Friends of COPI – a helping hand of poor Vietnamese children

(VOVWORLD) - “Children of Peace International” (COPI) is a charitable organization, founded in 1996 and operating in both Vietnam and the US. The organization has been honored with the World Service Medal Award for its dedication to the community. With appreciation for what COPI has done for Vietnamese children, Kathy O’Brien, an American businesswoman in Singapore, initiated a group called “Friends of COPI” in 2010 to raise funds for poor children.
Friends of COPI – a helping hand of poor Vietnamese children  - ảnh 1Kathy O’Brien presents donation raised by "Friends of COPI" (Photo: VOV)

Kathy developed her love for Vietnamese children during business trips to Vietnam. In 2002, when Kathy was a single person, dedicating all her time to her business, she adopted a new-born orphan in Vung Tau and named him Van Cuong. Raising Cuong has changed her life. She loves Cuong as if he was her biological son and spreads her love for other Vietnamese children living with difficulties. 8 years later, Kathy met Binh Rybacki, an overseas Vietnamese in the US and COPI founder, which led to the establishment of “Friends of COPI”.

Kathy said: “We are a group of people in Singapore who really want to help those who need it but we need to be sure that the organization is trusted and careful with the money. When we started years ago, I knew COPI did a very good work in Singapore so I told all my friends about this organization and we decided to do one event to raise some money. And the event went so well. We have done 11 events over years and have raised more than 100,000 USD”. 

“Friends of COPI” often hosts gatherings with music and food where participants donate precious items such as paintings and pictures. Those items are auctioned by “Friends of COPI” and all the proceedings go directly to COPI.

Kathy told us how the donations are used: “The money is taken around to provinces in Vietnam where there are people in need, particularly children but not children all the time. The needy people sometimes live in the orphanage, who have little resources, and sometimes live in families and communities but just are very poor. So the money, for example, can be paid for school uniforms, for children who need the uniforms to go to school. Sometimes it’s food and basic medical supply. Some children get bicycles because schools are too far away. And in Vinh Long province, the money was used to build a kindergarten. The community is so happy and supported because the children didn’t have any school before”.

Friends of COPI – a helping hand of poor Vietnamese children  - ảnh 2Kathy in an interview with VOV's reporter (Photo: VOV)

Kathy said she loves to join hands with COPI to provide opportunities so that Vietnamese children can have a brighter future. She shared her thoughts: “Friends of COPI” are incredibly lucky people who were given many opportunities in life to support the potentials. We’re investing money in children who deserve the opportunities to achieve their potentials. And we have seen that through COPI support through all their lives, many children have gone to universities and graduated and become doctors and professionals. We’ve seen those who didn’t want to attend universities to become hairdressers and baristas. And we want to give these opportunities to as many children as we can”.

Kathy’s first adopted child Gus Van Cuong is now 15 and always accompanies his mom to charitable activities in Vietnam. Cuong said: “I was raised in a family that always supports charity work and helps others. It’s very important to realize that you can use your ability to help other people. To me equality is a big issue and I think it’s important that everyone is treated as equally as possible”.

Friends of COPI – a helping hand of poor Vietnamese children  - ảnh 3 Kathy's adopted son Jonas Hoang Son attends a fund-raising event at his school. (Photo: VOV)

Kathy’s second adopted son, Jonas Hoang Son, is also deeply involved in charity. He has called on his friends to donate money for Vietnamese peers living with n difficulties. Son told VOV: “We’ve saved money in piggy banks for our friends in the past year. At one event, we had everybody coming together, we smashed the piggy banks and counted the amount of money we have saved. I want them to be like me who gets a lot of privileges”. 

Spreading the love and care for poor Vietnamese children is the goal of “Friends of COPI”. Kathy said she will continue her efforts to support COPI and Vietnamese children as long as she can.

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