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  • Provide sponsorships to cover the monthly school fees and supplies to assure that every child attends school, provide tutors in the case of learning difficulties
  • Visit homes in the evening and weekends to determine the family situation and provide moral support (financial when necessary)
  • Assure access to the latest treatments and medical care, including dental care, encourage preventative medicine
  • Meet weekly to share information, discussion, games, music, art
  • Accompany families in overcoming the administrative bureaucracy of Vietnam
  • Disseminate the most recent information on the care of AIDS
  • Educate families in hygiene, nutrition and lifestyle to reinforce the immune system and avoid opportunistic diseases
  • Bring joy and laughter back into people’s lives through games, parties, music, and extracurricular activities
  • Offer classes in yoga, English, computer, and massage
  • Offer micro-credits for people wanting to start a small business, encourage independence
  • Accompany families emotionally and financially in the case of death
  • Work on self-respect and plans for the future
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LỊCH SINH HOẠT TRONG THÁNG 3 VÀ 4 NĂM 2011


Thứ Tư:
14h30 - 16h00: Anh Văn
18h00 - 20h00: Lớp đồ hoạ AYV  Yoga cho người lớn
Thứ Bảy:
8h45 - 9h45: Anh Văn
10h00 - 11h30: Dạy kèm Văn Hoá
11h30 - 14h00: Ăn trưa và nghỉ trưa
14h00 - 15h00: Lớp vẽ
15h00 - 16h30: Lớp Vi tình và Lớp nhíp ảnh
Chủ Nhật:
8h00 - 10h00: Lớp đồ hoạ AYV
8h30 - 10h00: Lớp bơi
9h00 - 10h00: Yoga cho trẻ em
10h00 - 11h30: Lớp Vi tính và dạy kèm Văn Hoá
11h30 - 14h00: Ăn trưa và nghỉ trưa
14h00 - 15h30: Lớp bơi và Lớp Vi tính
15h00 - 16h15: Lớp hát/nhạc
15h30 - 16h30: Lớp múa

 

Chủ Nhật, 3/4/2011

8h30 - 10h15: Sinh hoạt trò chơi tại Thảo Cầm Viên
10h30 - 11h45: Bơi lội tại hồ bơi Yết Kiêu
11h45 - 14h00: Ăn trưa và nghỉ trưa
14h00 - 15h30: Tập huấn về Lòng Tự Trọng
15h30 - 16h30: Lớp múa và Lớp hát/nhạc
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Newsletter February 2011

Dear Friends of SMILE,

Our new Center has not only allowed us to expand our activities but also attracts volunteers from around the world.  It makes for a rich and healthy environment.


This Sunday morning, a group of volunteer dentists came to care for the whole group.  All of the dentists work full time during the week at clinics or hospitals or have their own practice - and on Sunday, they devote their day to treating people who can't afford to pay for care.

Picture1


They travel with a mobile unit, and every Sunday they visit a village or town in the country to treat people for free who otherwise would never have access to dental care. This time, it was our urban courtyard that was turned into a dental clinic.

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For some of the children, it was their first experience with a dentist and getting them to open their mouths was the biggest challenge!

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Before leaving, Dr. Vy made sure to demonstrate to all of the children the essentials of dental hygiene.

Picture4


And, while the dentists were pulling teeth in the courtyard, Lex was back doing stretching muscles in the activity room. Yoga is becoming an integral part of the SMILE GROUP and, if observations are worth anything, it seems to be helping many of the children with confidence, equilibrium and concentration.

Picture5


Our friend, Dr. Mai, (a woman to whom I will devote my next documentary film) spent a couple of hours talking to the teenage girls about everything and anything a young girl would want to know. (Dr. Mai is a general practitioner in HCMC, who also, after working all day at the hospital, devotes her evenings to caring for people for free.)

Picture6


Meanwhile the younger children attended a painting workshop upstairs in the classroom.

