Bình Huỳnh

Project Director Bentre SOS Children's Villages in Vietnam

Teach a man to fish not to give him fish

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Today I would like to tell you the story about the poor young people without parental care who strive to overcome their difficulties, to work and learn harder with the main target to get better in their life thanks to support programmes of the SOS Children’s Villages organisation: SOS vocational workshops and family strengthening programmes. Their good life has made my work more meaningful.

SOS Children's Village Bentre in Vietnam has operated since 1999. In the first phase, we had to survey the situation and get a lot of young children under 9 years old into our families. Our SOS mothers and I, at that time, were middle-aged and eager for new jobs. We were all busy taking care of children. In our village there was always bustling laughter. Then, the children in our care grew up and went out to study far away. We then conducted a child rights situation analysis to find out who would be at highest risk of losing parental care and should thus be placed in our village and we also conducted other surveys to admit them in our homes.

In this phase there was one problem in the process of surveying children in remote areas that we noticed less in the past. We had met the unfortunate children without parental care also but we could not get them into the village. The reason was that they were not matching the admission criteria which said: no children older than 9 years old.

After careful consideration, we decided to report these cases to SOS leadership although it was not included in the funding programme of the organisation at that time, and then we helped the SOS leaders meet the very poor children mentioned above. 

Fortunately for them, in 2008, Bentre’s needs were met by the organisation’s funding support for activities of the small-sized vocational training workshop. The aim of this workshop is to help poor young people who cannot afford to study in high school. After one year, the young people can do simple things related to electricity, running water, welding and carpentry in a household. The SOS vocational workshop in Bentre has taught 92 learners, including 7 children from the SOS Children’s Village for more than 7 years. After finishing the course, these learners can start their own business.

Later, in 2011, family strenghtening was also carried out in Bentre. Every year, the Vietnam government and our organisation share 50/50 percent of 200 30-USD monthly grants for poor children at risk of dropping out of their studies due to poverty  or being orphans. Similar to the workshop, family strenghtening also is very practical and effective. Since 2011, this programme has helped 275 children regularly. 55 children from the support of the programme have become good students in their class, and 2 children have gotten into university, still receiving monthly financial support.

Once checking the SOS Workshop, our SOS leaderships fully agreed with the workshop activities, under the motto: "TEACH A MAN TO FISH, NOT TO GIVE  HIM FISH."

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the SOS Children’s Village Bentre, many guests and I cried with happiness to hear young people say: "if there was no SOS Children’s Villages, we would not be sitting in the lecture hall in university and might have fallen into a vicious cycle of poverty again!"

In general, the SOS vocational workshop and family strenthening have met very practical requirements of poor young people without parental care in our province since its establishment. The local authorities at all levels and the people have recognized the practicality and efficiency of these assistance programmes. We are very glad that we gave them a hand, played one small part in their happy life and have brought joy and happiness to many people, especially unfortunate children without parental care.

Huỳnh Công Bình 


is Project Director in Bentre at SOS Children's Villages in Vietnam. He joined SOS Children’s Villages in 1997.

The activities I cover range from the SOS Children’s Village, over the SOS Kindergarten and SOS Workshop to SOS Youth House and FSP. The question, how best to ensure that our children live and study in the most child-friendly environment is the key motivation guiding my understanding and exercise of duty. Moreover, winning friends for our course is also an important part of my function. 

My family lives, since 1960 in Bến Tre, a nice small city right at the end of Mekong Delta River which has many interlacing rivers and canals. The city is famous for its coconut trees and very many other tropical fruits. From family background, I am the youngest in a chain of many brothers and sisters.  I am married myself and we have two children who are still in school. My family and I live in the SOS Children’s Village and it is excitingly enriching, watching all the children play and share together.   

I understand society as a network system. Therefore, my interest is on how best to harness the synergies of these networks to embrace challenges, fight for the vulnerable and bring about change in the general society. 
In my leisure time, I love to go around my village and play badminton with my close friends.  I enjoy talking with the SOS mothers and children, sharing views with them. High on my free time activities is the improvement of my English. So I like watching movies, surfing on the internet and travelling.