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The WWW is no longer out of our reach

I started my first project in autumn 2006. It was called the Autumn Smile where 400 children from orphanages came to enjoy the festival night. At that time, fundraising simply based on mouth-to-mouth method from groups to groups. The following year in autumn 2007, I received a big fund support from an online forum and I organized everything the same with bigger size of 700 children.

Lesson No.1: Online forum is an effective channel to call for fund. The project has succeeded in growing that fast. Doubled size, doubled budget.

The outcome turned out to be disappointing. My event was full of the forum members and they came to take pictures with the children like those pitiful kids were display dolls for them. The children did not feel happy as much as before. Some orphanages refused to join the year after.

Lesson No.2: Don’t freely receive the money just because you are in need of money. You must know what you should expect from that support.

I dropped this project idea but it was still carried on for several years afterwards, big size and poor result. I graduated from the university, started to work for a multi-national IT company. My life has crossed a remarkable line from this point. Although I worked for Human Resources Department but I had the chance to learn a lot about high-tech world. At the meanwhile, I volunteered to be the coordinator for a Netherlands organization in Vietnam. Two years working with them has given me so many precious lessons. I read online books from my company’s library (Skillport) about what we can do for the poor people. And I found out my new purpose.

Lesson No.3: Give them a fish – Give them a fishing rod – Teach them how to do fishing – Give them the chance to learn fishing.

Love Fund (Vietnamese name: Quỹ Yêu Thương) was founded in 2010, a combination of two small funds called Milk Fund and School Fund, using Facebook Page as the communication channel. The fund had such a successful year that exceeded all our expectation. But only at that time, I realized that I always had to manually summarize and type down each case. The images and scanned letters from the children were scattered. There was no way to get the whole information about a case in a convenient place.

In 2011, Love Fund started to have the page http://www.quyyeuthuong.wordpress.com as its official database for nearly 100 cases. The donators could easily find their supported children with the whole information in one thread. It’s also very easy to search for all cases in a particular area. Everyone was so happy with the improvement. The fund grew significantly in both quantity and quality.

Lesson No.4: Social network is not for chatting and gossip only. If we know how to use it, it works like a charm.

But again, I got into difficulties in 2012. The database was getting bigger and more complicated to handle. The number of files increased, new areas was added, the sponsorship changed every year. We had to open each thread to add new study records, update situations… After a semester, I had to do many reports separately which took a lot of time and effort. At the same time, I faced the crisis of lacking volunteer members.

Lesson No.5: The world is changing every day. We have to go forward and forward, improve and improve. Otherwise, we will fall behind.

In 2013, I worked with my core team to build up a more efficient webpage linked with file database. Although not done yet, our new website at http://www.quyyeuthuong.org has proved its voice. All I have to do is updating every piece of information in one database which is directly linked to the website. Donators and sponsors can filter everything they want to know on the website. And I can generate some frequent reports from the database with just one click.

Now we have a small operation fund from some close donators to maintain the trip expenses and domain. It’s three years, more than 10 children has finished their high schools and entered universities. Many more new faces have joined every year. But now I strongly believe that I can keep the fund going while improving our website and database.

Lesson No.(n+1): Dream high. Then do it with all your heart and mind. There is nothing impossible. Even a low-tech woman can make something really high-tech happen for her fund. You can do it as well!

I had never expected that the internet and high-tech tools would be this helpful to my fund. I still feel it’s like a miracle that it’s no longer out of our reach.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

Comments

Lea's picture

Wonderful essay, Tram! I

Wonderful essay, Tram! I really liked how you describe the process of creating this platform for funds and connecting people with donators and/ orphanages.
I completely agree with you that it's all about taking risks and trial and error. You don't learn until you test your product or idea.
Not everything works the first time, but the key thing is-and you are a great example of that-to never give up and keep making attempts until you are able to reach your goals.
You're making a very big difference in the lives of many people and children and it's really heartening to read about your desire early on to help your community and give hope to the many children who are in need of education and support.
I'm sure that some time soon you your fund will expand and will be instrumental in the lives of many.
Keep up the great work!
Lea

Tram Le's picture

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your comment and message, Lea! It's very encouraging to me. Let's keep in touch and meet up one day in Vietnam :-) And of course, you are welcomed to Love Fund group <3
Tram.

amymorros's picture

In your reach

Congratulations! I like how you clearly told us the lessons that you have learned and the evolution of your organization and how you have better reached out to people over the years.

