Imagine leaving your village for a harsh life in a big city with no job.
Imagine your daughter cannot attend school because you are an immigrant.
Imagine your son is not accepted into school because he has no birth certificate.
Imagine your family returns each day to a hospital to sleep because it is free.
Outrageous? Nonetheless, more than 11,000 Vietnamese street children are working and living in Ho Chi Minh City. Most of them go to bed each night hungry and despondent. Street children have fallen through society’s cracks – there are few ladders for them to climb back up. They are invariably malnourished, receive minimal education, medical treatment, and are involved in child labor from an early age. They live as their parents did and as their own children are likely to live in an endless cycle.
This shocking reality is the reason Friends For Street Children Association (FFSC) was established with a goal of integrating into society these children, who are human beings at the edge of losing themselves. Founded by Mr. Thomas Tran Van Soi in 1984, FFSC operates without any discrimination on the basis of race, religion or ethnic origin. We believe that children are citizens in their own right and are entitled to the full spectrum of human rights.
At FFSC, we truly believe in the power of education. Only an adequate education can pull a child out of the cruel destiny that awaits him/her. Our strategy is not only about helping the current street children, but also about preventing children from being street children. In addition to offering warm shelters, nutrition, and medical care, we enroll children in development classes in an attempt to provide them the education they deserve. We believe in a comprehensive approach to development, which promotes not only intellectual education but also emotional education. We provide training for the parents to raise their awareness of the importance of their children’s education and to equip them with the necessary soft skills in family life. Through these efforts, we strive to prevent these disadvantaged children from being caught in the web of social evils that surround them.
In our nearly 30 years working with the street children in our city, FFSC has grown from one model development center to the current seven development centers and one social enterprise. We currently serve more than 1,100 children and their families in different neighborhoods throughout Ho Chi Minh City. However, our efforts are still relatively diminutive when compared to the number of street and disadvantaged children in the city. To achieve our mission, we welcome all the support from individuals and groups with visions similar to ours whether as partners, sponsors, volunteers or simply friends providing material and spiritual support.