We don't just believe in traveling the world, but in supporting the communities we meet along the way. Throughout our years of traveling to beautiful Vietnam, we have made cultural connections that have shaped us. So for Travel Tuesday this week we want to draw attention to a charitable cause we hold dear.
Since first connecting in 2013, Sherpani has been a supporter of the VinaCapital Foundation. Nestled in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the VinaCapital Foundation (VCF) strives for equity in Vietnam by uplifting the country’s most marginalized communities. The foundation is home to seven key programs, each with a different focus. All their efforts aim to support financially disadvantaged women and children across the country.
One VCF program that Sherpani supports is Heartbeat Vietnam, which provides life-saving operations to Vietnamese children who were born with congenital heart defects. Another is the Brighter Path Scholarship, which we’d like to highlight today.
The Brighter Path Scholarship program works to identify and support academically talented ethnic minority girls who live at or below the national poverty line. These young women come from disadvantaged family backgrounds where older daughters often drop out of school to help raise younger siblings, work or even marry at a young age.
The Brighter Path Scholarship is changing this narrative by giving ethnic minority girls the chance to continue their education. As the name implies, Brighter Path is a scholarship awarded to young women with academic potential, supporting them through all of high school and university.
Access to higher education is a life-changing experience for young women across the globe. Experts like Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Jane Goodall have identified this as a key component for creating an equitable world (and ultimately, combating climate change). The longer a young woman stays in school, the more likely she is to become self-sufficient and thrive.
The scholarship’s reach goes beyond just the classroom. The program also offers after-school activities like soft skills mentoring, focusing on four knowledge gaps among ethnic minority girls: sexual and reproductive health, leadership skill-building, financial literacy and understanding legal rights.
While correcting each of these gaps is essential for the well-being of these women, the final one - understanding legal rights - is a pivotal piece of the Brighter Path puzzle. Children of all genders have a right to education under Vietnamese law. However, in order to claim this right, young women must first be made aware of it. With scholarship recipients who come from poverty and often live in rural areas of the country, they have little opportunity to learn about their right to education. The VinaCapital Foundation and Brighter Path Scholarship program work tirelessly to overcome the challenge of teaching ethnic minority girls that they have a legal right to stay in school.
The Brighter Path Scholarship program holds an annual event called the Dream Meeting, where scholarship recipients gather each summer and engage in workshops relevant to their personal and academic growth. This event empowers the recipients by increasing their self-esteem and providing resources and opportunities for education and personal development. In addition to furthering their education, these young women are joining a network of like-minded mentors and peers who will support them long after graduation.
How does Sherpani come into play?
Besides financial support, Sherpani donates products to the scholarship recipients, providing them with bags to take to school. The Brighter Path Scholarship program understands that a scholarship alone will only go so far. To truly support these young women, Brighter Path must go above and beyond to provide its recipients with all they need for academic success, including textbooks, supplies and a trusty bag to carry them. It warms us to know that the bright young women supported by the program carry Sherpani bags into their classrooms every day.
One of the challenges that the program must face is in supporting not only the scholarship recipients but also their families. As daughters stay in school for longer, their families need financial support to stay afloat, which the Brighter Path program aims to provide through donations. Donations are the backbone of all the great work that VCF does, and Sherpani will continue to support and encourage their donation efforts. These donations have a real impact, changing and saving lives through the boots-on-the-ground efforts of VCF’s seven key programs.
Don’t just take our word for it...
We’d like to elevate some of the voices of the forty-nine young women who are studying under Brighter Path Scholarships, currently in their third year of university. We are honored to share the following responses from scholarship recipients to this question: How has the Brighter Path Scholarship program impacted your life?
“Since I received the scholarship, my mom didn’t have to work day and night to pay for my school fee. From a shy girl, I have become an active, vibrant, and confident student. I used to think that I might never get the chance to visit a big city, but thanks to the Brighter Path scholarship, I was able to visit Da Nang and Hanoi for the first time and will undoubtedly have many more new experiences in the future.”
-Nong Thi Tiem, Academy of Finance
-Loc Thi Toan, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
“Over the past years, Brighter Path has been supporting me a lot on my path to study and reach my dream. With practical support and loving care, I have the motivation and confidence to strive for my dreams.”
-BNuoch Thi Diem, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh
“I am very grateful that VCF and VAD have united and coordinated to create Brighter Path and gave me the opportunity to receive a scholarship. This is a great opportunity for me to access quality training programs and change my perception. I have learned many new things, from financial and health knowledge to how to build relationships with people around me. Up to now, the impression of the first lesson about Thank You and Sorry has never faded from my mind. The program not only helps me improve my knowledge and skills, but also gives me the opportunity to learn and be inspired by many entrepreneurs and famous people. I have met and learned from experienced and talented people in many different fields, which has helped me develop myself and expand my knowledge. I also want to thank you for creating a very positive learning and knowledge exchange environment for us. The program team is always ready to help and support me in every situation. I really feel extremely lucky.”
-Le Thi Hieu, FPT Polytechnic College
“Brighter Path has supported us a lot financially, spiritually and intellectually during the past 6 years.”
-To Thi Nhu Y, Ton Duc Thang University
“I am grateful to the VinaCapital Foundation and Brighter Path team for accompanying me along the way. I am much more fortunate than my peers when I am one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship. Brighter Path has given me the opportunity to explore, exchange, and learn many things at a young age. I hope that even though my next journey might be difficult, the Brighter Path will still be there for me. It will be my big motivation to survive hardship and continue to push through.”
-Bui Thi Suong Nhi, The University of Da Nang – University of Science and Education
“For me, Brighter Path is my second home, where I am loved and love others. I feel very happy and grateful. I will try harder, be more independent, confident and mature to help you guys as well as look forward to becoming people like you, working and helping young people like us.”
-Shared in an anonymous survey
Reading the words of these young women has left us inspired and amazed. Sherpani is honored to play a role in supporting their education and setting them up for long-term success throughout their lives.
Would you like to contribute to this incredible cause? Make a donation to the Brighter Path Scholarship program today and help a young woman in Vietnam get closer to achieving her dream.
Sherpani proudly stands by the work of the VinaCaptial Foundation and we look forward to more years of collaboration and support.