In 1995, the Sisters of the Thu Duc Congregation of Lovers of the Holy Cross met several blind children who lived as beggars, did not have a place to stay and had no education. The Sisters approached a School for the Blind but there were no place available as the school was full. Besides, there learnt that there were blind students who had graduated from the Blind School but did not have opportunity to continue their education in high school and university and were concerned about their future. After a long discussion, with the support of some benefactors, the Sisters decided to set up the Nhat Hong Home for the Blind in Thi Nghe, Binh Thanh District, Saigon, on the 26 September 1995, to provide food and shelter for blind children, and also provide career training for them with a basket weaving program.
Later, the Sisters recognized that blind children need not only food and accommodation but also education, and started to send blind children to the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind to attend day classes then come back to the Home in the evening. After that, Nhat Hong gradually set up its own classes at the Home. The Sisters attended training courses to get knowledge and skills to be able to work with the blind. The Congregation started to send Sisters to study about education for the blind in Vietnam and abroad.
In 1999, after a very careful preparation, Nhat Hong started to send its children to be integrated into ordinary schools and provided support to both students and their class teachers. Day by day, the Inclusive Education program showed its success and brought a lot of benefit to children with vision impairment, helping them to be truly included in society.
In 2000, the Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation started to provide partial support for food and necessaries for the children. This allowed Nhat Hong to extend its services to reach more children with vision impairment.
From 2001, with the assurance of five years of financial support from Dark and Light Foundation, and technical support from Perkins International, the Early Intervention and Multiple Impaired Education programs were started. Besides, the Overbrook-Nippon Network on Educational Technology (ONNET) provided technology support, and with the technical support from the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), the Inclusive Education program was developed rapidly in Saigon and also in Da Lat, Lam Dong province.
In 2002, to respond to the need of children with vision impairment and mental retardation, Nhat Hong set up the Long Thanh Career Training sub-centre to develop simple hand-craft and agriculture. Later, this place also provide services to children with Vi and additional impairments. At the same time, in Saigon, the career training program was growing day by day with new careers such as music, teaching, office work, traditional medicine and treatment massage, high-quality hand-craft, and domestic economy.
In 2005, there were more children with vision impairment, especially those from minority ethics groups, who needed care and education, so the Suoi Mo (Bao Loc, Lam Dong province) and Vi Thuy (Hau Giang province) Homes for the Blind were set up.
In 2006, when the first 3 students graduated from high school enrolled to college and Universities, Nhat Hong started the Higher Education program to support these students, and later more students joined the program.
In 2007, in Tam Ha, Thu Duc District, Nhat Hong had a new Centre that was built with financial support and in partnership with the Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM) to be a resource centre to provide services to children and young persons with vision impairment and also to provide human and material resources for its sub-centers and other agencies. The Center also provided services such as Vocational Education program, Career Training, Employment and supported people with vision impairment from all over Vietnam.
In 2008, after the death of Mr. Paul Dao Khanh Truong, the Director of Bung Sang, according to the request of his family, the Congregation received Bung Sang to continue to provide care and education for children with vision impairment of this foundation.
In 2010, an Early Intervention program for young children with VI was started in Bac Ninh province, the North of Vietnam. Later, the Sisters in Bac Ninh also extended their services to children with vision impairment in inclusive education settings and children with multiple disabilities including vision impairment in Bac Ninh, Ha Noi, Thai Nguyen, and Bac Giang provinces.
In 2011, the Nhat Hong Traditional Medical Clinic was opened, to be a job-placement and a working place to provide treatment that combines press-puncture of Eastern Medicine and physio-therapy of Western Medicine. Through this training program, young people with vision impairment are given the opportunity to use their abilities to serve patients and assist them by reducing their suffering. In the same year, a music center and a gift shop were opened to train people with vision impairment and to serve society.
Through nearly 20 years, Nhat Hong has many graduated students who have jobs, get married, live independently and contribute their abilities to society. Nhat Hong has the above results because of God’s grace (HIStory, not OURstory), the investment and guidance of the Thu Duc Congregation of Lovers of the Holy Cross, the support of organizations, agencies and individual benefactors, with contribution and love of Sisters, teachers, staff, and volunteers. Towards the future, Nhat Hong wishes to continue to receive support and cooperation of everyone, so that Nhat Hong develops its services and brings a better life to children and young persons with vision impairment in Vietnam.
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