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The Lifestart Foundation is a grassroots, not-for-profit charity based in Hoi An that helps disadvantaged Vietnamese people and their families to become self-sufficient. Founded in 2000 by Karen Leonard and operated by a team of dedicated volunteers, the Foundation applies a holistic approach to helping those in need through proven working programs and initiatives which are designed to bring about a generational change.
The team works to create sustainable and ongoing sources of income for disadvantaged people via education and vocational training schemes. The Lifestart Foundation provides people with complex disabilities with safe accommodation, transportation, medical support and dental treatment, as well as improved opportunities, through their main projects:
Lifestart Foundation Workshop
The workshop is an outlet for the creation of fine arts and crafts as well as a means of empowering disabled people so they can become self sufficient. It provides a supportive community network where they can improve their self confidence, achieve a sense of independence and earn a sustainable income.
Free Disability Community Centre (FDCC)
The FDCC works directly with adults in Central Vietnam who are living with complex disabilities as a result of polio, war injuries, cerebral palsy and accidents, and aims to give them new and improved opportunities in life. It offers expert one-on-one assessments, supervised rehabilitation, professional physiotherapy and nutritional advice, all tailored to individual needs. Those who need specialist medical treatment are referred to a local hospital for surgery or prosthetics. Lifestart Foundation also provides physiotherapy, occupational therapy and related health services at two outreach centres in the Quang Nam Province.
Free School and Scholarship Program
Lifestart Foundation Free School is a valuable facility for extremely poor, illiterate, disadvantaged, neglected and abused children and young people aged between 8 and 20 years old, who are not able to continuemainstream education. In a safe, happy and stimulating environment they receive lessons in Vietnamese literacy and numeracy. English language and vocational training opportunities are also offered to improve their future employment prospects.
Scholarships are available for children who could not otherwise afford an education, to cover the cost of school fees, extra classes, books, stationery, uniforms and transport where needed.
In 2010, the Foundation launched a Seven Year Educational Scholarship program to give exceptionally bright but extremely disadvantaged children the chance to fulfiltheir dreams of completing their education. Aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty, the scholarship is designed to fundthe completion of education for children from Year 6 to Year 12, as well as higher educationat University level.
In Hanoi you can visit the Lifestart Foundation workshop at 77 Phan Chau Trinh to learn more about the work underway; participate in traditional Vietnamese painting & lantern-making classes and buy some of the extremely attractive and diverse craftwork produced there.
Alternatively you can help to sponsor a student’s education or make a donation that will support the Foundation’s Free Disability Community Centre.
Your donation directly benefits their needs:
US $ 20 40kg of rice to help feed a family in need for 2 months
US$ 50 Text books for an LSF scholar or partner school library
US$ 100 Bicycle to help a student travel to and from school
US$ 500 Scholarship Day in Da Nang – a semi-annual event where approximately 30 of LSF’s student scholars are taken into the big city for a day of fun to celebrate their academic successes
US$ 1 000 Two-year scholarship to help a Year 10 student complete secondary school
US$ 1 600 Three-wheel motorbike to give a physically disabled person independence and mobility
US$ 2 000 One year salary for a teacher for severely disadvantaged youths
US$ 3 300 A seven year scholarship to enable a Year 6 student to complete secondary school