Title: Toy Library for Children of Hoi An, Vietnam
Ananda Foundation awarded a grant to the Degenhardt Foundation for the development of a toy library for 100 children of Hoi An.
Hoi An is located on the mid coast close to Danang. It is a beautiful area, where the famous Marble Mountains meet the sea. It is a historical town, being the oldest in Vietnam. The old town has limited traffic and has been turned into a historical district recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Degenhardt Foundation, a US nonprofit that has experience working with children and families in Vietnam for 25+ years and started with a small library of books. They were approached with the idea of building a toy library.
The Hoi An libraries are truly unique being the first free public library in the region and the only toy library in the country.
Dawn Degenhardt, executive director of the Degenhardt Foundation writes: I have watched Hoi An turned into a tourist attraction over the past fifteen years - it is one of my favorite places. We have been involved with the local orphanage and Street Children's Center for many years and have done many projects for both. The libraries are located within walking distance from both organizations so the kids walk and bike over after school, on the weekends, and during the summer. The libraries have turned into community center for the kids.
A lot of the poor local children and families make the center a home away from home. The orphanage has over 100 children and the Street Children's Center has about 50 kids. There are so many local children living in the poorest conditions that now have bikes to get to the Street Children’s Center, (through a give a bike to get a child to school campaign and school sponsorship program).
It not only provides the books and educational toys to be taken home to share with their families - it provides English classes, arts and crafts and computer instruction. There are computers available for the kids to use. Several volunteers throughout the year support staffs of both at the orphanage and the Street Children’s Center. Volunteers can go to Hoi An and stay for a week, a month or for as long as they like and work at the libraries. It is amazing how many people this library helps and touches.