COPI is a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the people of Vietnam develop the capability to help themselves. Through the financial and material support of orphanages, hospitals, clinics, and schools, as well as two medical missions each year, COPI offers hope, and help, to those in need.
What is Children of Peace International?
Children of Peace International (COPI) is one of the New England and Bermuda District Projects. COPI is a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the people of Vietnam develop the ability to help themselves by teaching them the skills they need to learn and thrive on their own.
Early on in her life, COPI Founder Binh Rybacki and her family were evacuated by American troops only days before the fall of Saigon to Communist troops. She was only eighteen at the time. Binh Rybacki remained in the United States for more than twenty years before returning to Vietnam in 1993 to make peace with her home country and to find the rest of her family. During her visit, she found that although the war in Vietnam officially ended in 1975, the war still held the country in a state weakened by economic hardship, disease, divorce, and other difficulties. Children were working as street peddlers and beggars. Seeing the position her home country had been put in since the war moved Binh Rybacki to found Children of Peace International with her husband, Jack, in 1993.
When Children of Peace International was founded in 1993, their primary objective was to support orphanages in Vietnam. Over time, COPI has expanded their work into many provinces of Vietnam as well as into other areas of support. Currently, in addition to supporting orphanages, COPI also provides education and medical care in many areas of Vietnam.
COPI is currently partnered with 14 orphanages, homes, and schools in Vietnam under their Orphan Care project. The funds COPI provides to support government-owned orphanages aim to improve the quality of the care and life for the orphans. This includes providing training for orphanage caregivers in early childhood development, food, education, and stability for the orphans. COPI also provides vocational training to teach children skills that will be important for future employment, such as embroidery, sewing, cutting hair, and painting.
Aside from the Orphan Care project, COPI launched its “Scholarships to our Scholars” program in 1999, which gives 400 scholarships to underprivileged students in many different provinces of Vietnam. The money goes towards school uniforms, school supplies, and registration fees. Children of Peace International’s support for children’s education also includes visiting students and their families to provide encouragement and guidance. The New England and Bermuda District of Key Clubs has worked with COPI in the past on their education initiative by providing funds to help build a school in a rural community in Vietnam. Our work with this school continued in later years as our District has provided further financial support to the school so that it can continue to serve the local community. Our continued support has also resulted in building an extension to the school that will allow the students with more space to learn.
Children of Peace International hosts two medical mission trips each year, one in the winter and one in the summer. These clinics treat people who otherwise have no access to healthcare. The medical and dental teams on the missions treat between 200 and 300 patients at each clinic and host about seven or eight clinics per mission. The clinics aim not only treat but also teach the patients how to better care for themselves so that they can stay healthy long after their times in the clinics. COPI clinics also provide medical equipment and training to physicians and nurses in rural communities in hopes of creating lasting change and prosperity.
Children of Peace International’s main goal is to help the people of Vietnam so that they will be able to support themselves in the future and be proud of the communities in which they live. The New England and Bermuda District of Key Clubs is proud to support COPI in this mission.
Our Current Initiative: San sả hồ #2
In 2019, the New England and Bermuda District of Key Club International unanimously voted to fund a project with COPI to construct a dormitory and administrative building for the San sả hồ #2 school. We completed our fundraising goal of $50,000 in 2021. This school is located in the mountainous town of Sa Pa, Lao Cai in the northwestern region of Vietnam. The government of Vietnam agreed to simultaneously reconstruct the school itself, resulting in a fully functioning school facility for students in Sa Pa.
Our portion of the project aims to help children gain better access to education. Many children in Sa Pa must walk at least 5 kilometers each way from their homes to get to school. The journey to the school is not only long, but very dangerous, as childen must walk along mountain roads without sidewalks or guardrails. Many students do not attend school because of the distance and hazardous commute. By constructing a dormitory, where students can stay during the school week, we will provide more children with access to education and ensure that these children get to school easily and safely each day.
This new dormitory will be named in memory of Mr. George Whitney, who served as our Key Club District Administrator from 1978 through 2019.
This is not the first time that Key Club has built a school with COPI. Back in 2009, the District worked with Children of Peace International to build the Hiếu Nghĩa school in the town of Vũng Liêm in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. The school was built on land donated by local rice farmers. Our District has since funded an expansion of the school (2013), a fence to protect children from running into the surrounding farmland (2014), and supplies for students to attend the school.
Our District is thrilled for the opportunity to expand our impact in Vietnam, providing access to a quality education in two different communities on opposite ends of the country!
Photos from the Hiếu Nghĩa School
How can my Key Club help?
The best way to start raising money for this cause is to spread awareness about the issue. As a Key Club, you can host fundraisers and different events to raise money and awareness for the problems in Vietnam, especially in rural communities. As a club make a goal to set aside one fundraiser per month dedicated to COPI. By doing this, you will help the New England and Bermuda District get closer to their goal of $13,500 and you will be able to encourage your fellow classmates to make a difference in the lives of children in Vietnam.