Making A small difference

Ever wanted to feel like you could make a difference? Even a small one?

Big charities can make big differences, and when it’s a question of large scale natural disasters there’s no doubting the good they can do, but that doesn’t mean the giant charities are the only piece in the puzzle of making a better life. A lot of people see big charities as being bogged down by admin, or inefficient, and they feel that their own donations or contributions are lost like drops in an ocean.

So what if you could create a small charity and make a small difference yourself, one you can really see?

That’s exactly what Ann Maasbøl and her family did when they started MASD (Make A Small Difference).

“We’re from Denmark and we’ve been here in Vietnam for ten years” explains Ann. “We accidentally came across a daycare shelter in the Mekong Delta on our travels and saw that they had nothing. We talked with them and it occurred to us that we wanted to do something where we could see where our money went. So we put some money in to begin with.”

That was four years ago. Now Ann does the practical work for the shelter with monthly visits, the family helps with food, clothes, and repairs, and even their children are involved working on the social media. When Ann met Push Climbing’s Yulya they talked and the kids were invited for a day on the climbing wall. Which is what you see in the pictures. “The people at Push were really good and super friendly. While the kids were shy at first it took about fifteen minutes before they were all running around and having fun – a couple of them even made it to the top.”

Meanwhile MASD is also growing and stretching outwards.

“At first we put in our own money and helped out then little by little we figured we could sell items for the shelter; bamboo bottles, and bracelets for example that are sustainably made locally. We we also organise a big tennis tournament once a year in March.”

As MASD has grown, so has the difference it has made.

“In the beginning there were around thirty kids but that has now doubled and what’s super important is that the kids have a safe place to stay, healthier food to eat, clothes from us, and the whole thing is running well.

Our own kids are bigger of course and two of our daughters are studying and working in Europe where they help with the social media. The youngest comes with us when we go to the shelter at weekends and I think it helps us all appreciate what a good life we have and the sense of giving back something to a country that has been so great to us.”

MASD is at a tipping point where it is starting to become a little better known and others are asking how they can help. “I don’t think it’s great for people to come and bet there for a day then disappear from the kids’ lives but anyone can help collect shoes, clothing, or even donate rice and cooking oil which we will will then deliver.”

If you want to know more about MASD, or get in touch to donate, you can reach them via the MASD website and the MASD Facebook Page.

Words by Steve Shipside.

Available in: Vietnamese

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