Every family is great!

(VOVWORLD) - It’s very common for adults to tell stories to kids, but have you ever asked the kids to tell their stories? Let’s check out the project “Every family is great” to find out what children think about things like families and love. 

“Family is rice with fish sauce”; “Family is a loving mother”; “Family is the baby’s cries”; “Family is Ipad”, “Family is being scolded”. Those are some of the thousand thoughts of pupils from grade 4 to 6 collected by Nguyen Huong Linh, La Thanh Ha,  Nguyen Thi Ha Lan, Duong Thuy Ly, and Nguyen Ngoc Mai Tram during their journey to 7 Vietnamese provinces. Sharing an interest in social work, the five girls started a non-profit project called “Every family is great” last October. The project aims to provide children with perspectives on differences and variety of families. Huong Linh, one  of the founders, said the topic of family was inspired by her own childhood. “My parents separated when I was in grade 4, but neither of them gave me any explanation of the  situation,” Linh said, “I felt hurt for a very long time until I grew up and figured it out by myself. Then I realized that it is normal for parents to  separate when they stop loving each other. If only that had been explained to me at the time, I wouldn’t have had to carry the pain for my whole life. That’s why I’d like these kids to avoid being hurt, to understand and accept the fact that we now have many other family models besides the standard nuclear family model.”

Every family is great! - ảnh 1 A pupil's thought on family (Photo: "Every family is great" project)

For three weeks, the girls travelled to 11 primary and secondary schools where they organized two-hour workshops to enable the children to share experience and feelings about different kinds of families. They played games and did activities with them, and asked them questions about families that have divorced parents, a single dad, a single mom, 2 moms, 2 dads, or no parents at all, just grandparents. Thanh Ha, one of the main teachers at the workshops, said: “One of our activities at the workshop was creating a family tree. The students drew a tree and wrote their wishes for their families on the fruits. Instead of abstract things like happiness, love, joy, most of them mentioned specific activities like hanging out, having dinner, going on a picnic, etc. It made us realize that children’s happiness is very simple but requires time and the participation of adults.”

Every family is great! - ảnh 2A pupil with his family tree (Photo: "Every family is great project) 

As part of the project are two exhibitions and talkshows organized in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Impressed by emotional stories of the students’ joys and sorrows in their families, the group decided to retitle the exhibitions as “A thousand stories from children”, and display the children’s letters, poems, and confessions about their families. The exhibitions have attracted social activists, newly-wed couples, parents, teachers, and young people who are planning families. Most of the attendees were curious about how Linh and her group got the students to talk. “It was very simple: we asked, and they answered,” Linh said, “I think adults now are too busy and only pay attention to their children’s school results, not topics like this. If you truly want to talk to them, they’ll definitely talk to you.”

Every family is great! - ảnh 3 "A thousand stories from children" exhibition in Hanoi (Photo: "Every family is great" project)

Ngoc Linh, a parent from Hanoi whose first child is almost a year old, said: “This exhibition has helped me a lot in planning the way to bring up my child. I agree with the girls that we should spend more time with the kids and talk to them to understand their thoughts. I believe parents are the most fun toys for the kids, who they love the most.”

Also from Hanoi, secondary school teacher Dieu Hoa couldn’t conceal her appreciation for the five girls: “As a teacher, I have  met  many  pupils who have great pain from their families but don’t want to talk  about it. I seriously don’t know what to do to share the mental burden  with  them. That’s why I’m so thankful for the girls because  they have touched the pupils’ hearts and got them talking about how they feel, how they accept and respect differences. But I wonder what happens after the 2-hour workshop when they have touched the pupils' feelings? Do they have any plans to keep that positive thinking going?”

Answering the question, Thanh Ha said: “We only had 2 hours to meet and talk to the pupils and didn’t see them again. That’s why we think their teachers  are luckier than we are because  they get  to spend time with them every day. We are willing to share our methods and activities so teachers can talk to their pupils so that they can come up with a plan to help them develop. We believe the way for a project to grow is not by people in the project, but by observers who are aware of the project’s positive effect and learn from it .”

The “Every family is great” project was sponsored by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) Vietnam, an independent, non-profit think tank working on the development of civil society and social equality.