With opening its blue doors to less fortunate people living in Đắk Nông, a province affected by poverty, the Social Center has put several areas of activity into service since September 2018. School education, professional training, housing, various kind of therapies and healthcare as well as organic farming pave the way to a brighter future and a life in dignity for children and handicapped of this region. The center is able to host 250 people in total who all need to be provided and cared of. Keeping the center running requires a huge budget.
Our concerns in regard to financing forced us to break new ground. We decided to establish the Maison Chance Social Enterprise to forward the employment opportunities of our beneficiaries and secure a stable source of income to operate our centers in HCMC and Đắk Nông.
The Social Enterprise: Expanding for a good cause
The products – stuffed animals and animal-shaped keychains, bags, precious and semi-precious stone figures, jewelry, paintings, pastries, etc. – made by disabled and disadvantaged beneficiaries at the Take Wing Center and Village Chance in HCMC have been already marketed and sold by the Social Enterprise. The services comprise well-equipped guest rooms adapted to people in wheelchairs and a restaurant. In adding new products and services, the enterprise is seeking to remain competitive and gain more international recognition.
The site of the Social Center in Đắk Nông turned out to be an advantage since it is located next to Dray Sap – Dray Nur, a nature reserve known for its beautiful waterfalls. Following the concept of sustainable tourism, we hope to attract visitors to the Social Center and launched volunteer and eco-tourism projects. Beside eight cozy guest rooms, equipped with a bathroom, fridge and shared kitchen, the center has an in-house restaurant that offers diverse local delicacies. The ingredients of the served meals are obtained from our own organic farm. We grow seasonal fruits and vegetables, keep chicken and ducks and breed fish in our fishpond. Meals are served with tea and delicious fresh juices like passion fruit, pineapple or orange juice. The intercontinental breakfast consists of coffee or tea, French bread and eggs with vegetables. Our staff is trained to prepare European cuisine like spaghetti bolognaise or French and chicken fries.
Between relaxation and activity
In June we welcomed the Vietnamese organization Happy Class, an association comprising families engaged in volunteer work. When the 32 members of Happy Class visited our newly build center in Đắk Nông, they were fascinated by the colorful scenery, gentle peace and comfort this place emanates. Within three days they discovered every corner of the center, interacted with and befriended our friendly and always helpful staff and eagerly embraced the chance to visit families of poor and remote villages in the vicinity. The Happy Class families were housed in our comfortable guest rooms and enjoyed the tranquility and cozy atmosphere. For their physical well-being was also guaranteed. Stuffed noodles with beef and vegetables, refreshing soups and omelets with herbs, rice and chicken, tasty fruits… a real mouth-watering treat which was created by the restaurant chef and assistant cooks by using fresh, healthy food from our organic garden.
Waking up with dance lessons, our guests started the day with a tour of the whole building. Tree plantations in the green area and fishing with the children of the special need class at the Maison Chance Social Center were bonding activities. Parents and children of Happy Class prepared a varied program for the children. The afternoon was filled with storytelling, painting, making pottery or outdoor games in which kids with disabilities could also participate; the evenings were spent with singing, dancing and laughing.
Activities outside the center included trips to the Bon Jarah Village, the coffee museum and cocoa plantations where tasting chocolate smoothies is a must-have for everyone. The group took the Maison Chance bus as convenient transportation to these sites. They also discovered other tourist attractions like the magnificent waterfalls. A bath at the feet of the waterfalls is refreshing at hot days and fun for kids. The waterfalls are just a walking distance away from the Social Center. The last night was celebrated together with a campfire, grilled corn and karaoke at the center’s lake.
Giving and sharing
Before leaving, the children of Happy Class created a guest book for the Social Center. Their feelings and thoughts about the visit to Đắk Nông express joy, appreciation and the promise to visit their new friends again.
Happy Class also collected funds and gave donations in kind like books, toys, clothes and candies to the families and children of the Bon Jarah Village they visited earlier. This is the home of the M’nong and Ede people, two of 53 officially recognized ethnic minorities living in Vietnam. For this occasion, the village prepared a festive ceremony at the Village Hall where the inhabitants thanked Happy Class with ethnic dances and singing. In return, the association performed songs. A moving moment for the visitors was the encounter with the three poorest families of the village. These impoverished families live in very remote places in rundown homes without running water. They didn´t attend school and thus were unable to speak Vietnamese. The Deputy Mayor took the role of a mediator and translated from M’nong Mon Khmer to Vietnamese. As the association left, it offered money and food to the distressed families.
Staying at Đắk Nông, be it as tourist or volunteer, promises unforgettable moments and exchanges with our beneficiaries and the local population. Away from mass tourism, it is a unique experience to discover the natural surroundings, engage in fun activities but also dive into the world of the locals and understand their way of living. Eventually, giving and sharing connects and creates stronger communities.