Sunday, August 7, 2016

What you do speaks so loudly...

Visiting the other children who got moved to a different orphanage is always a different experience to where I am posted regularly.

I got here and even though I come alone with no translator, we still manage to communicate. The kids were excited to see me. And even more so, ALL the kids now recognise me and call my name. To be honest I was trying to keep my distance from this group as I couldn't possibly allow myself to fall in love with more children as I wouldn't be able to support them all. But these kids are pretty cool and I like hanging with them. I don't do big things for them as I don't have the funds for that,  but small things I can do. The other day I bought 60 ice creams and took them back for them. They were so grateful and excited by an ice block each.

The kids I know from Tam Ky, I just sit in their room as they do their thing and I thought to myself that I'm just wasting my time sitting here, not communicating with them, just observing what they do. But really, it must make some difference and when I say I'm leaving they get sad. And when I tell them I'll be back tomorrow they get excited.
Yesterday, I had two Aussie magazines with me that the lady next to me on the plane gave me. I took them out and we spent hours going through them. It was funny watching them compare the make up and fashion. Taylor Swift was on the cover of one and they love Tay Tay so everyone wanted to see her new boyfriend. I came back days later and some other kids were going through the magazines.
It was so simple. But in a place where you aren't allowed to leave and there is literally nothing to do, the magazines proved to be a hit.

It reminded me of the small things. And how these small gestures are actually greater bigger ones.
The security guard at night, I either caught him drunk and happy or in a good mood as I bought his son an ice cream too and he allowed me to take 12 kids out for dinner! I couldn't believe it!!!!! I told them all to hurry up and get out before he changed his mind. :)

We went to a street food lady where they ate bowls of noodles, laughed and joked with each other and then we went back. He only gave me 45 minutes with them. I wasn't going to argue, beggars can't be choosy!It was the best feeling sitting back and watching the children eat and laugh and joke with each other. I had a lump in my throat the entire time. I took a stool and sat behind them, kind of separately. And straight away, they noticed and they all shuffled their stools and moved me to be in the inner circle with them.

The pimple that grew.....

Ngan has a growth on her face. I saw it 9 weeks ago when I was here and thought it may have been an infected pimple and left it, thinking it will heal on its own. Well, I was wrong. It's grown and its oozing a milkish pale yellow fluid.

The nurse just laughed at me when I said she needs a Dr. She said it's gotten smaller so don't worry about it. I said it's actually grown and she needs a Dr!!! Fell on deaf ears and so I took it higher to the Director. Showed her a picture of it and then she allowed me to take her to the Dr.

Ngan got excited when we told her she was going into the car for a ride. Poor girl thought this was going to be a fun adventure.

She loved sitting in the surgery waiting room as there was a TV and she kept inching closer to it to watch. In the dentist chair, she fought at first but then was really good at opening her mouth and letting the Dr see. It's definitely an abscess growing from her terribly decayed teeth and infected gum.

Ngan will need a hospital visit and surgery to fix it. Thank goodness to mission: nampossible donations who could do this for her. I cannot imagine how painful this abscess is....

Every summer has a story...

As always when I come for summer holidays we go swimming. 34 children A DAY die from drowning in Vietnam. Getting them used to the water is good for them.

A head of local government asked me why I 'waste' my money on taking the children out and why I don't do bigger projects with my money like install more clean water tanks, buy more cows etc.

I replied that I did not 'waste' my money.

I told him I balanced my spending's on buying cows, installing clean water systems, paying for children's education, vaccination programs etc with taking the children out and showing them joy.

Who else does that?  I explained that children's self esteem and emotional state is just as important as everything else. When they get back to school from holidays and everyone is talking about what they did over the break, at least all these kids can now join in and say 'yeah! I went swimming and ate at restaurants too!' and feel good about themselves. They are ostracised enough and labelled as orphans, give the kids something. C'mon!

I don't need to write loads here. The pics say it all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Can you keep a #secret ?

Let's go walking...

Hey there. Don't mind me. Just taking my phone pal out for a walk. #sodamncute #missionnampossible #thanksfordonating #volunteering #charity

I get by with a little help from my friends...

When you have one carer to 10 babies, you recruit helpers! One is bottle feeding and the other is changing a nappy! These guys may be #orphans but they are also a #family who care and are always looking after each other. #kidslookingafterkids #loveeachother #compassion #nurturing #missionnampossible

Every reunion is a type of heaven...

