An entire year has elapsed since I came here to focus on Tam Ky.
Tam Ky has changed my life on so many levels and facets that it would be difficult for me to begin to describe how without turning this into a 5 page essay!
Old habits die easier than we think. And new ones form. No longer do I reach out for the tv or stock up excessively on junk food. No longer do I buy items without checking the price first and evaluating if I really NEED it or just want it.
I have grown accustomed to the car horns, motorbikes, water buffalo traffic jams, the chaos and flurry of the markets and vendors.
Can there be anywhere else in the world that is such an assault on the senses?
Those who know about the country just go about their daily business. But nothing can prepare the uninitiated for this riot of noise and colour, the heat , the motion, the perpetual teeming crowds.
Initially I was overwhelmed but gradually I realised it's like a wave. Resist and you will be knocked over . Dive into it and you will swim out the other side.
This was a new and different world for me. Nothing like the world I live in and am accustomed to. The challenge was to cope with it. And not just cope, but thrive....
I slowly adapted to my new environment. And when one does adapt my god the riches that are available!
A country with so much history, a country that has defied occupation by so many intruders. A country that has suffered greatly and yet still remain so positive. When I ask them if they are angry and hate the Americans in particular for what they have done to their people, they tell me no. Always optimistic, they answer by telling me that if it wasn't for the Americans the North and South would not have united. They focus on moving forward. Their focus is only on a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.
'How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don't?' Are common questions I receive.
I see the colours, the light, smiles, joy and the way people see life as a privilege and not a right. It teaches me something.
The only real failure is the failure not to try. And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must.
Can we be blamed if we are afraid to change? To scared of disappointment to start again? We get up in the morning and we do our best. Nothing else matters.
I have had numerous frustrations as you would have read in previous emails/blogs. But once I began looking at what I can do as opposed to what I couldn't achieve I saw things differently. Once I let go of all my pre conceived notions about this place and what I wanted it to be like, I found I was able to put my energy to better use. Yes I still feel like I take two steps forward and one step back but hey! T.I.V. as I get told..... This Is Vietnam....
Going through and reading past emails I only realise now how much WE have achieved. These children's lives have been drastically improved because of our combined efforts. Yes I am here on the ground, however, I would not have been able to do anything to help move these children forward without everyone's support and financial contributions.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing.
All I know about the future is that it will be different. Perhaps what I fear is that it will be the same. So I must celebrate the changes, however small.
Everything will be alright in the end. And if its not alright, then trust me, it's not the end.....
"This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It is, instead, the end of the beginning" – Winston Churchill.
A million thank you's are still nowhere near enough to my amazing, wonderful and supportive family and friends (and friends of friends who have donated and I have not personally met) as well as all the amazing volunteers I have met along the way ...... I could not have done it without any of you!!!!
I leave you with a summary slideshow of what we have helped changed....
* written with the help of Judi Dench...