A married couple who run an unlicensed children’s shelter in Ho Chi Minh City said they are very upset to hear that the government has decided to shut down the place.
Nguyen Van Hoang, 45, and Ngo Thi Kim Van, 49, of Binh Chanh District were informed last Friday that the HCMC People’s Committee had instructed the labor department and the Binh Chanh District People's Committee to terminate the operation of their Hanh Phuc (Happy) shelter, which houses 32 needy children and orphans aged seven to 23.
It also ordered the center and committee to draw up plans to transfer the children to the city’s Social Sponsoring Center or hand them over to their families.
Van told Thanh Nien she was “very upset” to hear the news.
“I think I’m going to lose sleep. How can I tell the kids?”
She said she took the children for a swim a few days ago after hearing that the local government would decide the future of the shelter. She received a phone call from a reporter who informed her of the decision.
She was speechless. The children, who were having fun, knew what happened and quietly held one another’s hands.
They returned home and burst into tears.
The couple started taking in children to babysit in their house in 2006. They then accepted poor and orphaned children, taught them to read and provided them with food and accommodation.
They also kept in touch with the families of the needy children, many of whom hail from other provinces.
The shelter gets financial support from local philanthropists.
Nguyen Van Hoang, the co-founder of the shelter, and a girl at the house. Photo: H.Vy
In 2013 local authorities had inspected the house and found it was not licensed as a social sponsoring center. They had ordered the couple to close down and hand the children over to their families.
According to authorities, the 200-square-meter shelter has more than 30 children, while the law stipulates that a shelter must have at least 30 square meters for a person.
Besides, any shelter that houses 25 people or more must have certain facilities that Hanh Phuc lacks.
The couple had asked the authorities to extend the deadline for closure to May 31 this year. Their request was accepted.
Earlier this month the couple asked the local government to reconsider its decision.