3 new children this week (newborn, 6 year old and 7 year old) brings us to a total of 71 children. When I first got here in 2010, there were only 33. Hmmmmmm.......
Slowly, we are getting there. Someone has to teach the children and instill in them values and social expectations.Stealing is not on, looking after possessions and sharing is a skill they must learn. I have recently been leaving games at the orphanage - a huge trust factor in this considering everything goes missing or gets stolen! I leave one game a day with the older boys. I explain to them that if they can watch this game for me, return it to me the next day with all pieces intact, then I will keep swapping games over for them and leaving them here for them to play when we go. One week in and it has worked really well. I am proud of them. They run up to me and hand me the game, i check all is there, thank them and let them choose another to keep for the night. we did have one incident where one of the younger boys went and stole a piece from the chess set and threw it over the fence. His actions earned him a good old hiding from the older boys. They seem to have their own retribution system and pecking order in there. This little boy was new to the orphanage and so I think is still learning what he can and cant do. Stealing a piece from an older boy and throwing it over the fence.... I do not think he will be doing that again in a hurry. I told them not to worry about the piece and I explained to the little one that he cannot throw pieces of toys over the fence or take things that are not his without asking. I did not penalise them for that missing piece, so have continued to give them different games through out the days.
We have had quite a few families visiting their children which has been lovely to see. Every parent at Peace Village has spent time with their disabled child and I got to meet them and they were all welling up and crying as I told them how beautiful their child was. They just kept squeezing my hands and saying thank you. One mother was so excited to see her son Tri walking in a frame. He could not do that before coming to Peace Village and was beaming with pride as she watched her son in the walker we have for him take steps.
Sometimes I question if whether some visits from families are beneficial or just cause more pain to these children. Of course I would love for parents to keep up a connection with their child, even if they cannot afford to have them at home. One mother (who is rumored to be a prostitute) comes and visits her 4 year old girl often. Every time she shows up and leaves, little Vy is hysterical. She cries and cries and is so sad for a while after. A 4 year old cannot understand why she has a mother, yet still has to stay at the orphanage and cannot go home with her. The mother asked me today if Vy is always sad, because every time she comes to see her, she is sad. I wanted to tell her that she is sad because of you! She is sad because she misses you. Yet, I am sure the mother is dealing with her own grief and feelings of guilt of leaving her there and so it's not up to me to make her feel worse about her predicament. I explained to her in my limited Vietnamese that Vy was actually very happy and always playing and she was very clever. i told her I would print out some pictures and leave with the Director for her to take next time she comes. She seemed grateful.
Darling Tram has been in the orphanage since she was born 10 years ago. She has a sister who is at home and a brother who used to be at the orphanage but is now back at home with mum and a new husband.
Tram's mother came to visit and I was watching from afar with tears in my eyes as her mother showed off her brand new baby to Tram. Tram now has a half sister. She was just amazing playing with her and chatting to her mum. A few times I noticed a distant look in Tram's eyes and could only warrant a guess as to what she was thinking. How can she go off and have more children and leave Tram behind? If she can afford to have another child, why not take Tram home instead of popping out another one!!!!! ??????
I am judging, I know. It's wrong, I know. But I cannot help it. I am in a state of vexation when I think about it, when I think of poor Tram at the orphanage thinking about all her other siblings back at home. Why is she the one who got left behind?
On a happy note, I was fortunate again to have my birthday here with the children second year in a row. I was so touched with the children, who have nothing but still thought of presents they could give me. Some girls made boxes for me out of paper, some found old tissue boxes and old notebook wrapping paper to give me my present in. All taped together with band aids as sticky tape is non existent. Tram gave me one of her skirts as a present.(I wore it on my actual party night and she was glowing). I got many bracelets and about 1000 mini paper cranes they had painstakingly made to line the boxes and my presents. The younger girls drew pictures for me and I got about 50 Vietnamese love letters.... even the boys ran up to me quickly, grabbed my arm, put a bracelet on it and said 'sinh nhat anna" (happy birthday!) and ran away shyly.... the younger girls had nothing to give me, so wrapped up their hair clips and gave them to me as gifts. I was truly touched. I dont think I could have been happier if I was given a brand new car or a million dollars.
Peace Village bought me a cake and Son, god bless him, got some money from his family and then sent out one of the admin staff to go and buy me a card and flowers. We ate sinh to, everyone got a cake, we danced, sang and every one was happy.
Baby orphanage got a feast of food Mrs Hanh our wonder cook made.... they got to eat shrimp and crab and pork.... the kids were licking their bowls to ensure every last drop of the soup was consumed.
I bought all the baby girls dresses and dressed them up and Sen was the belle of the ball I must say!
After 3 parties, 5 huge cakes, 100 mini cakes, ice cream , sinh to (smoothies) and a gigantic feast, everyone went to bed satisfied and happy!
I must say, I may have to bike ride all the way back to Sydney to burn off the cream and cakes I consumed on my birthday..... you think I am exaggerating? I ate half a cucumber and a tomato for lunch (it was THAT hot, I didnt have appetite to eat) and then skipped dinner because yes, I am still fussy and I do not eat crab and shrimp and pork... so I ate like 5 pieces of cake for dinner. Then for after dinner entertainment, at the adults party there was MORE cake..... and to really gross you all out, guess what was leftover and eaten at breakfast? :)
PS. Birthday pics for those not on my facebook:
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