In June 2011 this charity was created to connect Australians with one poor community in Vietnam. We have now widened our focus to identify needs in other village communities.

Each year, I take a motorbike across the length of Vietnam. I mainly visit orphanages, shelters and poorest households in remote communities. To make a needs assessment on the ground, we involve an informal network of local volunteer helpers. Together, we design useful projects, to get best value for money. Each financial year, this grass roots work is summarised in a report to donors. – Peter Kabaila

Our aim:

Work in partnership with orphanages and village communities in Vietnam, to achieve a better quality of life for all, with a focus on children with disabilities.


Where are the orphanages?

There are orphanages across Vietnam, some in remote and economically poor regions. An example in Quang Binh province is the orphanage in Huong Phuong. This is in a remote and poor area of Central Vietnam close to the former border between North and South Vietnam. This area saw some of the heaviest bombing of the Vietnam War. There are many birth defects and child disabilities in this area, probably relating to use of Agent Orange during the War.

Wheelchair bound disabled boy at the orphanage.

A convent was established in the village of Huong Phuong 300 years ago (1701).  Previously the nuns received disabled and destitute people for shelter at their mother-house in the village. Then in 2005, they obtained Australian donations and built an orphanage on Vietnamese government granted land about 5 minutes’ walk from the convent.

Who are at the orphanages?

As an example, the Huong Phuong Orphanage accommodates a population of up to 90 persons. Like other orphanages in Vietnam, it actually operates as a shelter for the socially excluded. Most are children with disabilities. Many disabled children are from farming or fishing families that can’t support them. The orphanage includes disabled infants, school-age orphans, single mothers and deaf/mute women. Most of the work at the orphanage is done by nuns who are from local subsistence rice farms.

How was this charity formed?

This charity was commenced by Dr Peter Kabaila, a Canberra based architect. Peter first travelled to Central Vietnam in December 2010 to volunteer supervision of building work at an orphanage. When he returned to Australia, Peter set up this charity as a vehicle to provide practical assistance to orphanages.

What makes this charity different?

We are a small, hands-on group that directly funds projects at the orphanage. Unlike bigger charities every cent going into the fund is taken to Vietnam and spent on direct assistance – no administration fee is taken out. Each contributor is invited to provide instructions on how they want their donation spent. Contributors are very welcome to visit and stay at the orphanage and experience life in the monastic community for themselves.

Many charitable groups don’t manage their projects. They simply fund-raise, then hand money over for village communities to spend. This results in leakage and diversion of funds. We are NOT primarily a fund-raising group, but a “hands on get things done” group. Our main concern is to make sure that every development project respects the intentions of donors by careful design, good recording, tracking in progress and satisfactory completion.

Child suffering from a rare skin condition.

Who is on the Board?

The Board of the Charity consists of the following unpaid persons:

* Julie Kulikowski, President. Julie is a social worker and bereavement counsellor at a palliative care hospice.
* Dennis McManus – PSM BA (Syd), Dip T&C Planning, M Built Env. Vice President. Dennis had a 40 year career in town planning and heritage conservation with the NSW government. He is an important financial contributor to our charity.
* Dr Peter Kabaila, Secretary. Peter is a building designer, archaeologist, published author and heritage advisor to several NSW shire councils. He runs a home-based heritage consultancy from Canberra called Black Mountain Projects.
* Clive West. Board member. Clive lives in Berrima, NSW and is a retired senior Commonwealth Public Service lawyer. Clive is a key financial contributor to our charity.
* Geoff Stannard. Geoff works for Australian Government. He volunteers in many local charities. Geoff is a key financial contributor to our charity.


How does this charity work?

The key features of this charity are:

* An Australian registered charity formed in 2011, endorsed by ATO, with no admin costs/commissions.
* Operated by a Board of Australian and Vietnamese-Australian volunteers.
* Provides education and good project management (rather than just fund raising) through local village project partners.
* Provides a contact point for volunteers, who privately fund their own travel.
* Donors can nominate how they wish to have their money spent.
* Every dollar raised goes to Vietnam projects. This is in contrast to larger charities which spend up to 30% on fund raising, reporting and administration.
* Does not have tax-deductibility as the reporting costs are too high for a small charity.
* Projects are secured by signed funding agreements, conditional on staged, satisfactory completion of each project.

Read Thuy’s story in Volunteer/Blogs

What projects have we completed?

A diverse range of projects, including sponsoring indigenous and disabled students, women studying nursing and disability care, family income projects, village water supply and study materials for orphanages.

What happens next?

When you next travel to Vietnam, contact us with your solutions to child and female disadvantage.  Or contact us to volunteer.

Nuts and bolts. The machinery works like this…

* General Meetings:
For general meetings, our board meets over an Asian meal.  The secretary writes the minutes.
* Activities of committee members:
Every board member helps, advises, donates and organises as much as they have time for. All board members are or have been financial donors.
* Reporting to government:
Friends of Vietnam Orphanages Inc is an association registered with ACT Dept of Regulatory Services. Our rules are the standard rules (“model rules” for associations).  Inquiries come to the Public Officer who also maintains a list of members.  At the end of each financial year the secretary sends out an annual report.
 * Bank account:
We use a bank account which is a “Society Account” (no fees). Any withdrawal requires more than one authorised signatory in person. It cannot be done electronically.
 * Financial records:
Each year’s financial books show every dollar that was donated and what was sent to Vietnam. Books are audited.
* Tax:
We have ATO recognition as a Charitable Institution. We are exempt from requirements to lodge a tax return or pay tax or pay GST.
* Reporting to donors:
Each year a report is emailed to donors showing how every donated dollar was spent.
* Our guarantee:
Every cent of every donated dollar goes to Vietnam for assistance projects. No exceptions. That keeps money matters simple. Your donations are not wasted on fundraising or administration. Any operating costs are paid by board members.  Anyone volunteering in Vietnam pays their own costs.

Please support this worthwhile work: