Early Years

The concept of a foundation to raise funds to assist in improving the educational aspirations of the impoverished children of Vietnam, was a long held dream of Father Peter Hung Manh Tran. Father Peter, a Redemptorist priest, migrated to Australia as a refugee in 1982.

During 1995, Father Peter explored the notion of establishing a group of interested people with the aim of raising money to assist impoverished young people in Vietnam participate in tertiary education. Initially, Father Peter canvassed and received support from within the Vietnamese community in Western Australia. At the same time he informally discussed the idea with Mark Norman, a member of the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross, who saw great merit in the proposal. In early 1996, Mark Norman, a State Councillor, presented the concept at a meeting of the Order’s State Council with the aim of seeking their involvement in the project.

The project reflected the Order’s objectives, given its involvement in the establishment of the University of Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle, in 1990, and the KSC Education Foundation in 1992. The Order decided to further investigate the project with the intention of providing support in collaboration with the Vietnamese community of Western Australia. After much consultation, the Order agreed to publicly support the project. At the subsequent State Conference of the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross, held on 22 October 1996, Father Peter gave the Keynote Address on the subject of Vietnam.

Father Peter organised a meeting at the Redemptorist Monastery in North Perth on 12 October 1996 to discuss the formation of a foundation. Those present at the meeting included: Bianca Cheong, Lien Hoang, Father Francis Ca Ly, Joseph Quang Nguyen, Khoi Nguyen, Mark Norman, John Staude, Father Peter Hung Manh Tran and Neville Ward. At this meeting, a Board of Management was formed.

The office bearers elected at this meeting include:

Chairman Neville Ward
Vice Chairman Khoi Nguyen
Secretary Bianca Cheong
Treasurer Anne Totten
Board Members Lien Hoang
Joseph Quang Nguyen
Mark Norman
Jimmy On
Founder and Chaplain Father Peter Hung Manh Tran C.Ss.R

At this meeting, three names were suggested for the proposed foundation. After much discussion, it was agreed by the Board of Management that the foundation would be called the Overseas Aid Fund for the Education of Children in Vietnam (OFEC).

The Board of Management worked with John Staude, Barrister and Solicitor, in the development of a draft constitution. The draft constitution was approved by the Board and an application for the incorporation of OFEC was made. During this time, OFEC received valuable advice from Jerry Donovan, Accountant, and Brad Prentice, Solicitor and State Chairman of the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross. It was because of the early work conducted by John, Jerry and Brad that the legal entity of OFEC came to be.

The Overseas Aid Fund for the Education of Children in Vietnam was incorporated on 5 June 1997 in accordance with the provisions of the Associations Incorporations Act 1987.

Since the inaugural meeting, the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross has provided generous sponsorship and an administrative base for OFEC. It has publicly supported the Foundation by the use of the Order’s logo on the OFEC stationery, and has made available the State Office, boardroom, its address, telephone, and its post box as the location for OFEC.

During the latter part of 1998, it was decided to organise a fund raising dinner to increase the financial resources of the foundation, in providing scholarships to students in Vietnam. The function was held on 18 June 1999 at the Golden Swan Chinese Restaurant in Northbridge. Approximately 200 guests attended the evening with the special guest being the Most Reverend Robert Healy DD VG, Auxiliary Bishop.

The success of OFEC was recognised by the Vatican. On 16 June 2000, Peter Lewis, State Chairman of the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross, presented a framed document to OFEC Chairman Neville Ward. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, had imparted his apostolic blessings to the Founder, Chairman, and members of the Board of Management of OFEC. This Papal Blessing was a significant tribute to the work of the Foundation.