Family trip in Vietnam - episode 5: the LifeStart Foundation

attractions - Hoi An: May 23, 2014

Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer.Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures.

Creating Art and Opening the Heart:  A Visit to the LifeStart Foundation

The lifetart foundation

What if I told you one can spend half a day immersed in the arts and at the same time help make the lives of women more secure and full of purpose. Would you do it?

An important aspect of our heritage tour is giving our family an opportunity to support humanitarian efforts to help the less fortunate in Vietnamese society.

LifeStart Foundation’s work enabling women with disabilities to learn income generating skills to support themselves and their families proved a way to do this creatively and impactfully.

LifeStart founded in 2000 by Australian Karen Leonard is largely volunteer run. Women in the program’s workshop create scarves, jewelry, clothing, handbags, accessories and fair trade items for purchase at their store in Hoi An and online at

The lifetart foundation

After breakfast, we board a smallboat to visit one of Hoi An’s nearby islands to learn traditional painting by local artist and LifeStart Foundation recipient, Sinh Trong. Another two women, both “ex-pats,”  teaching in Hanoi, roundout our group for the half-day tour. 

Time stopped as our small group learned to hold paintbrushes, apply small amounts of Chinese ink, and create works of art on handmade paper. Sinh, our teacher,  assures us we will all be fine artists at the end of the session and delivers nicely on this promise in a lively, enjoyable and fun two-hour session.

The lifetart foundation

Afterwards we return to LifeStart ‘s store front in Hoi An town to learn about the organization’s fine work, meet some of their clients and spend several hours making small lanterns, drinking tea and supporting their mission.

Working through the creative arts to both transform thel ives of its clients and offer a relational form of giving to supporters is a rich and meaningful experience.  It could well be the future of philanthropy which is personal, respectful and most important, relational.

The lifetart foundation

The sister of our guide long affected by a disability is one of LifeStart’s client artisans; so it was a personal testimony of the organization’s enormous impact.  We will be coming home with far more than her note cards and bookmarks.  Our eyes have been opened and our hearts touched. 

Writer: Kathleen Brown

Other articles written by Kathleen:

Family trip in Vietnam - 1st episode: Enter the Dragon

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 2: Cai Rang Water Opera

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 3: Hoi An ancient town

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 4: Hoi An Countryside

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 5: the LifeStart Foundation

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 6: Hoi An Cooking Class

Family trip in Vietnam - episode 7: Project Runway in Hoi An

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 8: Water Puppets - Vietnam's Original Muppets

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 9: Time to Cha Cha with the Chả Cá

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 10: A Visit to the Hung Kings Citadel and Au Co Ancestral Site

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 11: Our Visit to the Perfume Pagoda

Family trip in Vietnam - Episode 13: Saigon Street Eats

Family trip in Vietnam - Final Episode: An Afternoon in Cholon

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