Vietnam Ambassadors Trip – Debbie Beveridge

In May 2018 four Costa Foundation Ambassadors travelled to the Central Highlands of Vietnam to visit Costa Foundation schools. Here is Debbie's story.

Hello, my name is Debbie Beveridge and I am one of the lucky people that was picked this year to be an Ambassador for the Costa foundation. I was given the opportunity to visit Costa Foundation schools in Vietnam this May with the other wonderful Ambassadors.

I will try and put into words what the visit meant to me and how it felt to be given the chance to see what our fundraising does first hand, and try to inspire you all to keep up the hard work fundraising and banking your donations.

I thought I knew a lot about what the Foundation does and has achieved in 11 years. I’ve read all the information available about the charity and have been to a Champion Training session where I met Piers (the Founder & Director of the charity) Sandy Gourlay (the Costa Charity & Community Manager) and Becky Stephenson (the Costa Foundation Executive). Having read all the available literature on the charities website, I had a good understanding that enabled me to talk quite knowledgably to my team members, customers and local schools about the charity. But going on this adventure has taught me more than I could ever learn from words and has shown me that there is so much I didn’t know. The trip to Vietnam has helped me to understand, more than ever before, the impact the work of the Costa Foundation has on children.

To be able to sit with the children, to actually play with them, to turn their look of fear and surprise at who we are into a smile and a giggle and to be involved in gaining their trust enough to teach them a simple game of “Ring a ring o’ roses” was truly wonderful. I was able to do this again and again and words cannot express the feeling of overwhelming happiness I felt on each occasion. The experience was so beautiful and humbling, I have never felt anything like it before.

I will never forget the feeling of welcome from everyone we met. We were accepted with open arms everywhere we went and the praise and thanks we got was just incredible. I have tears in my eyes now just remembering how thankful everyone was from the teachers to the parents and the children. Watching the children sing and shout “thank you Costa” while making hearts with their hands filled my heart with joy every time.  

We were lucky enough to visit several schools, some brand new and others that have been open for years. We visited building sites of new projects and a potential site which is still to be signed off. We really did see all aspects from the start to the finish, which really made me feel involved in all stages, and gave me a great understand of how the charity works.

I think the experience that has stuck with me the most was a visit to two tiny schools (with only 2 classrooms each) that are not Costa Foundation schools, but are in need of our help. The classrooms were small and not fit for purpose, there were no desks or chairs and there was no running water available. Unfortunately the local community do not have the facilities or the money to build a nursery school big enough for the hundreds of children in the local community who would like to attend.

At these schools we met and were able to play with the children, and we also met the parents who had gathered outside on their scooters to pick up their children. We spoke to one mother and asked what a quality education would mean to her and her children but she was unable to answer – having left education at an early age to help on her family’s farm, she couldn’t comprehend what it could mean but she knew it would give them hope and a brighter future.

It was at this point on the trip that the words “we are changing lives” meant more to me than ever before. The children in these woefully inadequate schools deserve more. The mother who left education at a young age deserves more for herself and her children. The hard working coffee farmers deserve more. It was wonderful seeing the hugely successful Costa Foundation schools, but getting to see the poorer schools and children we could be helping in the future has made me want to do more, to allow me to change their lives the way they’ve changed mine.

Changing lives means more to me than ever before and I now know that we all need to do more. £1 a day raised in store for a year can do more than you could ever imagine!

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