2011-2020 changed their focus on underprivileged children due to the significantly smaller number of street children in Vietnam’s now middle-income economy. In response to this, the Green Bamboo shelter changed its model to become the Green Bamboo social work center so that we could provide modern necessary care for underprivileged children in today’s society.

Our goal is to raise awareness of children’s rights and create a healthy and favorable environment for children to develop physically, academically, spiritually, morally, and socially. We aim to strengthen our knowledge and skills to protect children, while we continue to challenge all forms of violence towards vulnerable children. In order to meet the goal of ensuring children’s rights outlined in the socio-economic development strategy in the period 2020 – 2030, the Green Bamboo Center transformed from a centralized parenting model to a social protection facility in July 2020.

The Green Bamboo Center has expanded our education, care and support to a larger and more diverse group of beneficiaries. Our previous model could only support about 20 children, our new model can support hundreds of children and their families. This model helps to promote the development of professional social work, and build an advanced social security system that suits the conditions of the GoVietnam’s economic development. The Green Bamboo Center focuses on providing children with education, healthcare, social services, nutritional meals, counseling, family support, and education about rights and life skills on a daily basis.

Inquiry-based education:

At the HCWA, we understand that for all children, education is a gateway to a brighter future, and we have always aimed to stay ahead of the curve with regards to the kinds of education that we provide for our children.
We know that education is one of the primary foundations for social development, and consequently we decided to implement inquiry-based education into our Green Bamboo Center, the most progressive and student centered educational pedagogy to date.

The Green Bamboo Children suffer from a number of social and personal issues. Consequently, they deserve an educational method that focuses on individual development. We offer a unique environment conducive to creative learning and innovation, interaction with each other and learning through play. Our pedagogy allows teaching and learning to be student-centred and inquiry-driven, and learning through play is one of the most common teaching approaches used by our staff. This learner-centered method arouses children’s curiosity, leading them to ask questions, and be the leaders of their own educational journey. Teachers only play a supportive role in leading and guiding students with solving problems and discovering. This method encourages teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity.

The Green Bamboo Center could not have undertaken these projects successfully without the help of donors. On behalf of all employees working at the center, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the German Consulate for funding the Green Bamboo Center’s restoration and the establishment of our charity classes. We would also like to thank UPP Global for assisting us in improving our pedagogy and curriculum, and for providing quality teachers for our children.

Address: 45/6 Bis Tran Xuan Soan, Tan Thuan Tay Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City.

Project Manager: Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Phuc

Phone: (+84) (28) 3872 1980


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