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David Wilson travelled to Asia to find work/life balance. Now he’s changing the life of the Nguyen family

David started a fundraising campaign to build a home for Chi

Sometimes ordinary people do extraordinary things. One of these everyday heroes is David Wilson, a British journalist who was tired of the rat race and decided to set off on an adventure.

Little did he know that he was about to change the life of the Nguyen family. 

A new start

David grew up in Brighton, England, but had been living and working as a journalist for five years in Australia when he came to the realisation that it was time to do something completely different. In 2006 he jetted off to travel through South East Asia, before settling in Vietnam to work as a freelance journalist. 

12 years on, David is now based in Kep, Cambodia, where he enjoys a work/life balance most people only dream of. With improved technology and a changing job market, working remotely from anywhere in the world is only becoming easier.

But this story isn’t about David’s new way of living, it’s about how his travels steered him onto a path where he would make a real difference. So, let’s rewind the tape. 

Changing lives

Shortly after moving to Vietnam, David became close friends with a local woman, Qui Nguyen. Qui’s family was struggling, facing extreme poverty after losing their father to cancer. A fisherman by trade, he had provided the main source of income for the Nguyen family. Without these funds there was no way the family could pay for much-needed repairs for their home.

“The family’s home ispropped against a neighbour’s house. It’s effectively a mud shack in a terrible state of repair, with only three walls to provide basic shelter from the elements”, explains David. Flooding and strong winds are common during the wet season in Vietnam, which meant the shack was at constant risk of collapse. 

After learning of the family’s hardship, David set up a Go Fund Me page in order to crowdfund donations for a new home. “A friend of mine started a campaign for her cat and raised $800 towards veterinary fees. That was my light bulb moment, if you can raise money like that for a cat, I wondered how much can you raise for a family living in unspeakable poverty. So I thought; why not have a go?”

Fundraising for a new home

While David was very positive, bullish even, to begin with, raising money for the house proved to be more challenging than he had expected.

“I had no idea what it would be like. I thought it would be fairly easy to generate interest for a cause like this. Then I spoke to a friend who said that ‘if you can raise $3,000 you’d be doing really, really well’, and I think that was a reality check for me.”

“It’s been pretty though, I must say. There are all kinds of challenges in running a campaign like this that you simply wouldn’t know about until you start. First you have to prove to people that you’re not trying to scam them. Then you also have to start approaching people. It’s very difficult to ask your friends, friends of friends and the very outskirts of your network, for money. You have to really persevere. But then all of a sudden, someone kicks in with a quite sizeable donation.”

An anonymous donation

The breakthrough came when David was almost ready to give up; “There was quite a lot of interest but the contributions were generally smaller, and I started to think there was no way we would be able to reach our goal. I posted an update on the family’s situation, and the next morning when I logged in there was an anonymous donation of $1,950 sitting in my fundraising account. I couldn’t believe it at first and kept refreshing the page, but there it was!” 

After the generous donation, David was able to immediately start constructing of a small, basic brick dwelling that would keep the family safe and dry.

“When transferring the money for the construction, the security issue was a massive concern for me. OFX is trustworthy, and I just wanted everything to be as above board as possible so that the contributors would know that the money is getting there. The family also has minimal experience with finance, so I wanted to be able to tell them that I would get the money to them in a safe manner.”

OFX is trustworthy, and I just wanted everything to be as above board as possible so that the contributors would know that the money is getting there. The family also has minimal experience with finance, so I wanted to be able to tell them that I would get the money to them in a safe manner.

Building a permanent home

Qui is now employed as David’s assistant in Southeast Asia, but the rest of the family consisting of Qui’s mother, four brothers and her youngest sister (Chi) are now living in their new home. 

“Although the basic brick building we’ve built so far is more of a shelter and not somewhere the whole family can live in dignity, we had to get this structure up first as a collapse of the mud shack was so imminent. I’m incredibly happy with what we’ve achieved.”

The Go Fund Me page set up in February 2016 has raised just short of $4,400 to date, more than half of the target. David is now working on reaching his $6,700 goal, in order to start the construction of a permanent house, with enough room for the whole family. Although he has already made a tremendous impact for the family, David is determined to make a lasting change; “the money would mean everything to me and the family, securing their comfort and welfare for the indefinite future.”

David has been an OFX customer for years as his career as a freelance journalist involves him getting paid in multiple currencies, but we first learned of his story when he transferred the funds for the first house. We are more than excited for the day we will have the honour to transfer the proceeds of David’s completed Go Fund Me project.

Do you want to help David in his quest? Donate a few dollars or share their fundraising page to spread the word!

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