Today, I have met with the Founder of Sfora School for Autistic Children: Nguyen Thu. Hands down, she is the most inspiring person I have met to date.
In a small but somewhat tall 3 stories building, the school helps autistic children between 6 and 18 with the help of mentors and teachers. We walked through the common room towards the staircase to the 2nd floor, I could see children drawing and painting, others were singing and practicing piano. As we reached the 2nd floor, she explained to us how important this school was for her and that she made it her life’s mission to help children in Vietnam. Nguyen shared with us how hard it was for parents in Vietnam to deal with an autistic child due to the lack of infrastructure but also the lack of knowledge on the condition. Violence at home is often an issue and considerably slows down the growth of the child. Most children goes to Sfora during the daytime but some other also live at the school to better help them. A major difficulty, she said, was that parents often ask “when is my child going to be normal” or “when is my child going to be ready for regular school”. Many tries to rush the growth of the child and sometime prematurely remove them from Sfora to put them in a normal school. In these situations Nguyen has witnessed the stop of progression and in some situation, a return to past behaviors. “It breaks my heart to see this, but without the parent’s cooperation, I cannot help the child”, she said. You could see the genuine, almost motherly, care that she gives to her students.
Despite how difficult Sfora’s mission is, she showed an incredible amount of strength. When you give yourself a mission, you can’t give up; you have to follow through your project.
What is most inspiring is that she doesn’t appear to expect anything back from her community. The only thing she wants is to see the children in her school smile and grow. There are no words to describe how much passion and effort she has for her social entreprise. Her unconditional love for each and every child in Sfora, her willingness to spend, pretty much, 7 days a week taking them under her wings is truly an example of an extraordinary person doing extraordinary impact on the local community.