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Tuesday, 11 August 2015 14:53

A lasting Loreto legacy in Vietnam

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Sr Trish Franklin ibvm 150Loreto Sister Trish Franklin, Founder of the Loreto Vietnam Australia Program (LVAP), has in the past week bid farewell to her co-workers, friends and thousands of children she has helped over the past 20 years in Vietnam. Her inspiring work will soon be celebrated in a book to be published on October 2015, writes Elouise Hahn.

Children are great imitators.

So give them something great to imitate.

– Anonymous

Loreto Sister Trish Franklin has in the past week bid farewell to her co-workers, friends and thousands of children she has helped over the past 20 years in Vietnam.

Founder of the Loreto Vietnam Australia Program (LVAP), Trish is a humble woman, short in stature yet large in life and with a formidable work ethic, achieving remarkable goals serving impoverished communities.

Over the last 18 years LVAP has implemented development programs across five very remote Provinces in Vietnam where no other NGO’s are operating. New schools are built and educational facilities upgraded to strengthen curriculum outcomes in disadvantaged and isolated communities.

Her vision together with her dedicated team and loyal supporters has impacted the lives of 55,000 children, many of whom are disabled and living in impoverished villages, by providing them with access to improved educational opportunities.

“It’s a cultural shame to have a disabled child. Normally the children would be hidden away and certainly not deemed worthy of an education,” Trish said. Many of the students LVAP has helped have attended university, an achievement which simply wouldn’t have been possible 15 years ago.

LVAP’s slogan ‘Lifting Learners into the Future’ epitomises her work. By offering a diverse range of sustainable educational assistance, children, born into a world of grinding poverty, are able to discover their full potential and educational capability.

Trish’s calling to live and work with the poor became clear following the dozens of trips she took to refugee camps in Thailand between 1984 – 1990, many of those refugees being Vietnamese. It was there she found a deep yearning to concentrate on developing education in Vietnam.

Her dedication and love for the children she works with has resulted in receiving many esteemed awards, including an Order of Australia in 2005. Most recently, Trish was presented with the highly prestigious Friendship Medal, signed off by the President and Prime Minister of Vietnam. The Friendship Medal is the highest official recognition that a foreigner can receive. It is awarded on rare occasions to “Foreigners and collectives of foreigners (who) have made great contributions to building, consolidating and developing the friendship between Vietnam and other countries in the world.” Trish is the fourth Australian to be bestowed with such an honour.

As Trish said, “Etched within me, I will incessantly adore and cherish the kids of Vietnam and I will never lose the deepest hope that their lives will move forward with optimism, confidence, growth and every wonderful possibility.”

Trish is confident her ‘amazing team’ will continue to drive projects and opportunities with sincerity, truth and deep values.

“Vietnam will always be in my heart forever and with memories that I will treasure eternally”.

(Photo courtesy of Loreto Sisters of Australia and South East Asia)

A biography of Trish called ‘The Wonder of Her Love’ written by Michael Adams will be released in October. This book is a celebration of one loved by so many, a tribute to an indomitable spirit and a record of the remarkable journey of an extraordinary person.

To pre-order a copy of the biography today please click here.

You can also donate to LVAP through Mary Ward International Australia either online www.mwia.org.au or via cheque made out to: Mary Ward International Overseas Development Fund. Please include a note asking for your donation to be directed to LVAP. Address to send a cheque is:

Mary Ward International Australia
Suite 105, 3 Eden Street
North Sydney 2060 NSW Australia

This article written by Elouise Hahn was first published in the August 2015 issue of the Loreto Networker, the monthly e-newsletter of the Loreto Sisters of Australia and South East Asia.