In love with Vietnam

School on the boat

School on the Boat, a small building on Nghia Dung lane in Hanoi, is a beloved class for 30 disadvantaged children living along the Red River and in the Long Bien neighborhood. The school is a reliable address for poor families hoping to have a better future for their children.
Lucie Ferro from France is the international coordinator of School on the Boat in Vietnam. The 22-year-old volunteer came to Vietnam with the desire to help Vietnamese disadvantaged children have a better life.

We joined Lucie Ferro in a visit to floating homes on the Red River’s middle ground. The houses are made simply with canvas, bamboo mats, sponges, water tanks, and similar unsafe materials. Living in these homes are children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school.

School on the Boat has given these children a chance to go to school. Seven-year-old Bui Tung Linh is one of them. Linh’s mother, Trang, works as a house cleaner, earning between 50,000-100,000 dong (2.2-4.4 US dollars) a day to support her two children and a paralyzed husband. Thanks to School on the Boat, Linh is now able to attend grade 2 at Nghia Dung primary school. “Linh’s going to school is a gift of happiness with which nothing can be compared,” Trang said.

Lucie Ferro talks with the kids about their studies. 

School on the Boat organizes monthly cultural activities for the children.

There are now 10 international volunteers and many Vietnamese working for School on the Boat.

Lucie Ferro and the children on their way to school.

School on the Boat has provided support for 69 disadvantaged children living along the Red River.

The organization also organizes activities for the children to learn about Vietnam’s culture

School on the Boat has tutoring classes after school to help children with their homework in English, Math and Literature.

At School on the Boat, children have a chance not only to learn but also to travel to different parts of the country.

School on the Boat's volunteers become close friends of families living along the Red River

The organization organizes tutoring classes for the children on weekdays.

At a festival held by School on the Boat.

For Thinh, who has an old grandmother and a sick mother living without any stable income, schooling was a luxury he had never dreamt of. When Thinh was offered a chance to go to school by School on the Boat volunteers, his mother cried happily “School on the Boat has given my son a valuable learning chance.”

School on the Boat is a French non-governmental organization that was set up in 2011. The organization’s main objective is to give access to education to disadvantaged children living along the Red River and in the Long Bien neighborhood.
School on the Boat is not only a tutoring class helping disadvantaged children with their homework. It also helps improve the personal development of the children through monthly cultural, sport and art activities. School on the Boat has also organized an annual project which allows the kids to travel beyond Hanoi to inspire a love for their homeland and provide them with life skills.

At present, School on the Boat has financed schooling fees for six children from the floating village and 24 others from the neighborhoods of Phuc Xa, Phuc Tan and Long Bien.

“School on the Boat is a wonderful place for people who want to give. It is a humane environment for us to share, experience and feel the warmth of life,” said Tony Jaa Nguyen, a volunteer home tutor for the children.

Story: Bich Van - Photos: Viet Cuong