Cam Thuy Computer Center
Hands-On Saigon’s fourth computer center project is in Cam Thuy, Thanh Hoa province, complete with ten quality multimedia notebooks, UPS and server, as well as keyboards, Internet router, and salaries for the teachers, made possible by a grant from Family Care Foundation. Two sessions are taught daily, 2-3 times a week, for 30 students per session (three students share each laptop during class).
The first group of students comes from poor families living in the immediate vicinity of the center. They are generally considered youth-at-risk, since many of their parents are farmers who can hardly provide food some years, much less a sufficient education or a stable future for them. Because of a lack of dependable irrigation and frequent poor harvests due to insufficient rainfall, many are considering giving up farming and moving to the cities. This often results in social problems as the young people have no skills aside from farming, resulting in turning to prostitution, crime and drugs.
Another primary reason for establishing the new computer center in Cam Thuy was to help lift the H’mong youth (an ethnic minority) out of abject poverty and miserable living conditions. The program’s aim is to provide them with valuable skills that will also help them better integrate into Vietnamese society and expand their possibilities to help their families break out of poverty.
During the summer months, a group of H’mong students will attend vocational training classes at the center. Room and board is provided along with free computer literacy training. Unlike the local Vietnamese youth who study there only in the evenings, the H’mong students will study fulltime during these summer months due to the fact that they live in remote and fairly isolated locations in the mountainous regions near Laos and couldn’t possibly attend daily classes. In the fall they will return to their far away villages and continue their schooling at small local schools. Hopefully, they will also be able to return the following summer to continue their computer training.
Local residents have enthusiastically suggested that this is now the best computer center in the whole province of Thanh Hoa, which is one of the poorest in Vietnam.