A teacher from Kontum, Vietnam, writes on the board during a lesson conducted by members of Barré, a Singapore missionary group.A teacher from Kontum, Vietnam, writes on the board during a lesson conducted by members of Barré, a Singapore missionary group.Four missioners from Barré, an affiliate of Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS), travelled to Kontum, a province in Vietnam, to teach English to an ethnic minority community.

Barré is a group of Singaporean Catholic volunteers who have been working with underprivileged children in Southeast Asia since 2010.

From July 17-23, the missioners headed to Kontum, 600 km north of Ho Chin Minh City, to reach out to the Bahnah community through education to give them hope of better opportunities in life.

The missioners conducted English lessons and teachers’ training sesssions daily for local teachers during their stay.

This was done through simple grammatical worksheets and providing guidance for lesson plans. The team also incorporated the use of popular movies and songs which was a clear hit with the students.

Barré, together with Kontum Missionaries and Friends (KMF), are adopting a 10-year approach to this educational work which began in 2013.

This programme involves teaching native teachers who in turn train other teachers to teach in their community.

The Bahnah community, together with the many other minority ethnic groups, form approximately 13 percent of the population in Vietnam. They are mostly uneducated and have lived far up in the highlands of Vietnam all their lives.

Most of the families are too poor to send their children to mainstream Vietnamese schools.

While Barré has missioners going to Kontum five to six times a year, they also conduct weekly Skype lessons with their students to provide continuous learning.

From 2010 to 2012, the group also provided support to refugee children at the Thai-Myanmar border.

 

By BENEDICT CHUA, STEPHANIE ROBERT AND FIONNA WEE

To know more about Barré and their work, visit www.barregroup.org.

 

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