Adapted from Architect Pham Dinh Quy: An honored "teacher," 5 years, nine rounds of the earth, and more than 100 highland schools
Each year, IEG Foundation commits to rebuilding one public school governed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and is located in remote areas across Vietnam.
We partnered with Mr. Pham Dinh Quy and his team to provide less privileged children with adequate learning facilities, starting from a stable school that can endure extreme weather conditions. Our existing sources of financial support consist of internal personnel of IEG Global, individual donors, and organization donors with legal entities registered in Vietnam or overseas.
Each school rebuilt is a promise for every child's potential to be nurtured and flourished. These schools were initially just rundown bamboo structures, where raindrops were leaking through the roof or bitterly cold wind slipping through the wall and doors. Witnessing the harsh conditions under which our deprived children have to study, we believe that transforming these schools' facilities should be our utmost priority, which can further increase access to education on a broader scale. Today, we will tell the story about our trusted architect, Mr. Pham Dinh Quy, and his journey to rebuild many dreams for our less privileged children.
Picture 1. Mr. Pham Dinh Quy at the Groundbreaking of Pu Hong Kindergarten School
Pham Dinh Quy used to be a director of a construction company. As he navigated through his bankruptcy in 2006, he found his ultimate philanthropic purpose: rebuilding schools in deprived areas. Over the last five years, Mr. Quy has been able to crowdfund and rebuild 100+ public schools in rural areas across the country, from the highlands of Son La to the Mekong River Delta area. With the contribution of donors, including IEG Foundation, he has brought many dreams into reality and help many children access quality education in adequate facilities.
Recalling the fate that led him to become a "full-time" volunteer school engineer, Mr. Quy said: "It all started when I went to Muong Lat to donate clothing for ethnic kids. That day, when it rained heavily, I passed their rundown boarding house in the middle of the mountains. I almost forgot what I was supposed to do there, and just stood there thinking as time passed. These children live very far away from the school, and in order to get to school, they have to pass dangerous terrains. If they want to study, they have to live in this boarding house.
But how can they even live, not to mention learn, in this dilapidated condition?"
Picture 2. A sample condition of a public school before Mr. Quy initiated the rebuilding
Mr. Quy always regards his first school in Muong Lat as a significant milestone in his life, a lasting impression he will never forget. After he finished the construction for Muong Lat, with some extra money left from prior donations, he built the second and third schools for students in highland provinces.
Up until now, he has been rebuilding schools for more than five years, with 105+ completed projects and many more to come.
"It is challenging to build a solid house on the mountain. The mountain slope is incredibly steep, almost slanting at a 90 degree. Added to that, when the metal truck approaches the school location, the bridge breaks in half. Thankfully, the locals and teachers heard the news and decided to help me. They volunteered to manually transport each brick, each bag of cement to the construction site.
Over the months, I was able to crowdfund 670 million VND. With that amount of money, we decided to build four more rooms, a semi-boarding house, a new kitchen, a toilet, a water tank, and a playground.” - Mr. Quy shared about his first attempt to rebuild broken down schools.
Picture 3. The first school site that was fully funded to be rebuilt by IEG Foundation in 2018. Ha Giang.
In 2016, when the project has passed its beginning phase, Mr. Quy and his team were determined to rebuild 26 schools in the Central and South-Central regions at the same time. There were many difficulties to consider, from calling for donations to supervising construction in 26 campuses simultaneously. Then obstacles accumulated as he began to work on the construction task. At that time, the weather was not favorable, which was filled with heavy storms. Since most of the schools have inadequate facilities and were built from bamboos, they could not sustain extreme weather conditions. Mr. Quy had to hold down the roof from flying and endured the storms for a couple of days. Luckily, none of the school sites suffered heavy losses.
After days of working on end, the night he finishes construction, Mr. Quy saw the new house lit up in the middle of the deep green forest. There stood a stable school, where children’s hopes and dreams will be realized.
Picture 4. This school site was renovated by IEG Foundation in 2019. Dien Bien.
Mr. Quy shared his vision in the future and his motivation to keep building schools for charity purposes:
I want to build schools that can meet the fundamental requirements of safety so that the children can go there, be carefree about those matters, and enjoy learning. Apparently, it cannot be guaranteed if accessing the schooling education can promise their wealthy future with some annual 9-digit income. However, at least they can take care of themselves with proper awareness and knowledge of health and hygiene.
During my onsite research trips, I've seen so many children eating sweets and ice-cream with high levels of unhealthy chemicals, sleeping without any mosquito nets, and so on. There are cases of health issues that could have been prevented if more students had access to the importance of health and hygiene.
Thus, school building is my approach to helping those children.”
Learn more about IEG Foundation school rebuilding project and how to support here.