The Waldorf kindergartens in Vietnam
Vietnam: In and around Ho-Chi-Minh City there are three Waldorf kindergartens. They are supported by the Australian organisation Vietnam's Children Project. The Dieu Giac Kindergarten was the first to begin in 2002 with 30 children. Thanh Lan followed one year later and the Tho Trang Childcare Centre opened its doors in 2006.
One morning a little girl of about 6 months was found lying on the doorstep of the orphanage run by a nun, Nhu Tri, near a Buddhist temple. When the child was diagnosed with a cardiac defect, Nhu Tri didn’t give up until she had convinced the surgeon to operate on her. The operation was paid by installments.
Many children have been found lying on the doorstep or have been brought to the orphanage by somebody. The three young women who run the Dieu Giac Kindergarten also grew up in the orphanage and were looked after by Nhu Tri. When Thanh Cherry, a Vietnamese woman living in Australia, wanted to open a Waldorf kindergarten, but was prevented from finding a property by the authorities, Nhu Tri offered her a building next to her orphanage. Once the kindergarten had gotten going, there were 30 children; 10 from the orphanage and 20 from poor families in the surrounding area.
The Thanh Lan kindergarten has three groups and a total of 78 children. A sad event showed how much they love their kindergarten. When the Thanh Lan kindergarten had to close for a few weeks due to a fatal case of swine flu, the children were divided up amongst other institutions. On the day that the kindergarten reopened the teachers saw a moving sight: a sea of overjoyed faces.
The Tho Trang Childcare Centre has a dramatic history. A long struggle with the authorities precluded the opening of the kindergarten. Then a child at another kindergarten in the same district fell on the playground and died. The reaction of the authorities was to forbid all toys that were not made of plastic, including dolls made of material, for safety reasons.
The kindergarten staff decided to close the kindergarten, because they would have lost the very basis of their work if they had had to replace all their toys with plastic. The kindergarten had to be reregistered and moved to another part of the city. They started again with five children and slowly new children are coming, so that they see hope for the future.
The many courageous people who work in the kindergartens have done the Waldorf kindergarten training or are busy doing so. Some receive bursaries from the Friends of Waldorf Education and others receive help from other donors. To this day many children can only attend the Waldorf kindergartens, because people sponsor them.