School on the Boat was created in 2011 as a volunteer’s initiative. These volunteers were teaching children in Hanoi’s slums for 6 to 12 month programs. Some of the most passionate of these volunteers stayed in Hanoi permanently.
After months of working with the affected families, the volunteers all agreed that the children’s educational needs were not being met at the charity school they were attending. With the help of a local social worker at the school, the first group of International and Vietnamese volunteers began the process of enrolling all the children into public school.
MAINSTAYS OF SOTB
Our main mission is to offer access to education to kids living along the Red River and in the Long Bien area. Within this framework, we have built a sponsorship program. This allows us to finance scholarships for the kids participating in our program within 7 different public schools. In the school year 2018/2019, 26 kids were registered on our program. Since the creation of School on the boat, 39 kids have had the chance to enter public school. To support their educational development, our N.G.O provide the children with an after school tutoring program. To assist the kids with their classes and homework, volunteers come to our office each evening to help them overcome difficulties in math, literature or English.
School on the Boat organises sports games, cultural and artistic after-school activities. It's an ideal way for the children to enjoy experiences that wouldn’t necessarily be available to them due to their socio-economic situation. Since 2011, the kids have visited the ethnology museum, the swimming pool, had a Do-paper workshop and circus training, had a hip hop class and even went ice-skating. Additionally, we organise trips beyond Hanoi. In October 2016, the project Run to Sapa was co-organised with it’s founder Valentin Orange. The children were able to discover the beautiful landscape of Northern Vietnam and create everlasting memories..
School on the Boat monitors the children's psychological development and contributes to their medical expenses (surgery, dental, material purchases). In order for a child to study and live in good conditions, it is important for us to support them with their health expenses. The main problems encountered by the kids are respiratory and optic problems. These problems are often a direct result of their living conditions: humidity, pollution, waste brought from the current of the river, houses built from wood and steel..
We also organise a monthly rice distribution, thanks to the association "Coup de pouce", which since 2012, has provided 10 kilos of rice to each child’s family. Our initial partnership agreed on 20 kids.
School on the Boat welcomes clothes donations and distributes them to the children and their families.
We are working with families who are not part of the labor market in Hanoi; families who tried to find better living conditions in the capital, but failed. The main problem for these families is that they don’t have any legal identification documents or permits to live in Hanoi. These families came from the country side where the authorities are less strict and the way of living is simpler than in a big city. Therefore, they have to find alternative means to survive in Hanoi.
They are forced to live in these areas because these are the only places where they can build their houses without paying, even though it is technically illegal. They build floating houses made out of basic materials; plastic tarps, cardboard and old sheets of metal. The houses are extremely unsafe and unhealthy. In addition, the Red River where these houses float is very dirty. Most of Hanoi's population throw their waste along the riverbanks. The families have no other option but to use the river water to bath and wash their clothes and dishes.
Without documentation, the only jobs available to these families are very low paying and labor intensive. They work as motorbike taxi drivers, farmers, can/bottle collectors, hired hands in the night markets, and sellers of inexpensive goods along the Long Bien Bridge (lemon tea and roasted corn).
Most of the families work day and night to offer adequate living conditions to their families, but their daily average salary is between 50,000 VND to 100,000 VND (about $2-5 per day). These earnings are not sufficient to feed their families, maintain their houses or send their children to school.