We hosted our parent program for the Binh Thanh School for Hearing Impaired Children on the 11th floor of our own hotel. The school’s permit doesn’t allow for gatherings there after the school day. I set up a sign in the lobby directing people to the 11th floor but the logistics were a bit tricky because one had to take the elevator to the 10th floor and walk up the stairs to the 11th. My concerns that parents wouldn’t find us were relieved when they started coming in to the meeting room just before the 6 pm start time. Some were shy, some wore grateful smiles, and some carried a bit of anxiety with them…but the fact that the 30+ parents came at all was a wonderful testament to the innate nature of most parents – to do the best they can to help their children Vietnam’s culture is such that parents are not really encouraged to participate in their children’s education – that this is the job of the teachers. Since parents and families are the ones that spend the most time with a child in most situations, it is important they know how they can help their child develop language and cognitive skills.
There have been many instances of people offering up their support to our efforts here. One ouf our interpreters, Ms Gai, normally charges an hourly rate to provide intepretation services. For us, she said, no…what you are doing to help deaf children and their familes is important I don’t want any payment. She not only worked the parent program, but also two days at Binh Thanh and at our Saturday lecture in HCMC. I finally convinced her to accept a stipend for her wonderful efforts and generousity of time and spirit.
We had a visitng school located 4.5 hours away from Binh Thanh that sent 7 families to receive hearing aids. Our schedule was very tight with 5 other children already arranged for fitting on this day, but Jane and Joanne promised they would try to find the time to get all of them in. And..they did it……with the help of Sharad Govil, an audiologist from Phonak Asia and some trainees from Cat Tuong a distributor. After the 7 children were fit, they all returned to the room for a photo shoot that was just so endearing. The headmistress of the school caught me in the hallway and gave me the warmest hug in gratitude. It was a wonderful moment.
Saturday was our lecture to over 200 medical professionals, teachers, education students, and families at a center in Ho Chi Minh City. Cochlear Asia and Cat Tuong wer the main supporters of this event. It was a great success and our team did a terrific job sharing their expertise with the broader community.