Since it’s creation in 2010 from the ambitious vision to help release some of Vietnam’s poorest children from the devastating cycle of poverty through education, the Lifestart Foundation Secondary School Education Scholarship Program has, and continues to be, a resounding success.

The incredible generosity of donors, huge amounts of hard work from the students and the continuing dedication and commitment of the Lifestart Foundation team of volunteers and staff, both in Vietnam and around the world, has allowed some children to complete their secondary education, keeping the possibility of a happy and prosperous future alive.

It’s almost impossible to articulate what this means to the children, their families and the community as a whole. To know there is hope for the poorest of the community can be a huge motivation even for those who Lifestart Foundation’s funds cannot currently reach.

By giving opportunity to others, it doesn’t only help them directly (in this case through an education); it shows them the kindness even strangers can offer; a very powerful gift and one that often encourages others to replicate the kindness they receive.

Sometimes their situations can seem hopeless as they drown in a world of uncertainty whilst living through the day-to-day struggles of living below the poverty line, their families often struggling with illness or disability, forcing them to grow up too soon.

The Secondary School Educational Scholarship Program has released some families from this suffocating reality, providing them with the opportunity of greater security and a happy future.

This year we’ve witnessed the incredible achievement of three Lifestart Foundation Secondary School Scholarship students beating adversity caused by their incredibly difficult starts. They have now received  their results and have successfully graduated from secondary school and have also been accepted into the University degrees of their dreams with the goal of achieving a better life for them and their families.

So a huge congratulations to Tu who aspires to be a maths teacher, Hien who wishes to become a doctor and Nguyet who dreams of studying marketing.

Their scholarships gave them a chance but the outcome will be down to their hard work and dedication. These are big goals to have for children from their backgrounds and ones they wouldn’t have thought possible prior to receiving their scholarships.

Six other Lifestart Foundation Scholarship students have shown it certainly is possible to achieve their dreams when provided with support. We are very excited to report four are about to enter the second year of their degree courses while two have graduated from university, one as an architect and the other as a doctor. This is a huge achievement for all involved in their journey so far.

These young adults are now empowered to take control of their own lives and have the opportunity to truly break the poverty cycle at the completion of their degrees when they gain employment in their chosen fields,  something very few with their backgrounds are able to do. Their parents now know their children’s futures are secure, something valued most in Vietnamese society. We would like to share two of these stories with you.

Tu’s Story

Tu on a vist to Lifestart Foundation


Tu is a young man living with his family 4km from Hoi An. His mother works incredibly hard selling fish at the market despite suffering with mental illness and other health problems, whilst his father works as a builder and his brother faces unemployment.

Despite their hard work, the family’s income is only $100 a month giving a daily budget of $3 a day for 4 people to survive. Tu’s Lifestart Foundation Secondary School Education Scholarship provided huge relief to the family who no longer needed to worry about school costs and were able to reallocate money to much needed food and medication.

The scholarship also allowed Tu to attend the expensive extra classes necessary to complete his education, giving hope and confidence for the future. Tu says ‘without a Lifestart Foundation Secondary Scholarship I would not have finished year 11’.

He has always wanted to be a teacher to educate and inspire a younger generation, particularly children from more remote areas. As Maths is his strongest subject, he now hopes to complete a  four year Bachelor of Mathematics and IT degree at The University of Science in Hue, something he wouldn’t have dared to dream of before receiving his scholarship.

Buying books on an education scholarship day out

Buying books during an education scholarship day out

Tu has worked incredibly hard to be in a position to go to university and although the scholarship has supported the family, he has still had to balance his studies with helping at home where, as a self proclaimed ‘good cook’, he makes their meals every day and washes all their clothes.

As Tu’s scholarship finished at the end of his secondary education we are currently looking for support to help fund his university education. Any financial help he receives will have the potential to help not only Tu, but also any children he teaches from remote areas in the future.

In order to pursue his dream of becoming a maths teacher Tu will need to live away from home to attend university in Hue. The annual cost for his complete tuition fees, books, health and accident insurance, food and room rental is $1,500 Aud.

Can you help Tu? We are looking for a team of three sponsors who are willing to donate $500 per year each for the next four years to help Tu complete his degree.  If you would like to be part of “TEAM TU” please contact us as soon as possible as Tu’s University year commences September 2014.

This is an incredible opportunity to help a brave, courageous and compassionate young man continue to beat the odds and reach his potential and realise his dreams, allowing him to support himself and his family in the future. If you would like to learn more please read here

Khanh’s Story


Khanh is a member of a family very dear to Lifestart Foundation’s heart. In 2000 founding director, Karen Leonard, entered their lives when asked to help his family.

Living in a make shift building with coconut leaves for a roof, the family were in dire need of help. The poorest family in the village, his father worked incredibly hard to earn money for the whole family while his mother looked after his younger sister Ngoc who has severe cerebral palsy and is currently treated at the Lifestart Foundation Free Disability Community Centre.

To read more about Ngoc story please read here Despite such a difficult childhood, Khanh has always been an incredibly devoted and loving older brother and son, doing anything possible to support them and will likely become Ngoc’s sole carer in the future.

Always a very bright student, Khanh has received a Lifestart Foundation Secondary School Education Scholarship since the age of thirteen, helping this intelligent but extremely underprivileged young man continue to work incredibly hard and complete his secondary education whilst helping at home.

Further sponsorship from a Lifestart Foundation supporters allowed Khanh to continue to follow his dreams, studying architecture at Da Nang University. After graduating he was incredibly excited and proud to be offered a position with a Japanese construction company in Da Nang, close enough for regular visits home to visit his sister who misses him dearly and the rest of his family.

A special moment he never thought was possible.

He is extremely happy to have secured the job of his dreams saying ‘all the hard work paid off’ and ‘without his Lifestart Foundation Scholarship this would not have been possible’.

His success will lift a huge weight from his and his family’s shoulders, giving him countless more opportunities than he could have ever dreamed of, allowing him to lead a comfortable life above the poverty line while supporting his family to do the same.

On-going support from Lifestart Foundation supporters provides the support for young gifted and hard working individuals living in extremely difficult situations such as Khanh reach their dreams.

For many of our students now completing the last few years of their secondary educations, their scholarships will soon run out. Therefore, any who wish to continue their education will need to find further support to keep their dreams alive.

If you would like to help them complete their educational journey please see here for more information on our Educational Scholarship Program.

Lifestart Foundation has recently launched a new project “Leaders 4 Life “ If you are a teacher, school principal, student or parent who is interested in connecting young people from developed countries with students from developing countries. This is a great project to get you started. Check it out now! Click here >

Lots of Love from Karen.

If you happen to be in Hoi An, Viet Nam, visit us at:

Lifestart Foundation Workshop

14 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An, Vietnam

Read the following blog about A who has now graduated from Hue Medical School and has taken up a position at the Danang Womens and Childrens Hospital. Following closely in A’s footsteps is his younger brother Be, who is currently completing 2nd year Medicine on a Lifestart Foundation Education Scholarship also at Hue University.

A-Realising his dream to become a doctor

All past Education Blogs click here >

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