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Volunteers tutored children individually....

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Mothers read books to their children...

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And the grandmothers prepared lunch in the kitchen.

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A short performance for the dentists to show our appreciation for their visit...

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and then after lunch and a well deserved nap, it was back to work on our new computers set up to teach IT, filmmaking and photoshop.

Picture12

 

and a second computer station to practice on their own.

Picture13

 

By 4:00 in the afternoon, the kids were ready to work off some steam. A game of tag starts in the activity room and when it gets too hot,

Picture14

 

continues in the courtyard.

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cooling down with a game of hop scotch...

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And a "so long, see you next week" farewell.

Picture17

LESLIE, MINH-PHUONG, DUOC, ELISABETH

 

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MUI NE TRIP AT TET HOLIDAY

Muine extra 1

Dear Friends,

Last weekend, we went on our annual TET trek to the sea. God knows, I never thought I would quote George W. Bush, but I call this trip the "No Child (nor adult) Left Behind" trip.

Nga, 8 yrs old, whom some of you may recognize from my film, takes time in the train to practice writing. 4 years ago the doctors had deemed her case hopeless and sent her home to die. She has since had access to ARV medication, physical therapy and special education.
The old grandfather with the cane (in fact he's just 2 years older than me!) hasn't left his home in years, usually confined to a wheel chair. But in Mui Ne, he accompanied us everywhere. By the fourth day, the frozen frown on his face broke into a broad smile.
Muine 1

Visit to the sand dunes: The whole group hiked up the sand dunes. When the incline got to steep, we all helped each other up to the top.

Muine 2

 

Duoc has become the heart and soul of the SMILE GROUP. There is "no mountain too high, no valley too deep nor river too wide to keep Duoc away". His will is an incredible example for all the struggling families, including myself.

Muine 3



Whether swimming, playing on the beach...

Muine 4



making and flying our own kites

Muine 5



practicing Yoga by the beach

Muine 6



or dancing around the bonfire

Muine 7



The trip was a JOYFEST for all of us.

Muine 8




Thank you especially to Anh Tong and Jules who offered us this wonderful vacation.

LOVE TO ALL AND HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR,
LESLIE, ELISABETH, MINH-PHUONG, DUOC AND THE SMILE GROUP

Muine extra 2

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NEWSLETTER IN JANUARY 2011

Dear Friends,

First of all, we all want to wish you endless reasons to SMILE in 2011. And thank you for your interest and support which keeps us going day by day.

The New Year began with a the wedding of a young friend of ours who had grown up in the streets and then lived at Thao Dan, the shelter for street children founded by Thay Hung. It's always rewarding to see one of the street children grow up and start his/her own family in better conditions than they ever could have imagined.

Dressing for the wedding, the boys from SMILE GROUP were excited to wear a suit and bow tie for the very first time.

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And the girls looked like the icing on a wedding cake. Not my style but very adorable.

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Early the next morning, meeting at the ZOO for games, sports and finally swimming, an activity everyone loves.

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Quy (left) is a new boy in the group. He's quite small as are most of the children on ARV medication. He has been coming for about a month and had no trouble making friends. His father tells us that it makes him cry to see his son so happy.

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Acquaintances that formed in the group over two years ago, have grown into strong friendships. On the left, Truc, one of the twins, lives with her grandmother who collects garbage to provide for the girls. Their mother is sick and back on heroin, and steals everything the grandmother manages to obtain, including food. Tuyen, right, is the oldest of four living with a single mother who has AIDS and supports her children (one of whom has AIDS) cleaning houses. Their friendship has been a great comfort for the two of them.

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After building up a good sweat in the Zoo, everyone was anxious to jump in the pool, especially Vi, the twins little sister.

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Alaina, our friend and swimming teacher from the US is back living in Vietnam. The children couldn't be happier and neither could we!

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Before ALaina came to the SMILE GROUP, all the kids were afraid to put their head under water. Now they're competing in swimming meets.

