Dash Friendship Kindergarten
Dedication: March 2019
Project Sponsors: Rick and Karen McMichael
Thanks to the generous support of the McMichael family, the Dash Friendship Kindergarten in Coóc Village has been completed and was dedicated in March 2019!
The Dash Friendship Kindergarten is named in honor of Dorothy “Dash” McMichael, an incredibly dedicated advocate for equity, peace, and justice. Coming from a turbulent youth where she was passed from one relative to another after the death of her mother, Dorothy rose through adversity and graduated from New York University, later receiving her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Smith College. Exemplifying her devotion for helping those in need, she worked as a psychiatric social worker at various state hospitals and agencies. The passion of Dash and her husband, Jack McMichael even caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was especially supportive of their work and invited them for tea at her apartment in New York City. She is survived by her children, Rick, William, and Meimei. Today we remember Dash for her humanitarian heart, brilliance, and bright smile, as well as her lifelong love for dancing.
Coóc Village is in a high-need mountainous commune of Hương Hà District in Quảng Trị Province, and contains 7 villages, 492 households and 2,418 people; all but one household identifies as part of the Vân Kiều ethnic minority. About 55% of the village is officially recognized by the government as living below the poverty line and those living in Coóc village rely primarily on subsistence farming as their main source of income.
Of the 53 kindergarten-aged children in Coóc Village, only 14 previously attended kindergarten, and even then, those who did had to travel 2 kilometers each day to the nearest school. The Dash Friendship Kindergarten provides kindergarten-aged children in Coóc Village with the opportunity to receive a formal education and allows them to play in a safe space clear of unexploded ordnance. The ethnic minority children who attend the kindergarten will learn Vietnamese, and be given the tools necessary to nourish their early childhood education. The Dash Friendship Kindergarten had a dedication ceremony in March 2019 and will brighten and enrich the lives of those living in Coóc Village!
"The dedication of the school and the future it will create for so many children brings us deep gratitude to you, your village, PeaceTrees, and the ancestors we all share. Thank you." - Karen McMichael at the dedication ceremony.