Vietnam News, 17 September 2015, Help for Quang Nam’s needy by Le Huong.

An edited extract of the original article appears below.

Hundreds of needy people in the central province of Quang Nam have received support from the Lifestart Foundation [an AusCham Member] run by Australian Karen Leonard.

For the past 15 years, Leonard has been working actively to raise funds in Australia for the poor people in this province to support their vocational training, health services, as well as their accommodation and education, to help improve their lives.

Before visiting Viet Nam as a tourist in 2000, Leonard ran a small private music school in Mel-bourne, Australia.

During her trip to Viet Nam, she met four small street children and their families. All of them were intelligent, but what upset her was the fact that they had already quit school.

Leonard soon encouraged them to return to school and paid for their education.

After returning home from her first trip and deeply affected by the plight of these people, Leonard made a commitment that she would return to Viet Nam and support these boys and many others like them.

At that year’s Christmas party, she suggested that instead of buying the usual obligatory Christmas presents, everyone should put into a hat the amount of money they would normally spend on a present. The idea was wholeheartedly embraced by her family and friends and so began Leonard’s Lifestart Foundation journey with AU$400.

However, as word got around, friends and family continued to donate more money to help children and families in Viet Nam…

There is no typical day as anyone can see her in a government meeting, or interviewing potential education scholarship students. Sometimes she is in her workshop with the workers, or visiting her free rehabilitation centre and outreach projects, or even visiting sites where houses are being built for poor families…

 

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