Merck Vietnam and the British NGO Saigon Children's Charity granted 80 scholarships to poor Khmer children in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh last Friday.
The 80 students, who were each awarded a scholarship worth US$100 each, will be given the scholarships annually until they finish college, according to Merck Vietnam, the local branch of Germany-based multinational pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck KGaA.
Most of the students reside in Tieu Can District and have overcome poverty to achieve outstanding marks in school.
Dang Minh Truc, an eighth grader at Tieu Can Ethnic Boarding School, told Thanh Nien his mother had worked very hard to save money for him to go to school. His father died shortly after he was born.
"I have been trying hard to study and I have received honors many years in a row," he said. "I usually go fishing and do for-hire jobs on the weekends to earn some money to support my mother."
Truc said he was thrilled to hear that he had won the scholarship.
The scholarship award ceremony was scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. on October 7, but many students and their eager parents arrived at the conference room several hours early.
Thach Thi Hoa, mother of Thach Thi Hau, a sixth grader at Hieu Tu Secondary School, said she hardly slept the night before the ceremony.
"Without the scholarship, my daughter may have had to drop out because we don't have enough money."
Hoa and her daughter shared a bicycle to the ceremony.
Axel Hartmann, managing director of Merck Vietnam, said he was happy to see the smiles on the faces of the poor students and he hoped the small gifts could help them study to their full potential.
Funding for the scholarships came from more than 1,000 of Merck Vietnam's partners and friends who joined a charity project held by Merck Vietnam and the Saigon Children's Charity (SCC) during the Mid-Autumn Festival last September.
The company and the organization came up with the idea of the "Merck moon cake box." This moon cake box, which was made from recycled materials, contained a single small moon cake and a commitment to its partners that Merck Vietnam together with SCC, instead of giving traditional moon cake boxes to its partners like in previous years, would grant scholarships to 80 children from poor families in Tieu Can District.