Spring 2014
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Investing in Hope for impoverished children in Vietnam who are going to school because of you.

Interested in sponsoring one of our kids? For more information go to:

Spring 2014

From the Executive Director

Running a non-profit is uniquely challenging, but doing the hard work that it takes to be effective becomes easier when you see firsthand the positive impact that is being made at very personal levels. 

My recent and first trip to Anh Linh Free School in HCMC provided me this experience.  What I learned gives me great comfort in saying, without equivocation, that remarkable work is being accomplished at Anh Linh School.  The children of all grades are greatly benefitting from the school’s tutelage and Bridges to Learning’s support is instrumental.  I did not just observe but I participated.  For this intimate introduction to the children, the classrooms and the children’s homes, I have to thank Kim Ngoc, the school’s principal and Jerri Hirsch, Bridges to Learning’s founder and my traveling partner.  Jerri’s mentorship on this trip was invaluable to me.

Even though we accomplished much outside the school walls, the insights I gained from talking to the children, the staff and Kim Ngoc, have led to my observations set out below:

•    The children, all 231 through grades 9, are, with few exceptions, happy and vibrant.  They love their time at the school and are nourished beyond the meals they receive and the uniforms they wear.  Their lives at the school are in dire contrast to their out of school lives.  My visits to several living spaces made even clearer to me why they love their home at the school so much.  Most importantly I sensed in many of the older children the beginnings of personal goal setting.  The tug for many of the children to go back to the streets is strong causing some to leave each year but the school works hard to reinforce the need to continue their education to help build their dreams.


•    The funding that Bridges to Learning sends to Anh Linh is used carefully and smartly.  Every dollar is leveraged in creative ways to secure the needed goods to feed, clothe and educate the children.  A dollar really does make a difference.  Much more needs to be done however, in securing more educational materials, curriculum advancement help, vocational training and staff support. 


•    The funding that Bridges to Learning sends to Anh Linh is used carefully and smartly.  Every dollar is leveraged in creative ways to secure the needed goods to feed, clothe and educate the children.  A dollar really does make a difference.  Much more needs to be done however, in securing more educational materials, curriculum advancement help, vocational training and staff support. 


•    Anh Linh School has had hundreds of students that have gone on to state secondary schools/high schools and of those many have received scholarships funded by Anh Linh. These students would not be able to proceed with their education without this help.  Bridges to Learning has played an important role in providing funding to Anh Linh for the scholarship program.  This program is very important and will be one of Bridges to Learning priorities in the future.

With the goal of broadening Anh Linh’s recognition among other large NGOs with similar missions, we met with several organizations in Hanoi and HCMC to tell our story.  We gained the attention of three very influential organizations with worldwide scope—Save the Children/ Vietnam, Plan in Vietnam and Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.  All have committed to visit Anh Linh in the coming months to learn how they might help in providing materials and training in areas ranging from teacher training and curriculum improvement to vocational programs.  This was an important achievement, as partnering with larger organizations with similar missions is one of our goals for the future.

In conclusion, I must add that being in Vietnam the week before the TET Holidays added color, frenzy and excitement to the trip.  The most endearing TET event was the TET Program put on by the children at Anh Linh School.  It was very special, with 9th grade girls partnering with the little boys in song and dance.  The dance that was prepared for Jerri and me was orchestrated to the song “Heal the World”.  It started off with the sounds of war in the background and then moving to the children dancing and singing the words to “Heal the World”.  

This Tet production was put on for us and Bridges to Learning to acknowledge the seeds of hope that we offer the kids through Anh Linh School.

     -Robert Pitner

From our Founder

The students at Anh Linh Free School live with the pressures of poverty that undeniably affect their chances of success in life.  Bridges to Learning helps Anh Linh provide the support, values and educational foundation to withstand those pressures and build a life to be proud of. No matter how long or short a time a child is at Anh Linh, he/she is influenced in positive ways that will be with them their whole lives.  As sponsors and donors we may not get to see how this influence affects each child, but it is surely there.

When Robert and I visited Anh Linh in January this year, we had a chance to visit with four young people who had been students at Anh Linh and are now launched into young adult lives. It was a joy to listen to their stories of hard work, persistence and dreams.   Here is one of them.

Trong is a 20 year old young man who left Anh Linh after 4th grade.  He wandered the streets for some time, coming back to Anh Linh periodically to see the teachers and sisters.  He was a good kid, who was kind of lost and alone but didn’t have the family support to stay in school. After a while he attached himself to a neighbor who was a hair dresser. After some time of informal apprenticeship it became clear that Trong was smart and wanted to be a hairstylist.  His mentor helped him get into and graduate from a beauty school. Now they work together in the neighbor’s shop,  

Not only does Trong work as a professional hair stylist he, with some of his stylist friends, comes to Anh Linh once a month to cut and style the hair of the students, teachers and sisters!  He donates a long day of work to help make everyone feel good about how they look. 

Trong said that Anh Linh laid the foundation for his life by helping him learn to read and write and do arithmetic, which he uses every day in his job.  The sisters and teachers were kind and encouraged him even after he left school.   He says his parents are proud of him.  It’s obvious he is proud of himself and is proud to give back to the school which helped change his life. 

His dream?   To own his own beauty shop and help his family. 


     -Jerilyn Hirsch


What does it mean to be a sponsor?  For $42 a month, you will provide your child:
  • The opportunity to learn --classes of state accredited curriculum
  • Books, supplies, computer instruction and English
  • Two new uniforms a year
  • Breakfast snack and lunch every day
  • Haircuts every month
  • Special activities (day of camping, trip to the zoo, museum or park, special projects)
  • Games, friends, and support
  • Love and safety 
And the most important thing the sponsor's support does for a child is to let them know that someone out there cares about them!

We are so happy to be Tham’s sponsors.  She is a delightful child who is beginning her education at Anh Linh.  It was so heartwarming to see her smile when we met her and the entire time we spent with her.

We are doing this because we feel it is very important to help educate girls in all cultures so they can become more self-sufficient. It is a step we can take to help implement change in the world. These children are our future, and we think it is important to invest in our future.

     -Jo Leir and Kay Quam, Reston, VA


The 2014 Bridges to Learning Gala will be held at the Westin Edina Galleria, Friday, October 3rd.   Put this date on your calendar!



Bringing hope to impoverished kids in Vietnam

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