July 2011 Vietnam Trip Report

(View photos of the trip.)

Our orphanage trip was a great success, even though it only lasted two weeks. We visited eight orphanages, a mental institution (Tr
i Điên), and children at a cancer hospital (Bnh Vin Ung Bu). Among the eight orphanages, two of them are the orphanages that we currently sponsor, Thiên Bình and Diu Giác, three orphanages are in Bà Rịa, Vũng Tàu, one is in Bình Chánh, one is in Hóc Môn, and another is in HChí Minh City. In addition to clothes and basic medicines like Tylenol and vitamins, we donated soccer balls, crayons, pens, and Frisbees to the children.

In the first week, we organized small feasts at our sponsored orphanges, Di
u Giác and Thiên Bình, for the children and care takers. We had a great time enjoying the party and bonding with the children. After that, Kathy Nguyn, one of the volunteers, spent a week at Thiên Bình teaching English, math, and playing with the children. Chương Ngô, another volunteer, also spent a full day at Thiên Bình with the children. On the other hand, Jessica Vũ and her young chidren, spent time with her sponsored child at Diu Giác. It was great to see the bonding and connections among our volunteers and the children. This was not only an opportunity for H4VO volunteers to bring joy to the children, but it was also a great way for the children to learn about H4VO at a personal level. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Kathy, Chương, and Jessica for being great H4VO's goodwill ambassadors on this trip.

We are pleased to report there has been a lot of great progress that Thiên Bình and Di
u Giác made in the last two years. For example, at Thien Binh, the children receive tutors afterschool to help them with homework. They also are taking full advantage of the computer lab that H4VO donated to them last year. In addition, they have a teacher who comes once a week to teach the middle school, and high school children separately in two group on how to use MS Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Each course is one year long, and they plan to add the basic web design and building (HTML) to the existing curriculum.

We also had the opportunity to watch some of the older kids showing off their vocational skills. Kathy and Ch
ương even sat down with some to learn the art of making flowers. Flowers made by the orphans are sold at the libraries to supplement the orphanage income. A few seventeen years old or older children are enrolled in carpentry and paper mill trainings at the local shops with the potential of being offered jobs there after the training. At Diu Giác, out of the five orphans who recently turned eighteen, one is in a vocational training, three are preparing for the college entrance exam, and one is still undecided.

Aside from Thiên Bình and Di
u Giác, we also visited other orphanages and talked to the administrators for better understanding the needs and the best way for H4VO to extend our assistance to other orphans beyond Thiên Bình and Diu Giác:
  • T Hạnh Temple manages an orphanage with seventy-six children. They are all are under sixteen years old, in which many of them are under five. Due to its vicinity being close to factories with poor surrounding population, the number of dropped off babies has increased in the last five years.
  • Vĩnh Phước Temple is another orphanage managed by the Buddhist nuns. It is a small place and isolated from the main road with only twelve orphan girls.
  • Rosa orphanage is managed by Nam Hưng Catholic Chuch. It is located in Hóc Môn with about thirty children.
  • PhHiền Temple orphanage is in Vũng Tàu. The head nun at PhHiền treats the orphans like her own children and does not even consider her facility as an orphanage. This is the best managed and organized orphanage with much welcome and hospitality. We often visited this orphanage in our previous trips to Vietnam to give mental support and respect. She often referred us to other orphanages that need support.
  • Bu Tích Ni Tu orphanage is in Vũng Tàu with thirty-seven children who are all girls. The children were studying during our visit. They learn Chinese in fifth grade. During this visit, we also made donation to fulfill their wish lists, including calculators, sandals, and books. This orphanage requires children to go through seven years of Buddhism theology, after which they can select their paths in life.
  • Tu Vin Thành Long orphanage is in Vũng Tàu with forty children who are all boys. This place is more isolated and does not get a lot of visitors.

Along the way, we also heard heart-breaking story of a father dropping off his baby at the orphanage, but then took her back after two months. The child later died due to insufficient care. It is our hope that as we expand H4VO sponsorship to new orphanages, stories like this can be avoided. By working with the administrators at our sponsored orphanages to improve the basic living conditions and offer long-term education, and career development, we hope that parents in destitution can find some comfort and hope in entrusting their children lives in the care of these orphanages.

Besides the orphanages, we also visited the Mental Institute (Tr
i Điên). We brought 500 kg of rambutan, tea bottles, bread, and cooked corns and handed them out directly to everyone. We also visited the children at the cancer hospital, and handed out cash, cookies, and candies to each of the children.

In summary, it was a short but very memorable trip for everyone. We were happy to meet the cheerful children and see significant progress at our sponsored orphanages. We are also glad to have the opportunity to learn and develop relationship with other orphanages. It is our great honor to be entrusted with your donations and support, and to see how our partnership is taking part in helping these orphans feel loved and be productive citizens! We also would like to relay the gratitude of the orphanage administrators to you for your support. Prior to H4VO, the orphanages occasionally received donations from visitors, but it is the long-term commitment from H4VO, through your donations and support, that enables them to implement the long-term education, and career development planning for the children.

We would like to thank our friends and volunteers for making this trip a productive and memorable experience. We would especially like to thank Ch
Ninh and Ch Vân for being our guides and providing us with great hospitality while in Vietnam; Kathy Nguyn, Chương Ngô, and Jessica Vũ for sharing invaluable moments with the children. Above all, we would like to thank every friend of H4VO. It was your support and generous donations that enable H4VO to bring the cheerful smiles and hope to the orphans.

ng Trn.