It's been 10 weeks since I gave this Princess a hug. She was listening to my voice and holding onto me as I spoke to her. She even babbled back in Vietnamese tones!!! That's something new my Sen has learnt. #reunion #love #youdontneedeyestolove #charity #kindnessmatters

Game On!

Games night:

I would go stir crazy in 42 degree heat with 70 % humidity with 55 others in a place with nothing to do!
I brought colouring in and blocks and games and we had a night in at the orphanage.
It makes my heart sing when I see they all engaged and getting along.
I brought 'trouble' tonight to teach them. It proved to be a hit and with my very limited Vietnamese and their non existent English, we managed to get the rules understood. Without even allowing them, I actually lost and they thought it was hilarious. They loved it so much they asked me if they could keep it overnight. I allowed them as long as it came back to me tomorrow with every piece intact. And true to their word, they did.
Next games night: twister!!!!

The writing's on the wall...

Brought paint to the kids today. One decided to graffiti something about me on the wall. #graffiti #kidslove #orphanage #charity #volunteering #missionnampossible

You're a diamond dear, they can't break you...

This is Grandma. She fought in the Vietnam War and consequently lost her leg. She has no husband and no children. She lives here at the disability shelter. She loves to sing and is always asking me to sneak her in a beer. #hero #strongladysheis

Love me! Protect me! Inject me!

 91 #vaccines were administered this morning. Thanks to all who donated to #missionnampossible to get this #vaccinationproject going after the death of three of our beloved boys earlier this year. #vaccineswork #charity #donationspaidforthis #orphanage #vietnam #healthiswealth #chickenpox #MMR #meningococcalbandc

Let your smile change the world...

His smile is infectious. He is kind and he cares for his fellow residents. He is happy to sit on the sidelines and approach an activity only when offered to join in. When the bus comes to pick everyone up to go out of the shelter and eat at a restaurant, he smiles widely, jumps on the spot and claps his hands. Then he turns to me and hugs and squeezes me very tightly before he gets on the bus. After the meal out, he shakes my hand before he gets back on the bus. And still, after years, we have never spoken a word to each other. My mute friend and I understand each other perfectly. #nowordsneeded #missionnampossible #love #charity #charitywork #volunteer #vietnam #communicationthroughgestures #nonverbalcommunication

My ability is stronger than my DISability

This is my friend Cong. He is in his forties and his body is literally stuck in this position. His brain works fine but because his body doesn't, and his physical disability also affects his speech, people disregard him and ignore him. When I walk in now, he says 'Na' for Anna. He gestures for me to go over and sit with him where he smiles continuously. If you spend time with him, he can actually accomplish some things with your support. Check out his block construction. He was so proud. Spent 45 minutes on it. #communicationthroughgestures #love #kindnessmatters #missionnampossible #itsthesmallthings #volunteer #charitywork #vietnam #justbecauseiamdisableddoesntmeaniamweakinanyway

You are never fully dressed without a smile...

She is a tiny 2 year old who has had open heart surgery. This little fighter has a myriad of health concerns, yet still smiles courageously. #missionnampossible #orphanage #openheartsurgery #healthiswealth #smilee #smile❤

Clean water is the first step to lifting communities out of cycles of illness and poverty

Many many thanks to Rotary Glenhaven who have helped me install clean water systems for two school in the Tien Phuoc District of Vietnam.

The preschool has 300 students a week, where 100 pupils attend each day. There are also 22 teachers who work here.  It has been open since 2009 and they have been boiling water up to now to cook with and give to children.

Ms Lan is the Director of the high school that opened last year which also received a clean water system. The school has 164 students from Grade 6-9 as well as 22 teachers.
There was no water at this school. Children were bringing a bottle from home each day. This was the only source of water they had. Water here is mainly used for toilet and practical tasks in science etc. The school has access to a well and by installing the clean water system, the well is now used as a community tool as well so another nearby nursery school and community school can also access.

Too much fruit causes health....

This is how we #buyfruit in #vietnam. #sideoftheroad. Notice Mrs Hanh is also on the phone conducting #business for her restaurant at the same time.

Good Food, Good Mood.....

#dinnertime for me and 35 of my special people after fun at a play land. Thanks to donations to #missionnampossible this outing for the #orphans was possible. #joy #summerholidays #nemnuong #35kidsate800meatonsticks #vietnamesefood #vietnam #charity #charitywork #myhappyplace #lovethesekidssomuch


It's all about #inclusion and #breakingstereotypes here. These boys loved creating, sewing, gluing together this Russian doll activity set. Thank you for this @sandandstories - your art and craft donations from that long ago are still going strong and helping these children! #charity