Thursday, January 26, 2017

Preconceived notions affect our attitude and behaviour towards others

January 2017.

I am constantly trumped by the disabled and agent orange affected residents of Peace Village. They always prove to me that humans do have blockages and preconceived notions in their minds. They make me question;
Where do we get these from? How have they formed?

I think our preconceived notions affect our attitude and behaviour towards others. Especially towards people with disabilities.  Society hasn't always been kind to such individuals.... often they have been victimised, stigmatised, ostracised and discriminated against.
Dr Allan Schwartz believes that "the problem of holding preconceived notions as being true is that they can lead us to very negative and critical beliefs about others and that can affect our behaviors toward others".

I see this many times in relation to individuals with a physical disability.  A physical disability does not also translate to a cognitive one! Just because they lack the motor control and their speech is sometimes affected, doesn't mean they have impaired brain functioning.

My beautiful friends here at Peace Village are examples of this. The ones with severe physical disabilities are ignored and left sitting in an empty room or cot, despite the fact they have typical intelligence.

My friend Cuong has a severe physical disability but if you have the patience to sit with him and allow him time to express what he wants to, he will. I understand him now: he always says hello and asks me how I am.

I only bring basic things to do: some colouring in, spinning tops, painting with water, blocks.... things I know their fingers can handle.... but this brightens up their day so much! Otherwise, it's endless hours staring at a crackling tv, the ceiling or the wall.


I made a new friend this trip. Phuong.

At first I thought she was mute as she always nodded at me but never uttered a word.
I do not know her diagnosis, but it is clearly something physical. She gets around by shuffling, so I know she can't stand up. One side of her body seems to be affected more than the other.

I watched her for over 40 min showering and then putting on her clothes with one hand.
I wanted to jump in and help but I stood back as I didn't want to imply that she couldn't do it by herself... she clearly does this everyday alone.... and I didn't want her to think that I thought she couldn't.... if that makes sense.

I watched the carers and other residents say things to her and she replies with a nod or shake of the head or a point of the finger.

She understands alright.
She holds onto a hat and in the hat she has put all her worldly possessions: a few crayons, part of a comic book, a few random plastic block pieces and some candy. She clings to this for dear life.

After about a week of going and saying hello to everyone, the nod was accompanied with a 'xin chao'. I got a Hello! I stopped walking!!!!
I got down to her level and asked her how she was and she said she was fine. She asked me and I said I was happy.
I asked her her name and she told me Phuong. She then told me she was 20 years old.

From this our friendship has developed.
We sit and colour and paint and build. When she is finished she asks me to take her photo and then she looks at it and giggles.

These moments.... I cannot explain what they do to me..... I go back to missionnampossible's motto: doing something is better than nothing.

Peace Village teaches me that it is better to have an open mind about other people and to not allow ourselves to be guided by beliefs founded on stereotypes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Be the change you want to see in the world...

In the last six years I have received many 'merit' certificates and 'heart of gold' certificates to say thank you for all our #charity efforts.  But this trip, I have also received a very special and rarely issued (so I was told) #certificate of excellence from the Head of the Local Government, People's Committee of Quang Nam Province.
I accepted this on behalf of everyone who has supported #missionnampossible. I may be the face and present body here, but really none of it is possible without all of you and your #support.
They have acknowledged all the wonderful things we do at the #orphanages as well as our support of the poor in disadvantaged communities from supporting #cleanwater projects, buying food, bicycles, cows and paying for educational scholarships. #keepingchildrenoutoforphanages

Monday, January 23, 2017

“Learning is a treasure which accompanies its owner everywhere.” Chinese Proverb

January 2017.

"A positive learning climate in a school for young children is a composite of many things.  It is an attitude that respects children.  It is a place where children receive guidance and encouragement from the responsible adults around them.  It is an environment where children can experiment and try out new ideas without fear or failure.  It is an atmosphere that builds children’s self-confidence so they dare to take risks.  It is an environment that nurtures a love of learning" ~ Carol B. Hillman (20th Century), U.S. early childhood educator.  Creating a Learning Climate for the Early Childhood Years, Fastback Series (1989).

Further into Que Son, another mountainous district of #centralvietnam, a preschool resides across the road from lots of vegetation.

3-5 year olds attend every day, sit in a semi circle and listen to a teacher recite information which they have to parrot back. This happens for six hours a day!!!!!

Jason and I brought lots of educational resources and games that were #donated to #missionnampossible up here to show the teachers here a different way of educating children.

We had so much fun teaching them games and watching their joy.

I sat back and observed the children amidst the role modelling and giving instructions and it really struck how fortunate our children in Australia are.
It took quite a few attempts to get the 4-5 year olds to understand what the dice was and how to play snakes and ladders.

Explaining a 'snap' game was also a challenge... they understood the basic concept eventually but they decided that they would go through their cards in their pile and find the matching one on top of the 'snap' pile to add whenever they found one and then 'snap' the pile.

It was truly interesting to watch from an early childhood and developmental level.

The #teachers were very grateful and we hope that our #charity and donation have #madeadifference to the way this #preschool engages in #educationalpractices.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

There is nothing more important than having our basic needs met

Opposite the #ricefields, down a dirt road is a small #orphanage which does not receive government support. #Donations are its only source of income.

I am so proud that #rotary  #rotaryinternational and #rotaryglenhaven helped me and #missionnampossible build a block of #toilets and showers for this place.

Before these toilets and showers, the children would relieve themselves out in nature and baths were taken by having cold water splashed over them from  giant water tubs.

It was a huge project which took months to complete. Four toilets and two showers are now complete and the children are enjoying a basic human necessity.

A very happy and grateful Director