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Pagoda nourishes needy children with love
One pagoda is making a huge difference, providing shelter and education for children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity.
Loc Tho Pagoda, located in Ngoc Hoi Hamlet, Vinh Ngoc Commune, Nha Trang City, has classes that teach 130 disadvantaged children, from kindergarten to primary school, with most of these children living under the very roof of the pagoda.
Some kids who attend these special classes at the pagoda were left behind as unwanted pregnancies that led their parents to put their children’s fate into the hands of the monks living at the pagoda. It is especially true in the cases of Vinh Tri, who was left in front of Loc Tho Pagoda when he was just 3 months old, and Vinh Toan, whose mother came to pray at the pagoda and then left him behind underneath the pagoda’s bell.
There are families however, because of poverty or difficult circumstances, that cannot afford for their kids to go school and had no choice but to send their little ones to the pagoda in hopes that they will receive an education and learn skills that will later help them better their lives.
The pagoda has helped four siblings; Nguyen Thi Thanh Tram, Nguyen Thi Thanh Trinh, Nguyen Thanh Tam and Nguyen Ngoc Anh, tremendously since their family sells bread for a living and cannot afford to support all of their five children.
The eldest daughter of the family, Nguyen Thi Trang, stays home to help the family sell bread, while the younger ones have been sent to live with the monks at the pagoda. However, when the family needs help, Thanh Tram, the second eldest, sometimes leaves the pagoda to go home and help out. Despite this, the siblings study results have remained excellent.
In the beginning, Loc Tho Pagoda had only 2 small rooms separated by a steel divider. After a visit to the pagoda and being moved by the love at the pagoda, a Vietnamese born Canadian Buddhist decided to donate and help build 4 new classrooms in 2004. Currently, there are 3 classes that are used for teaching at the pagoda; one for kindergarten kids, one for kids in first grade and one for kids in second to fifth grade.
Teachers at Loc Tho Pagoda volunteer their time and teach for free. Pham Thi Kieu Oanh, 49 years old, used to teach at a local school, but quit her job and has been teaching at the pagoda instead. Phung My Hanh, another teacher who recently graduated, also volunteers to teach at Loc Tho Pagoda.
Kieu Oanh said, “It was very difficult at the beginning, because the children were of all different ages and levels. However, with love, we have done our best, and we just hope that the kids will learn well and have a bright future.”
At the end of each class, some kids are picked up by their parents, but others rush to gather at the pagoda’s common dining area for meals. The meals provided at the pagoda are meager but always full of warmth and love for the kids that live here.
Below are moving pictures of the children enjoying their classes at Loc Tho Pagoda.
A normal day in the classroom at Loc Tho Pagoda.
The pagoda is the perfect environment for kids with unfortunate circumstances. Here they are protected, learn for free and taught to give back.
Slogan of one class: Be good, be hardworking.
Teacher and students sharing the same table.
Children here have 2 sessions each day, 7 - 11 am in the morning and 2 - 4 pm in the afternoon.
Teacher Pham Thi Kieu Oanh holding 13 month-old Vinh Tri during a break from her classroom.
Due to difficult family circumstances, these four siblings are sent to live and study at the pagoda.
15 month-old Vinh Toan, left behind by his mother, was discovered beneath the pagoda’s bell.
Kids having fun time after class hours.
Nothing could buy a smile this naive.
Innocence still clearly shown on the children’s face.
Growing up inside the space of the pagoda, the kids will be protected and nourished with love.
Some kids are picked up by a parent at the end of the lesson, while others rush to have their meals at the pagoda’s common dining area.
Tran Thi Mai, a 68 year old local, volunteers her time to help serve the kids meals at the pagoda.
The meals are meager, but full of warmth and love.
Phan Thanh Tân @ 08:59 02/08/2010
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