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And that all happened before lunch! Post nap, dancing with our gracious dance teacher, singing and....

DSC_0280

....a ferocious game of hopscotch, won hands down by the Olympic hopscotcher, Minh-Phuong.

DSC_0301

and just a little post-script... Linh, SMILE GROUP's first newborn, now about 15 months old, is healthy and flourishing.

DSC_0268


LOVE TO ALL,
Leslie, Elisabeth, Minh-Phuong and Duoc

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MERRY CHRISTMAS 2010
AND
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011

Smile copy


Christmas event on 18th Dec 2010

 

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DSC_0238


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Winter update in Dec 2010


The year 2010 is going over and the new year 2011 will soon come. At the Smile Group's new office - also the house of HOPE, we are happy that the children really enjoy every aspect of their beautiful second home and all the activities have more than a success and happiness. As the kids are our HOPE of future.

Phuoc

Little Phuoc and Hien want to fly up high and far.

Group of kids

Just for fun, the kids are making a unique creature with several heads.

English class
How much comfortable the children feel in an English class!

home visit
A home visit at Christmas, saying best wishes to each other.

Christmas eve

 

Giving a good answer in the Christmas Eve quiz game

In a warm and safe environment on the 24th Dec, we calibrated Christmas around the tree and enjoyed quiz game.

nodel 2

 

Model

Model Pham Thuy Vy Votoria (USA) paid a visit to the group and spent time with the children.

training
Dedicated and zealous in a training on HIV and reproductive health instructed by Ma Tam.

IMG_3396
Preparing good and nutritious food for the children, the caregivers work hard and feel so happy.


grandma

Madam Sau still worry about her difficulty at home but hoping that it can be resolved in the near future.


We look forward to a new year of peace , joy and hope for you all and for our lovable children.

Activity Schedule for March 2011

Wednesdays:

14h30 - 16h00: English tutoring for 2 old kids

18h00 - 19h45: AYV meadia class

 

Saturdays

8h45 - 11h30: Tutoring and English for 10 kids,

14h30 - 16h30: Painting class, Photography class, IT class 1


Sundays
:

8h45 - 11h30: Swimming class, English clas, Yoga class, IT class 2, Tutoring

8h00 - 10h00: AYV meadia class

14h00 - 17h00: Swimming class, Singing class, Dance class, IT class 3,

 

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A football Day

Last Sunday 5 March, we had a wonderful soccer game at a stadium.

Many thanks to Judes and Liila from Australia for their generosity, who offered us this opportunity.

The kids were very exciting and really enjoyed playing football in 1 hour and a half. A fun and cool game no matter what the size, capability, boys or girls, or nationality!

web_footballday_march2011

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UPDATE ON OCTOBER 2010

Dear Friends,
This past weekend, our student intern from Boston, Tinyal, brought Halloween to the SMILE GROUP.  It was our monthly meeting at the ZOO!
Tinyal painting Vy’s face. It might be the first time Vy stood still for more than 30 seconds!

Pic 1 NOV10-2222

Everyone became artist and work of art!
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Duoc, patient as usual, as the kids turn him into a clown!

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English lesson #1:  H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N.
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By the end of the morning,I think they got the point of Halloween.
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onto team games…

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Swimming… (to get the paint off!)

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a gourmet meal back home.

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and siesta! Now that we have a home – girls nap downstairs, boys upstairs. No need for paraphernalia like pillows and mats.
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Even the SMILE GROUP kittens were exhausted!
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The day ended with breaking of the pignatta … or “get all your frustrations out swinging at the pignatta rather than your neighbor!”
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It was all joy!
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….Just a couple more moments to share with you.

Elisabeth tells us this is called the flower in Yoga talk. It’s the prettiest flower I’ve ever seen.

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The courtyard has been dedicated to socializing ……i.e. board games, …..

