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Foreign teachers raise $40,000 for Vietnamese children through walkathon
Jenna Duong 23:11, 2024/02/25
A pair of expats have raised money to help underprivileged children in Vietnam by walking from the north to the south for almost three months.

Jake Norris, 36, from South Australia and Sean Down, 44, from Ireland just finished their charity trek in Vietnam on February 24.

Jake Norris (left) and Sean Down (right) take a photo as they walk past the Duc Pho district in the central province of Quang Ngai. Photo: Vietnam Charity Walk: A Walk For Change   

Through torrential rain and 40-degree heat, dizzying mountain climbs and breathtaking coastal roads, these two expats have endured a three-month test of their stamina to create a better future for the country's children.

The ambitious initiative, entitled 'Vietnam Charity Walk: A Walk For Change", has attracted the attention and support of individuals, companies, and communities from all over the world.

The total fund raised reaches nearly US$40,000 and the two expats expect that number to continue to rise in the coming month as the donation page at  https://gogetfunding.com/vietnam-charity-walk/ is left open for further contributions to help underprivileged children in Vietnam.

 The duo was photographed on days 22 and 23 of the walk.

Jake, who works as an English teacher and calls Vietnam his home for now, said he was deeply motivated by the children he has met on his travels, who continue to show such tremendous kindness and happiness despite the daily hardships and adversity they face.

"The challenges these children face are unimaginable and it's our duty to make a difference," said Jake. "By walking across Vietnam, we hope not only to raise funds but also to shine a light on the issues these children face on a daily basis."

For Sean Down, the trip has been both the toughest and most rewarding experience they have ever had. "We're very lucky to have been able to do this because we know that most people can't just take three months off to do something like this. We feel that because Vietnam has been so good to us, it was time to try and give something back." 

The weather was a major challenge for the expats. At the start of the trek, they endured weeks of cold and rain, but as they reached Quy Nhon and Dalat, the temperature and humidity soared, often forcing them to set off at four o'clock in the morning to be spared the heat.

The Vietnamese countryside, as they saw it during their walk on days 14 and 15 in Nghe An, a central province of Vietnam.

Sean has arthritis in his ankle and, at one point, developed a very bad chest infection, but he managed to get through it. Jake is much fitter than Sean, but he had to put his relationship with his girlfriend, Molly, on hold while he walked, which was very challenging for him.

Throughout the 2,200-km trek from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City along an unprecedented mountainous route, the two expats have received incredible support from the locals.

"People stopped every day to offer us food and water, invited us into their homes for tea or dinner, and when they heard about the charity walk, many people offered us free accommodation for the night or dinner," said Sean.

In rural areas, the generosity of people was particularly amazing, as many of these people didn't have much to offer - but they offered it anyway. One of their fondest memories was being taken in by the nuns at the monastery on Ly Son Island, where they were given the most wonderful vegan food and shown around the amazing local temple.

"We're both tired after the trip, but thrilled that we've completed it and that we've helped to make a positive difference in the world," said Sean.

 The locals the pair met on day 59 of their trek.

The two teachers are ready to take on a bigger challenge next year and continue their great projects for underprivileged children in Vietnam.

Half of the money raised this year will be donated to the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, while the other half will go to the Thanh Loc Project (raised by famous Vietnamese artist Thanh Loc) to provide education for underprivileged children, building classrooms, libraries, and homes for families.

According to Rod Stone, founder of the Thanh Loc Project, just over $250 is enough to send a child to school for a full year, paying for tuition, textbooks, personal health insurance, backpacks, uniforms; everything a child needs for a full year of our education.

"Most of these children are attending school for the first time through our student education scholarship programs. It's an amazing achievement so far," he said.

The Thanh Loc Project focuses on providing education, housing, food, water, and shelter to underprivileged children in Vietnam through long-term, sustainable solutions.

Blue Dragon Children's Foundation works to combat the pervasive issue of human trafficking and is committed to rescuing and rehabilitating victims, providing education and vocational training, and raising awareness to prevent further exploitation.

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TAG: Aussie Charity Walk Vietnam; Vietnam Charity Walk: A Walk For Change
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