I have been riding my bicycle 14km to the orphanage and back home again every day. Thats about 14km of dusty roads, maneuvering pot holes, water buffalo's, big trucks and other fellow bike riders - both pedal and motor. I always arrive at the orphanage covered in a layer of dirt and the kids laugh at me when I take my sunnies off and see where the dirt has left a ring. We then spend a minute or two trying to wash my face and wetting my top cos I am so hot and need to cool down. This is apparently very funny to the younger ones. Clearly they have never heard of wet tshirt competitions. This and the incessant heat got me thinking and on a whim, I went out and bought 70 water guns. WATER FIGHT!!!!! I know, I know, I should know better as a teacher but really, this heat is driving me mad so I have an excuse, I mean a reason for it! The children call me 'com com din din' which means 'crazy' and some days I tend to agree with them! I was bracing myself for a tell off by the mothers for getting all the children wet but even the carers were laughing at me as I was ganged up on by the boys who took aim and had me as their target. It was cute to see even little 2 year old Huy try get in on the action and would hold his gun out and try to wet his fellow friends. When I pulled the guns out again for a second water fight the week after, we had strategies and action plans in place and the girls got the boys good. In the end I got caught for aiding both sides and the punishment was me standing up against the wall unarmed mind you, with all the boys and girls aiming their guns to me and emptying their cartridges. I think my squealing could be heard in the next village!
Handing out fruit is still a mission here. Volunteer who draws the short straw gets to hand it out. It's all on for fruit. They do anything to try scam a third or fourth piece. They love it so much and yet, fruit is still a commodity here.Fruit is something 'extra' and without donations from kind volunteers, fruit would not be served to them. We are very lucky to have enough money for fruit for all the children at both placements; thats 100 children that get fruit every day, every day of the month. All for the price of $100. That's about 3000 pieces of fruit a month!
We managed to take BO and PV out for excursions but the highlight one had to be the soccer game for the boys. I was predicting chaos and losing one of them at least but after a rocky start, all was well. My heart breaks when we arrive at the orphanage with the list of 9 boys that we were taking as all the other boys stand by the bus pleading and asking if they could come to. They point to themselves and try to get in at the last minute. It would be impossible to take all 40 boys out at once and with my limited Vietnamese explain to the ones left behind that they will come out next trip. I caved last minute with a few of them and from 9, we ended up with 13 boys I counted initially. As the bus took off, little did I know that cheeky little Chang got out from underneath the seat and sat very quietly looking straight ahead. I noticed him when I went to do head count number 2 and we had 14 boys. I began to chastise him immediately. The bus stopped. This trip was for all the boys who have been listening and trying hard. Let's just say that 5 year old Chang is not in this category and I was prepared to turn the bus around and take him back. Yep, someone needs to be bad cop and give them tough love. Moon, the other volunteer with me, convinced me not to as we were running late and so he ended up coming after a big lecture about his behaviour. For being sneaky, he misses out on the next 3 outings. Yes I know, I am the big bad wolf. If I let him get away with it, then all the other boys would get ideas that they too can misbehave, sneak onto the bus and there would not be any repercussions.
The boys loved the game, their eyes were glued to the ball, scrutinizing the players, making predictions as to game play etc. We were sitting behind the goal post and in true Vietnamese style, there were no barriers enclosing the game. Which means that every time the ball was down our end and they would attempt a goal, someone in the crowd got smacked in the head. After the game we went and had a drink and before I could say anything, they had opened the bottles on the tables. Oh Boy, we were taking back some very hyper boys as the bottles on the table were all red bulls and energy drinks! We ate our street food and happily got back on the bus where the boys sang all the way home.Their singing brought tears to my eyes. An outing so simple, yet had so much meaning for them.
Another huge improvement we helped instigate was installing a well at Peace Village. Sometimes Tam Ky has water shortages and they can go for days and weeks without clean water. We dug a well all the way to the bottom of the jar and have accessed the water underground. This water then gets converted with the pump and the purifier and they have clean drinking, cooking, bathing water all the time. A long term investment and one that will help their daily lives immensely. Many thanks to John & Lyn Quilty and their donors for providing funds for this project.
June saw us have a very successful month and the children received many things they needed. I cannot say this enough, but a thousand thank you's could not be said to all of you generous people who have made this possible for me to provide to them.
I shall leave you all with this image: the girls walk home from school at about 10.30am and on their walk up they pick fresh flowers from the side of the road and without fail, upon arrival at the centre, they give me a bunch and then add a few behind my ear and pin one to my hair clip. I get great big sweaty cuddles and huge smiles as they go off to unload their school bags and change. This tiny gesture full of significance which occurs non verbally has become part of my weekly rituals. These girls and their consideration make my heart swell. I sigh, look up to the sky above and send my gratitude. Bliss.
For those of you not on my facebook, below are the links for photos from BO and PV.