Declared a unified country in 1975 after a decades-long war resulted in colonization, Vietnam has a population of more than 96 million people and boasts one of Southeast Asia's fastest growing economies. However, much of its land remains contaminated by chemical agents, landmines, shells, and bombs. This after-effect of war has wounded or killed over 105,000 Vietnamese—many of them children. Currently, a large youth population is helping to develop the country and face these challenges head on.
In 2011, Play for Peace was invited to Vietnam and began working with Rita Nguyen, who is currently a Play for Peace trainer and regional coordinator. After working with HIV children as a part-time consultant for an international non-profit organization, she joined a Play for Peace training that completely changed her path. Impressed with Play for Peace's dedication to supporting the community and sharing their knowledge and skills, Rita and her teammates founded A New Day Social Work Club, one of Play for Peace's first clubs. The club works with those who are marginalized by society, children who have HIV, the LGBTQ community, children in rural areas, and people who are physically challenged. Now Rita is inspiring a new generation to lead student and young professional volunteers.
Play for Peace Vietnam's work is supported by the local community, including Thich Nu Thien Luan, a Buddhist nun and educational project partner. Most of her community's residents are domestic immigrants from northern and central Vietnam who lack money and education. When A New Day Social Work Club visited her temple, she observed many changes in the children there, including kindness and compassion for one another, confidence in themselves, and the motivation to make changes in their lives. Going forward, A New Day Social Work Group will continue its work helping children and teens facing social, cultural, and other conflict in Vietnam.
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"Volunteering for A New Day and getting to know Play for Peace was an important mark in my life. Not only was I trained how to work with communities, but I also had the chance to share and learn practical experiences with very nice people in the group during many trips to suburban areas. I gained skills and experiences, but also learned how to love and to share."
Do Trinh Trong - A New Day Social Work Club
Nguyen Thi Nhung - the president of NSC: "Non-Smoking Club (NSC) for me is a very warm family. It is the boat I need to steer by my youth effort alongside with a great dedication of many other members. I love NSC because of its ideal of aiming for a "Smoke-free world." As long as people still smoke, NSC has the specific job to do."
Nguyen Thi Nhung - Non-Smoking Club
A New Day Social Work Club
Ho Chi Minh City
Quy Nhon Club
Quy Nhon City
We are very excited about two new Play for Peace clubs that recently started in Vietnam, the Danang Club and the Quy Nhon club! After forming this past summer, both clubs are working on educational initiatives that will benefit children in their region, and need your help.
Tomorrow, September 21, is World Peace Day. In honor of this important global celebration, we are excited about the many wonderful efforts happening in the Play for Peace global community—from our clubs’ World Peace Day activities to our annual Fall 5K event.
It is thanks to the passion and dedication of our community members that Play for Peace continues to spread to new areas around the world. This is especially true of our regional coordinator, Rita Nguyen, who dedicated her summer vacation to creating laughter, compassion, and peace in new communities in Vietnam.