Maison Chance is above all a story about love. The love of a young 21-year-old-Swiss girl traveling through Asia, and a young 12-year-old-Vietnamese boy, who was seriously unwell.
In 1993, Aline Rebeaud, a young painter, arrived by chance at a psychiatric hospital in the south of Vietnam. She was instantly touched by this boy, chained and alone in the corner, who had been given just a few days left to live. With heart, liver and lung problems, Thanh was in a terrible state. Confronted by this boy, Aline Rebeaud could not stand by and do nothing. She took him to the hospital and watched over the boy, day and night, for three months. She was given the name “Tim” by the patients – “heart” in Vietnamese.
As she came and went from the hospital, she crossed paths with many disabled persons. They were left to the side and completely ignored by society. Tim decided to welcome them under her roof, extending her stay in Vietnam indefinitely. Orphans, street children and people with disabilities found refuge in this shack in a poor suburb of Ho Chi Minh City. All formed a big family, with this young 21-year-old girl as their mother, ready for anything in order to help them. People from the area renamed the shelter “Maison Chance”. In 1995, Tim started to fight for the education of Maison Chance beneficiaries. It was no longer only a question of providing a roof over their heads, but a question of educating them too. Literacy classes and an introduction to painting began. Simultaneously, a rehabilitation program for those with disabilities was put in place.
In 1999, the vocational training programs expanded. It was the beginning of information technology, sewing and textile design courses. The goal is to open up as many opportunities as possible for the disadvantaged children, orphans, street children and disabled persons to find their voice, allowing them to fly with their own wings.
In 2006, vocational training grew in scale. A center made specifically for training was established. The Take Wing center was born. Situated about 1km from the shelter, it consists of sewing, IT, woodwork and painting workshops. There are also two rooms for volunteers in the building.
The third center of Maison Chance was inaugurated in January 2011. Village Chance or the ‘Lucky Village’ is the first apartment complex in Vietnam to be adapted to persons with disabilities. The cost of rent is low compared to the market value. Unlike many other buildings, this one was specifically designed to allow easy wheelchair access, even in heavy rain. The Lucky Village is also home to a swimming pool used for hydrotherapy, a primary school, a restaurant run by Maison Chance beneficiaries and a day care center.
The three centers, situated within 1km of each other, are recognizable by their blue color, a symbol of hope.
And the story goes on!
Maison Chance noticed that some of the older beneficiaries who could not fully integrate into society would be more comfortable in a quiet environment, far from the hustle of the city. After a lot of research and land exploration, Maison Chance chose to establish a new and innovative social center in the region of Dak Nong, located 350 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. This rural center will offer more adapted activities to its beneficiaries such as gardening therapy and horse therapy. It would also welcome orphans and disabled people of the region.
The social center of Dak Nong is currently under construction and should open sometime in 2018.
For more info regarding the Dak Nong project.