Newsletter No.50 Jan. 2017
When you receive this
newsletter it is already 2017, but we are still preparing ourselves for
the Vietnamese New Year at the end of January. You can compare this
preparation with the excitement and expectations of Christmas. There
will also be a New Year’s Eve which will be different each year
according to the lunar calendar. It will be followed by three days of
celebrations (28, 29 & 30 Jan), similar to Christmas and Boxing
Day with lots of food and enjoying each other. So, for us it is never
too late to say happy new year. May our friendship be stronger in love
and grace this year.
Solar Light Christmas gift
We made a suggestion to friends in
Vietnam that our solar lamp "Light of the World” was available as a
Christmas gift to bless families, friends or staff of their
organization. We have done this with our own staff and they were very
happy with it. The good thing about our lamp is that it is a solid
product that can be used for years in comparison to the cheaper ones on
the market. The lamps are still available for other occasions to bless
people in areas where electricity can be a problem. Even mobile phones
(etc.) can be recharged with it. Watch our video clip (click).
Book on Vietnamese social
A Vietnamese book has
been published by the British Council and other agencies with the
purpose to show examples of social enterprises in Vietnam. The aim is
to acknowledge the importance of creative ideas for social goals
through social enterprise models. Please click here to download the
Vietnamese pdf file of the book. Information about Solar Serve can be
found on pages 55 to 58 (click).
It was an honor for us to be mentioned
in this book. Social enterprises are still not fully recognized in
A football adventure
Vu, one of our deaf
workers, loves to play football at three o’clock in the morning because
playgrounds are limited in the city. He was invited to play for the
national deaf team at the (click)
ASEAN Deaf Football Championship in
Malaysia. Although his family found it hard to release him, they
finally gave permission. We also gave him time off from work and were
very proud of him. They played very well and even reached the
semifinals, but lost sadly to Malaysia. It was a special experience for
Vu to play abroad for the first time. He is back at our factory and
again plays with his deaf friends at three o’clock in the morning.
Help in Emergency
The number of clean
stoves in our storage has been growing. Two months ago an emergency
came up after heavy rainfall and floods in three provinces in the
north. There was a call for help and we decided to support (click)
victims in Quang Binh province with 1000 clean stoves from our storage.
Another organization provided blankets, clean water and small amounts
of money. Not all of the clean cookers could be distributed due to
limited transport, so we decided to support half of the 1000 stoves for
poor families in the mountains. It was very meaningful for us but also
well received by the victims and poor families.
Charity, Social Enterprise
and Family Business Training
We want to make it clear
that Solar Serve is a social enterprise and also a charity. But some of
us have been trained by Swiss Create to teach others in Vietnam how to
start a small family business. So we teach them also to apply
principles that we have experienced in Solar Serve. Although we do this
beside our normal work in Solar Serve, we are considering to be
officially registered. Now we have many stories to tell how lives have
been changed and that is why you find testimonies in this letter. It
became a part of what we are doing as a social enterprise, charity and
family business training.
A change of thinking in the
A Sôn belongs to the De
minority and attended our family business course. He thought he could
never be successful in any kind of business. But during the seminar he
heard the success stories of other participants. It changed his
thinking and one day he walked in his rice field and a question came to
his mind: ‘Why not change this field into a fish farm?’ So he started
to be creative and made the field deeper and guided a water stream to
his field. It became a pond and he started to grow a special kind of
fish that people loved. Now he is selling his fish to many customers.
It was a small action but it became a big change.
Helping the poor in Cambodia
We were invited to
explore the possibility to hold a family business course in Cambodia.
There are many Vietnamese families who live there for almost 12 – 20
years. Nearly 90% of them have no passports or identity cards. They are
not able to return to Vietnam, so the local government allows them to
live there. They are very poor, slaves of bad employers and sometimes
they have to sell their children for money in order to survive.
Hopefully this year we can teach them to stand strong with practical
steps through our family business course. In other words: Teach them to
fish and not to rely on others for fish.
Being misused in Malaysia
Mr. Hung was often on the
road as a driver. One day he found his wife with another man and
di-vorced her. He went to Saigon and met a woman in a bar. She told him
about the opportunities in Malaysia. Together they decided to move
there, but soon his papers were taken. He was trapped because the woman
had set it up. He started to use drugs, but one day he met some others
in a similar situation. They helped him and soon he was involved in our
family business training last year. He changed a lot and after he was
able to return to Vietnam, he applied the FBT principles and started a
chicken farm with his mother and raised already 700 chickens.
Miracle at home
The 6 year old son of
Tuan, one of our workers, was playing on New Years day at his
neighbor’s house. They had a large TV with two speakers sitting on an
unstable dresser in the living room. The boy is very active and tried
to climb the dresser in order to change the TV channel. Suddenly the
whole thing started to move and fell on the boy. The heavy TV landed
over his head and hit him slightly and caused a head wound. He survived
and everyone was very grateful that the boy’s life was spared. A
similar accident (click)
was posted as a warning on YouTube almost
happened the same day. Shocking to see!
Several relatives of our
Solar Serve friends came to visit us during their holiday in Vietnam.
We are always open to receive people like them and happy to explain
what we are doing. If the sun is shining we can demonstrate our solar
devices and tell them about our purpose of running the center. Some of
them wrote us later that their trip and visit was unforgettable. A
Vietnamese young man from the USA also spent a whole day with us asking
questions about how he could help his own people in the near future. We
were impressed by his compassion and wished that he could join Solar
Serve, but that is up to him.
Although we are a social
enterprise our profit is limited because our hearts are also connected
with helping the poor. We are not sponsored by big organizations but we
have many Solar Serve friends with a great compassion for the people in
Vietnam. Recently some of them have been raising support by selling
syrup waffles, flower wreaths, cards, contacting recycling shops for
donations and other creative activities. All of this helps us to do our
work as a charity, beside our enterprise and teaching. Through the
years it has impacted many people and we are very thankful to all those
A woman we all love
We still want to honor
Madame Dau, an elderly women from Hanoi who has been very important to
us. She was more than 70 years old when she worked with us in the
country side. Open (click)
no.8 Newsletter). She was a great
encouragement for our workers but also for the people. In the past she
was one of the trans-lators of the late president Ho Chi Minh. We have
been visiting her in Hanoi and now she is more than 80 years old.
Recently she started to forget things. It was sad to see her
struggling, but it brought so much joy when she recognized our workers
by showing her some old pictures of 2005.
That’s all for now. Let’s
finish with a Vietnamese New Years greeting: Chúc Mừng Năm Mới
Solar Serve team
Called to Serve