In March, a team of 10 caring people departed the U.S. for a two-week excursion to participate in “Cycling Out Child Poverty in Vietnam,” a fundraiser for the charity Children of Vietnam (CoV), with participants cycling four days and 135 miles to raise awareness and funds for children in poverty.
“This was a multi-continent awareness and fundraising campaign about the issues of child poverty in Vietnam,” said Children of Vietnam Executive Director, Nancy Letteri. “The campaign had many venues for people to participate. Of course, there was our team of 10 riding in Vietnam, but participants also cycled on their own in the U.S., forming teams, such as the Piedmont Flyers, who cycled for us. One team cycled from Murphy to Manteo, and another team from the UK dedicated their “extreme Patagonia” adventure to the campaign.
Youth in Florida and the Netherlands worked to spread the word on social media using our hashtag #cycleoutchildpovertyvietnam, and a crowd fundraising campaign accompanied the event at childrenofvietnam.causevox.com/, which received 465 donations, helping us reach our goal of $95,000. It was an amazing event on all fronts. People were incredible, contributing in so many ways.” Hanesbrands, Maritime Products and Vinh Hoan were top corporate sponsors of the event.
“The cost to travel for the cycling team was covered individually by all of the riders, so they paid their own way and also fundraised,” Letteri explained.
Ben Wilson, the 83-year-old founder and president of the organization and Winston-Salem resident, participated in the cycling trek and made it a family affair. He was joined by his three sons and granddaughter. After 22 hours in the air, Ben and his sons Benjamin, Jr., Gregory, Elliott, and granddaughter Isabel, a junior at Appalachian State, the family arrived safely in Danang, Vietnam, where they joined Nancy Letteri, Executive Director of the organization, and board members John Merson and Nhan Nguyen. Three corporate cyclists from Hanesbrands also participated.
Elliott and daughter Isabel were the Wilson Family Champions as they breezed up the 1400-foot climb the first day of the trek. The team cycled by rice paddies, through lush jungles and remote mountains, where the Children of Vietnam organization has built 13 kindergartens and schools in the last five years, to give the C’tu ethnic minority children the best educational start possible and opportunities for a better economic future.
The team cycled on the next day to Dai Loc Orphanage, also supported by CoV, to visit the children there and view funded improvements, such as the covered play area, upgraded bathrooms and an equipped kitchen.
On their final day, the DaNang Cycle Club joined the Cycling Out Child Poverty team in solidarity for the last 30 miles up the coast back to DaNang and over the famous Dragon Bridge. After crossing the bridge, the cycling team was greeted with leis and shouts by university students who’ve received CoV scholarships, local partners, and the children of Hoa Mai Orphanage (another funded partner) waving Vietnamese and American flags.
Child Poverty in Vietnam:
- One in every four Vietnamese children under the age of five suffers from malnutrition, while one in every six children is underweight, according to The National Nutrition Institute.
- According to UNICEF, half of Vietnam’s 1.3 million children with disabilities do not have access to education, and only 6% of them complete upper secondary school.
- In 2010, 46% of poor households and 58% of extremely poor households were headed by persons who had not completed primary school, according to a World Bank study.
Children of Vietnam creates a future for these children that is full of promise. CoV is dedicated to providing these children with what they need to succeed in life: good nutrition, lifesaving healthcare, safe and secure housing, and access to education.
As a result of CoV’s life-changing programs, these children can look toward a brighter future. CoV helps these children escape the CYCLE of POVERTY.
“Never have I been so honored and pleased when having all sons and a granddaughter with me for a scenic, culinary and tiring adventure, never to be forgotten,” said founder, president and cyclist Ben Wilson.
Much of the support for Children of Vietnam comes from individuals across the U.S. Please consider joining the Children of Vietnam mission.
To get involved, visit childrenofvietnam.org or send a tax-deductible donation to CoV Office, P.O. Box 18039, Greensboro, NC 27419.