I often think that I learn the most when I am forced to take risks and even if I do not have the experience on paper, I still have the skills to learn from doing- that is, experiential learning.

I wish you luck as your further expand your organization and help the orphans of your country.

Amy
@amyinstl

Tram Le's picture

Thank you, Amy. Yes, it is

Thank you, Amy. Yes, it is experiential learning.

I realize that before I take a risk, I would plan very carefully (I love to do planning), but always be eager to see if there's any surprise happens. And I enjoyed the ways I solved the unexpected matters even more than the planning work.

To keep this work for many years, I think money is not the most important thing. We must keep our belief first. And all caring and encouraging like this would strongly help to keep our passion.

Thanks again, Amy.

Dear Tram,

Thank you for your article that clearly states the lessons you have learned and how you have used technology to further your work on behalf of orphans. I loved the way you laid it out so honestly. I recently read an article that talked about the high percentage of money that is being raised via phones and the internet. It is astounding and is causing all non-profits to rethink how they are raising money to support their causes.

I particularly appreciated lessons #2 and #3. Chasing the money for the sake of money can really pull you off mission and lead to outcomes that are not aligned with your purpose. Simply giving handouts never empowers others and actually perpetuates power imbalance and dependence.

Your last lesson about dreaming high and doing it with all of your heart and mind is really a crucial lesson for all of us these days. Thank you for reminding us of that. It is so easy to focus on the obstacles and the reasons why we can't rather than committing to our dreams and staying the course, no matter what.

You are a blessing to the world. Please keep it up!

Bheki

Tram Le's picture

Thanks a lot, Bheki. After

Thanks a lot, Bheki.
After all those years, I have realized that even the very sad lessons could be so helpful.
So happy to read your encouragement, Bheki.

Tram Le's picture

...

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binapatel33's picture

Great Job

What a great story and thank you for sharing this story with us. I am proud of your hard work and dedication!

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

Tram Le's picture

Thank you, Bina. It's still a

Thank you, Bina. It's still a long way to go and all your encouragement is a great support to me :-)

Of course it's easier to look back and with a different perspective make better decisions. There's lessons everywhere if we acknowledge that that's how we grow and overcome.

Tram Le's picture

Sure :-) Thank you for your

Sure :-) Thank you for your reading and caring.

BAJIRA CHISHUBA's picture

votre article

Bonjour tous, je viens de vous lire en commentaire sur ce que vous partagez en rapport avec votre activités.
Tu es une femme extra-ordinaire, ton article me revelle beaucoup de choses à l'esprit, quand vous parlez que votre activité c'est l'orphelinat, je comprend le degrés et le volume de la tache, que vous portez au dos et dans votre coeur c'est bien, et soyez bénit, pensez à d'autres orphelinats
Merci et à plus

bajira

Tram Le's picture

Thank you, Bajira. And thanks

Thank you, Bajira. And thanks to the high-tech world (Google translate), I can read your comment even if you didn't send the private message to me. Let's keep in touch via email :-)

I love the way you have laid out your efforts, the results, and the lessons learned in your article. I know many of our World Pulse sisters will learn a lot from what you have shared in your excellent post. Keep up the terrific work!

Tram Le's picture

Thank you for your

Thank you for your encouragement, Hanasazi. I also learn a lot of things from our World Pulse sisters here :-)

hanasazi's picture

There is so much to learn

There is so much to learn from each other - there are so many awesome, creative thinkers here at World Pulse! And you're one of them...Nice work!

Naeroka's picture

Amazing

Your work with children and orphanages is inspiring. I was reading your article and finding myself more and more impressed by all that you're doing. I found your anecdote about the detrimental effects of pity especially insightful. This is an issue that a lot of people remain ignorant of-- even if they have good intentions.

My question for you is this: What was your biggest obstacle in creating your website and navigating the digital world?

Tram Le's picture

My biggest obstacles

Thanks a lot for your comment, Naeroka. And I love your question so much as it showed your real caring.

My biggest obstacle in creating my website and navigating the digital world is the balance between budget and output. There are many functions I want to put into my website and the file database but I don't have much money to hire a professional guy to do that. In fact, I only bought the domain name and got a deal to use a shared server with another start-up partner. Then I and my core team have to do everything by ourselves. This will lead to another big challenge that if the system we are using now is not good enough, we may have to change to another one in the future and the data integration will be very complicated for us.

Please feel free to share more if you have any ideas :-)

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