Phung's dream of education motivates AMA Education Foundation

  16 year old Dao Ngoc Phung / Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

16 year old Dao Ngoc Phung / Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

he New York Times shared a story this week  about a girl's inspiring experience. Her name is Phung, and she lives in rural Vietnam. Since 2011, then just 14 years old, she faces many challenges: her mother passed from cancer and the family shoulders the daunting medical debt; her father works in Ho Chi Minh city on weekdays to support her education, so she is the head of the household while he is away; she takes care of two of her younger siblings Tien and Huong. Now, she is 16, and still "says education is her priority, even when that means getting up before sunrise, traveling an hour each way to school and washing her one and only uniform every night."

Aptly put, "Phung’s tribulations underscore that the challenges of girls’ education are global...above all, poverty and pressure to quit school at 15 and start working. Poverty holds far more girls hostage worldwide than any warlord." In the face of these challenges, Phung still dreams of education, of going to college and studying economics. Her dreams and bright future inspired the world, and "readers responded with a torrent of $750,000 in donations to Room to Read, the aid organization helping her."

Phung's personal story also  inspires us--she is a motivation and reminder for us to keep working on social change, just as she has kept going all this time for education against poverty.

Unfortunately, teaching is one of the most under-paid professions in Vietnam, so it's difficult to provide quality education. The AMA Education Foundation is now working to provide financial aid to teachers and students at the Phước Thiện School through its scholarship program. They are also working to support 55 teacher scholarships for the incoming 2014 class at the University of Education in Saigon, Hue, and Danang. Their programs in scholarship, mentoring, training and development aims to support a total of 108 recipients.

The hope is to support many like Phung, to have an educational impact that can also provide long-term social impact against poverty. Follow the link to support and learn more:

Written by Merry Pham; edited to update Phung's bio.