Friday, January 4, 2013

First Impressions through the eyes of a 15yr old...

Day One in Vietnam
In Vietnam, every trip from point A to B could be your last.
It is almost impossible to describe the pure terror that is the
roads of Vietnam. Hundreds of bikes swerve aimlessly, back
and forth. ‘Lanes’ clearly aren’t as important here. The most
used item is the horn, and the drivers beep constantly in the
hope that the bikers will move to let them through. Usually,
they do. Trucks overtake bigger trucks by driving on the
wrong side of the road, straight at oncoming traffic. To get
a bus to stop, the taxi driver pulled up in front of it as we
were moving, stopped, took the key out of the engine and
beeped repeatedly. In the middle of the road. And yet no
one seemed to care.
Eventually, we made it to our first destination. Social
Support is a community that has been created by the
Government to house homeless people. There are roughly
150 people currently living there. Many, if not most, of the
children have some sort of disability, whether physical or
mental. Some cannot move from their bed without the help
of two incredible people, Mr. T and Mr. P, both of whom
volunteer at this community. It was truly heart wrenching to
watch these kids, who were unlikely to ever leave their cots.
And yet, each and every child I met had a huge grin on their
face. Even those who could not move gave us a smile.
These kids, even going through the terrible experiences that
many of them had, were happy. Each person in this
community is fed on $18 a month (360,000 Dong). While the
money we raised will not go specifically towards this
community, there are so many like it that it will help. If we
have left over funds, we may even pay Mr. T a salary,
allowing him to work at the community more often.
A grueling hour and a half drive later, during which my life
flashed before my eyes no less than fourteen times, and
after checking in to our hotels, we went out for our first
proper Vietnamese meal. ‘Banh Xeo’ was, at a glace, a pigsty.
Food littered the floor. A mouse-sized cockroach
scampered past. We sat, unsure of what was to come. First,
a brown and black sauce was put in front of use. Then,
sheets of paper. Lastly, what looked to be several kilos of
omelet. After learning the
basics of Vietnamese eating,
we were truly into the
culture. Halfway through
my meal, a stray dog
appeared, eating our table
scraps. While this was only
one room of the building,
through a door we could
see the rest of the owner’s
family. We were literally eating in their kitchen.