A Story of Love and Philanthropy
Maison Chance is first and foremost a story of love – the love of a 21-year-old Swiss girl traveling across Asia in 1993 – for a young Vietnamese boy, who was seriously unwell.
During her journey painter Aline Rebeaud accidentally arrived at a psychiatric hospital south of Vietnam. The heavy fate of the 12-year-old boy named Thanh touched her deeply. Chained and left alone in a corner of the room, he was given just a few more days to live. With heart, liver and lung problems, Thanh was in a terrible state. Unable to accept the medical forecast, she took the boy under her wings and brought him to another institution where he received more appropriate medical care. For three months she looked after him. Soon the other patients and their relatives would call Aline ‘Tim’, the Vietnamese word for ‘heart’ – a name she carries to this day.
Spending so much of time at the hospital, she crossed paths with many disabled people treated like outcasts, ignored by society and even own families. In order to help them Tim extended her stay in Vietnam indefinitely, rented an accommodation and welcomed them under her roof. Orphans, street children and people with disabilities found a shelter in her small house in Binh Tan, that time a poor suburb of Ho Chi Minh City. Together they formed a big family, considering Tim as their mother, sister of friend. This shelter became home to the small community of destiny, which local started to call “Maison Chance”, the lucky house.
Education and Training: Ways out of Poverty and Dependency
When providing a roof and food were no longer enough, Tim launched an education program for the residents of the lucky house in 1995. She organized literacy classes and introductory courses in art. The Shelter turned into a classroom. Simultaneously, she put a rehabilitation program in place to address the needs of disabled residents.
The activities of Maison Chance were finally recognized by the Vietnamese government in 1998, and gradually supported by international donors and friends. That was the hour of birth of Maison Chance as registered non-profit organization.
Flying with Own Wings
In 1999, the organization’s field of professional training was extended to areas like information technology, sewing and textile design courses. By learning new skills, the trainees ought to get opportunities to find a job that suits their abilities and eventually “fly with own wings”. Seven years later, a vocational training center, the Take Wing Center, was created to expand the successful training model. Located around 1 km away from the Shelter it includes training rooms for workshops like sewing, drawing, stone cutting and IT. Additionally, it serves as a place of handicraft manufacture where handicapped beneficiaries skillfully produce products like stuffed animals and bags, oil paintings, jewelry or stone figures.
A third Maison Chance Center was inaugurated in January 2011. Village Chance or the ‘Lucky Village’ is built as miniature village composed of apartments especially designed for people in wheelchairs. The cost of rent is low compared to the market value. It also hosts a school for under-privileged students, a kindergarten and a specialized class for mentally handicapped kids. The spacious campus makes it possible to organize extracurricular activities at the end of the day, such as football matches, circus acrobatic or martial arts classes. Beside a restaurant and a bakery, the center has a hydrotherapy pool which helps disabled people carry out rehabilitation exercises. The three centers, situated within 1 km 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 Đắk Nông, located 350 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. It offers more adapted activities to its beneficiaries such as gardening, farming and horse therapy. The Social Center in Đắk Nông opened its primary school in 2018 and welcomed its first 120 beneficiaries, orphans and under-privileged children of the region living in secluded minority villages. Another 70 people followed to move into the center’s housing one year later.
Maison Chance – A Story of Love