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jump rope…

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adult talk…
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Meanwhile upstairs, Duoc perseveres in teaching English and tutoring the students.
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They even got me jumping around – that’s how much I love our new home!
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UPDATE ON JULY 26

Dear Friends of SMILE,

 

SMILE GROUP, all 70 of us, just spent four blissful days of vacation by the sea, swimming in the ocean, making kites out of local bamboo and old newspapers, sand castles, barbecuing fresh fish, learning about each other, and as always lots of love and sharing. The natural beauty of the site and the exuberance of the children and families drove me to shoot 847 pictures! 847 happy faces that were all lost when my professional NIKON camera was stolen at the train station upon our return to the city. So, unfortunately, we won't be able to share our trip with you. However, we have collected a couple of other pictures from other cameras.

In any case, we want to thank all of you that made it possible for us to offer the children and their families moments they will certainly remember, moments that will build their character and perhaps bring just one more ray of light into their lives.

The Trip:

We go to a place called Mui Ne, an old fishing village, where the beaches are long and wide, and most of all - TOTALLY empty!

The fishing boats anchor here in the summer when the sea is calm.


As usual, the day begins with Yoga Class taught by Elisabeth. Meanwhile the adults are preparing a fresh breakfast for 70 back in the kitchen.
Something funny happens when kids are happy. They behave incredibly well.


We never have to tell the kids twice to put on their swim suits and go to the sea.


For some, including the adults, this is their first time on a train, first time to the sea, a lot of firsts...



Why buy expensive rafts when you can just blow up a couple of balloons.
Family picture - sad to leave, looking forward to next year.


And for those of you who never had kids like me and lack affection - rent one!  They're scrumptious.

LOVE TO ALL,
ELISABETH, PHUONG, LESLIE AND DUOC

PS: Wish we could show you all the beautiful kites we made and flew, the castles we made in the sand, ....but as the Buddhists say - if you don't own anything, you've got nothing to steal!
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UPDATE ON JUNE 6, 2010


Dear Friends of SMILE,
Taking pictures of kids is so easy - choosing only 10 is what's hard. So I'll try to limit myself to themes.
Today's theme that jumped out at me was the friendship and affection between people in the group. Many of these families have been ostracized from their communities, children excluded from school, their businesses boycotted - because of AIDS. SMILE Group is a place where they are free of stigma and share affection and joy with each other with or without AIDS, as they should.
Today was our monthly meeting in the park. A strong sense of trust and friendship has formed between many of the children.
























Hen gap lai,

SMILE GROUP VN


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HAPPY CHIILDREN'S DAY 2010


CHÂN THÀNH CẢM ƠN SỰ ĐÓNG GÓP, GIÚP ĐỠ
Many thanks to the gererous donations of time and gifts

CỦA HỘI TỪ THIỆN TRÁI TIM VÀNG, NHÓM BÁC ÁI TRONG YÊU THƯƠNG,
from Trai Tim Vang Fund and the group of Bac Ai Trong Yeu Thuong

QUÝ ÂN NHÂN THÂN HỮU, TÌNH NGUYỆN VIÊN
Our Sponsors and Friends, and Volunteers

ĐÃ GIÚP ĐỠ NHÓM NỤ CƯỜI ĐEM LẠI MỘT ĐÊM ĐẦY Ý NGHĨA
helping Smile Group make a meaningful evening

CHO TRẺ EM NHÂN DỊP 1-6
for the children on June 1st


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SMILE GROUP AT THE SUOI TIEN THEME PARK

Dear Friends of SMILE GROUP,
Today, Anh Tong offered the SMILE Group another fun filled day at the SUOI TIEN Amusement Park. Moments the children will remember for the rest of their lives!
As President Obama writes referring to his daughter Sasha:
I suspect that the happiness she felt (at that moment) registers permanently in her; that such moments accumulate and embed themselves in a child’s character and become part of their soul.”

