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Sara Stevens: Founder of Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund

Rock-Paper-Scissors Children’s Fund encourages students in Vietnam to stay in school through fun arts classes, a bike program, and more. Rock-Paper-Scissors is a family-run organization that is dedicated to providing on-the-ground support to kids in rural, underserved communities in Vietnam. Learn more about their work here!


What inspired you and your daughters to start Rock-Paper-Scissors?


My late husband and I adopted our daughters from Vietnam in 1999 and 2001. We always wanted to bring our daughters back to Vietnam so they could be familiar with their culture. Starting in 2011, my daughters and I spent 8 months living and volunteering in Vietnam. When we returned, we started our own nonprofit to provide after school music and art classes. We wanted to encourage kids to stay in school by providing them with mentorship from incredible local teachers and a place where they could learn, make friends, and have fun.


How do your programs help inspire a love of learning and arts?


There are 75-125 girls and some boys who come to us 2-3 days a week for music or art classes. For music, we teach violin, cello, and bucket drumming. Kids can come starting when they are 6 years old, and many stay for up to 10 years. We have a bike program that started because so many kids there use bikes as transportation to get to and from school. We wanted girls to have access to bikes so that they could ride to school from rural areas instead of walking, which makes it more likely for them to stay in school. We also provide scholarships, uniforms, and textbooks for students who can’t afford them.


Can you tell me about what life is like for students in the communities where you work?


There are over 50 ethnic minority communities in Vietnam, and we work primarily with 2 of them. These are communities that are ostracized by the government and are very poor with few resources available to them. The village school only goes up to the 5th grade, and if students want to continue education beyond that then they have to go to a boarding school that is 2 hours away. If they want to go to high school, it’s a different boarding school even further away. Students in Vietnam have to pass rigorous tests to move on to the next grade level, so it’s important that they stay on track. We provide tutoring so that kids don’t fall behind and stay motivated to remain in school. In all of our years, no girls that we work with have dropped out of school.


What is your favorite part of your job?


It was really important to me and my late husband that our daughters get to know Vietnam, and it’s incredible that they’ve been able to do so through Rock-Paper-Scissors. They have learned so much about their culture that they can carry with them. We’ve been able to spend a lot of time there and it’s great to see kids grow and learn over the years. It’s so wonderful to work on this with the help of my daughters, who are still involved in the organization.



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