Posted on 21/09/2018

Looking slightly overwhelmed, the Đoan Van sisters pose with some students after receiving their scholarships.

Đoan Van Tan Tai (8) and her sister (5)  both received an IM Alumni scholarship last month which will pay for their schooling for one year. The girls lost their parents recently and without support getting an education in the poor farming community in TienGiang province would be unaffordable. Clearly overwhelmed by the visit to their home of a large delegation including SALTorg charity members, the sisters were given 3 million Vietnam Dong (about CHF 120) each: a further 8 primary school children and 10 university students received scholarships funded by money raised at this year’s IM Alumni Bid for a Boss event with it’s charity auction.

During a ceremony at the Xã Thạnh Tân primary school, the other recipients received their envelopes from Prof Dr Teresa Freiburghaus and (IM alumna) Corinne Köpfli who run the SALTorg charity as part of the South East Asia Centre.  Also attending were 22 students, half from the FHNW School of Business, half from the Ho Chi Minh City Banking University, who participated in the Social Entrepreneurship for Economic Development programme early in August.  “It was a very moving ceremony,” says Corinne. “Some of the children have backgrounds which are unbelievably sad.  The IM Alumni scholarships will pay for school fees, books, meals and uniforms so although it’s not much for us, it’s a significant support for these children.”

Scholarship recipients attended the official ceremony on 4 August – getting front row seats. Local television filmed what was a major event in the village – SEED participants, officials from the FHNW South East Asia Centre and from the Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City as well as village officials attended.

The ceremony was filmed by local television and the children were clearly astounded by the entire event. “Some of them had never seen Europeans before,” said Corinne.  The recipients were also given a giant box of spaghetti and chocolate by partner university HCMC Banking University – where SALTorg donated another 10 partial scholarships for disadvantaged students.  Here the CHF120 each will not cover the full annual costs but are still a welcome support.

Selling vegetables to make ends meet

The students selected to receive a scholarship all face considerable hardships. For recipient Bui Thi Ngoc (17) and his family getting enough money is a constant struggle. “I was born in Phu Thien district, Gia Lai province. When I was hardly one year old, my father had an accident and died. My mother worked in different jobs to take care of the three children. My two elder sisters are medical students in the University of Central Highlands and I have been a 1st student of Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City. Recently, my mother has a fractured her leg so she has no ability to work. The family is very poor and has no land for cultivation and financial backing & economically very poor. In order to manage our daily life, I get up early to go to the market and buy vegetables for sale and I earn about 10,000 VND per day. In the afternoons, I sell the fried bananas with 20,000 VND per day earnings. My life is very tough and hard to manage, but I always try my best to win my own situation and not lose my balance. I have been a good student for 12 years in school. Besides, I am an active person in the activities organized by the district delegation…”

Bui Thi Ngoc (17) receives his IM Alumni scholarship during the colourful and musical award ceremony at the Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City.

These university scholarships were awarded during a ceremony at the university in Ho Chi Minh City – a festive programme where many musical clubs and students put on an entertaining show.

IM Alumni’s Bid for a Boss is an annual event which includes a charity auction – about a dozen professionals donate interesting opportunities which are bid for.  These bosses also participate in the rest of the entertaining evening, including the speed-networking.

Each year between CHF3000 and CHF 4000 are raised of which the majority go to a nominated charity and to funding the IM Alumni Graduation Prize which acknowledges community spirit. This year, CHF 2000 was donated to SALTorg.  The next #IMBoss (Bid for a Boss) event is on 21 March 2019.

Thanks so much once more to everyone involved: bosses, sponsors, attendees, organisers, the IM programme, SEAC….you all made a difference.

Recipients were nominated by school leaders and then co-selected with the SALTorg managers. The full list of scholarship recipients will be published soon.

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