It's easy for many of us to forget the daily hardships and cruelty of these families lives. A day like today helps us ALL to forget if just for a day. We all want to thank Anh Tong for offering us these moments of happiness.












Next week we celebrate children's day! More joy-filled moments yet to come.
SMILE GROUP VIETNAM

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UPDATE ON MAY 09, 2010



If you accept the theory  "shit happens", then today was just another joyful day with SMILE GROUP.
Meeting in the park early in the morning. By 9AM the temperature was already hovering close to 100°. No breeze and a lot of humidity. UGHHHHHH!

A couple of  notable "firsts";


Vy actually remembered for the first time to wear her new glasses! (without them she can't see)


The grandmothers got down into the action!


And had a lot of fun.


Minh Phuong carried Quang over the finish line - blatantly cheating!


While Elisabeth desperately tries to keep up with a partner who was headed the wrong way!


Ba Dau (left) who can usually be found hitting her grandchildren over the head with a hammer (gently), has a good laugh.


Tuyen, even blindfolded, triumphs, as usual.


While Ba Sau, for once, uses a handkerchief over her eyes for something other than crying over her wayward children (for good reason).


Trân contemplates her future as a biker from the sidelines:


and Lex, wonderful Lex gets everyone reaching for the sky.



Then the shit hit the fan. One of our new boys who is HIV+, fell during the games in the park - and split his lip open. With blood gushing everywhere, several adults came to his aid, unfortunately, no one was wearing gloves. Something we all have to work on doing better the next time. After a trip to the emergency room and a couple of stitches, Phuoc was back on the playing field.



After lunch, Ma Tam, the "Aids Lady", does a workshop on AIDS prevention with the children.



Delirous from the heat, we all headed to the closest swimming pool.




Accompanied by Jean-Jacques, our friend from France, who has come to pitch in.


Nhan wants to tell everyone that she's happy at her new school!


And Truc, just keeps getting prettier!  As does her twin sister! Here comes trouble.



LOVE TO ALL, Leslie, Minh-Phuong, Elisabeth

UPDATE ON APRIL 18, 2010

Dear Friends of SMILE,

This past Sunday, we practiced Yoga, studied english, worked on the computers, sang and played music, but perhaps what struck me most today was the deep love between mothers and children in the face of adversity.

Yoga with Lex (left) Duoc and Khanh, the new boy (with a haircut!)




Nhan and her mother Trang (who recently lost her husband and Nhan's father) Both have AIDS. They seem to keep each other alive. (along with some effective medication)





The new boy Khanh recently moved into a group home because he and his mother were living in the streets. (Both have AIDS) His mother came to the meeting on Sunday, and they were reunited for the first time since he left. The joy of seeing one another was striking. These pictures don't nearly capture the reality.




Minh Phuong in deep discussion with Khanh.


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Our friends over at Smile Group, who we’ve worked with on a few of stories dealing with poverty and HIV in Vietnam, sent us another update on what they’ve been up to. In addition to moving two HIV-affected families into better homes in the past two weeks, they’ve also had time for education, awareness and some good old fun.

The first Sunday of each month, Smile Group meets in the park. Above, Tran takes her anti-retroviral medicine with considerably less complaining than usual–so she can get it over with and on to the games.

“We’re getting much more sophisticated with our sports teams. Colored jerseys for each team.” — Leslie Wiener.

Back to the office for lunch and a workshop on healthy food and taking medications correctly with pediatrician and AIDS specialist Dr. Tien. Dr. Tien also does a few on-the-spot consultations.

English class for the younger kids taught by Kim, Smile Group’s intern from the United States.

This past Smile Sunday, Smile Group also welcomed a new face: Khanh. Khanh was born with AIDS and is living in a very unhealthy, unstable environment. Before his first day with Smile Group, Khanh had never held a pen or pencil in his hand. Here, it looks like he’s got lots of helping hands.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Smile Group or making a donation, check out their website.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher