Jan Peeters spent 30 years in the construction industry running his own successful business, but ten years ago he gave it up to start a new life. Arriving in Vietnam in 2007 he initially intended travelling the country and enjoying a simpler life, but quickly fell in love with the optimism of the people and the dynamic of the rapidly developing country.
Struck by the generous hospitality of the Vietnamese, many of whom were living in poverty, he felt compelled to give something back to the people who had welcomed him so warmly. Aware that just a small amount of money could create a huge impact, Jan wanted to create something tangible where the results were easy to see. He decided to build a school.
Looking for local partners who could help him with his vision he found a small group of nuns in Pleiku, caring for twenty or so local orphans and struggling to make ends meet. The kids were housed in a small shed on a local coffee plantation and Jan persuaded the nuns to donate 4,000 square feet for him to build a small paradise for the children.
Returning home to Belgium, Jan shared his ideas with friends and family and soon had raised more than enough to fulfil his goal and the founding of Live and Give. He returned to Vietnam, found a contractor and started building in 2009, with every penny raised going directly towards his project. The first boarding school he built now houses more than 100 kids, each of which is provided food, clothing, school books, and an education for their future.
Since building the first school, Live and Give have built a new kindergarten for young minority kids aged three to six. Run by the nuns from Saint Paul the Chartes, the school provides essential education to ethnic minorities who do not speak Vietnamese as a first language, helping to build bridges between the Jai Rai people and local Vietnamese.
With the help of more donations, especially from Bru Textiles who give enough to build a new school each year, Jan and Live and Give have built a professional bakery near the orphanage in Thien An. The bread helps generate an income to help fund the other projects and now employs two professionally trained bakers who bake fresh bread daily for the kids to enjoy.
Now Jan has built schools, a library, bakery, sports hall and computer lab, as well as planted a vegetable garden to ensure the children have access to fresh vegetables. More donations have meant Live and Give have been able to buy two cars to help transport children and nuns around the local area. They are also used by the nuns to visit local leper colonies who are dependent on the nuns for support.
A modest man, Jan takes nothing for himself, funding the day-to-day operations from his own pocket and his Vietnamese business, Deco Crete. With help from others he is continuing his work to bring welcome opportunity to the disadvantaged children of Vietnam.