“In the year 2000 I was in Hoi An and feeling fed up and motivated to move onto a less touristy area. On our last day in the area I reluctantly agreed to visit the local state orphanage with a friend of mine, despite my lack of interest and reluctance. What we found there changed my life. We came across this dark, locked room with no natural light or fresh air. Children were curled up in foetal positions (some banging their heads repeatedly on the wall) on wooden cots, some with buckets underneath to catch defecation. They were just being kept alive.
As we opened the door to the room a few of the more cognitive children turned their heads towards the shaft of light – it was like a scene from the movie “Awakenings” – they had clearly been abandoned on a daily basis. We stayed for the day and opened the windows and took some of the children outside. It was amazing to see the response as these ghost children came alive, it was an epiphany moment.”
Jackie was born and bred in Liverpool, England and went to Sussex University to study English literature and then Glasgow University to complete an MPhil in Modernism. Jackie went on to work in publishing at Mills and Boon with an interest and passion in literature, reading and writing is to this day a life long passion. Jackie and her boyfriend hit a natural confluence in their lives during the year 2000 and decided to take a “round the world” journey. It was during this journey Jackie had her epiphany moment in the Hoi An orphanage.
As a day turned into a week and a week into a month, Jackie’s future seemed set in Hoi An. Her daily visits revealed the extent of the problem for children with disability. Families around the rural countryside were clueless about their children’s conditions and received no help from state services. These children were turned away from schools and received no basic health care. Many children were simply abandoned as poverty prevented mothers, fathers and Grandparents from providing basic care to these forgotten children.
Jackie became a permanent fixture at the orphanage and began rudimentary fundraising to improve the daily lives and schedule of the children. Over time, as the kids came to life and progress was made it became clear her intervention wasn’t necessarily welcome and to boot many more families with children suffering disability began to leave their children in the hopes of better care. From 2005-210 Jackie formed much needed partnerships with professional administrators, fundraisers and strategists to make more permanent plans for children with disability.
In April 2012 after 3 years of pilot projects and construction, Jackie’s Team cut the ribbon on a fully customised school building in the heart of rural Dien Ban commune. It quickly filled from a handful of children, to 48 to 80 to capacity at 100. Over the last 8 years Kianh has trained 38 local teachers to an international standard of special needs care. All children (and their families) have Individual Education plans and receive a full suite of therapies and special needs education.
Well over 600 children have been lucky enough to benefit from Kianh’s life changing programs and everyday 88 full time students attend daily programmes. There are dozens more in outreach, part time therapy and respite programs. Sadly, Kianh still has over 200 children on a waiting list and consensus studies estimate another 1’000 children with disability in the area not receiving any help.
In 2018, thanks to a secret nomination from a supporter, Jackie Wrafter received an M.B.E at the Christmas award ceremony in London. It was an incredibly proud moment for Jackie, her parents and adopted Vietnamese son Khoa. The pomp and circumstance befitting of a lady (and her dedicated team), who have ploughed the long hard row of charitable work with disadvantaged children in a small corner of Viet Nam.
The Kianh Foundation, endorsed by The Queen of England.
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