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December 2020 Club News

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Chris Rees Memorial Fund-Update August 2020

by Bob Greer

Most of you are aware that Pha is a young ethnic minority Hmong high school graduate from Ha Giang Province in the mountains of North West Vietnam, and was approved as our inaugural scholar by the Rees family. We are including some new friends in this update who are not familiar with the background, so please excuse me if some of this is repetitive to you.
Pha in Vietnam.

Pha has just completed his first year of veterinary science at university and his results are astonishing:

Semester 1

Semester 2

A little context is revealing: Pha comes from a poor household in a fairly remote commune with no personal computers or the like. His school had severely limited facilities, so he entered university as a relative computer novice and would have been well behind his contemporaries from villages and towns.

Marxism is of course a compulsory subject and I would imagine a decent score would be almost mandatory. The improvement between the semesters may be due to his ceasing part-time work due to his scholarship support.

Whatever the reason, he has justified his approval by Bob Rees and his daughters. Strangely, Pha’s school marks were not dazzling but that is often due to difficulties in reaching school and work duties after school: the playing field can be cruelly uneven and Vietnam loses mountains of talent because of this.

His personality shone. As a young ethnic minority Hmong, Pha faces more challenges than most and he has a long way to go but he is an exceptional youngster and we hope to have him as a guest at our fundraiser dinner a few years hence so he can meet the Rees family and all the other folk who will have helped him on his journey.

He may be the first ever mountain Hmong veterinarian and this will send out a heap of powerful messages to many people. We have quietly advocated for greater recognition of talent in the poor communes, but it is hard work and the power folk are happy with the status quo.

Some of you will know that we were able to help Pha’s brother into a wheelchair supplied by a fabulous Perth couple; he lost the use of his legs about 7 years ago and lived in the most challenging circumstances in a dark room on about a 2x2 meter wooden platform; he now hoons about his commune with a ghetto-blaster and leads a very different lifestyle.

Pha will in due course be able to support him for the rest of his life. (We keep tabs on the brother via the Women’s Union to see if he needs anything, but he is doing fine as he tears about the commune – he seems to have moved from back room problem to poster boy).

We invite any interested former Platypus riders to support Pha by donating to the Chris Rees Memorial Fund bank account at BSB 086 412 account 55 882 2425. This is a separate, special purpose account. Please include your name so we can send you a tax receipt.

This is not intended as a scrounging mission – many of you have donated very generously and we do not want to pester supporters or distract them from our main mission of supporting schoolchildren, but a few supporters have asked for an opportunity to become involved.

We will accept no more donations this year from Bob Rees, or Russell Davidson up in Scotland – enough is enough, thanks very much! We consider $5 a very helpful amount, so if the virus has left you still standing with a spare coin in your back pocket...

We will mail out a couple of Fund updates to our riders each year and will invite support once yearly only. Your donation will be used for Fund purposes only, although Platypus will assist if there is a shortfall.

It seems our stated aim of levelling the academic playing field for poor and deserving youngsters has been achieved in this case, so thanks to all of you who have helped in any way, including those who have ridden with us or intended to before the virus caused us to cancel rides.

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