Volunteering at the Orphanage
Cu Chi Travel Blog› entry 32 of 46 › view all entries
My words on this computer screen could NEVER ever describe the feelings and emotions that the orphanage experience offered. You'll have to ask me in person to get an inkling of the power of this moment in time.
Day #1: I showed up at the orphanage and met the director who was completely blind. As a 10-year old boy, he was a victim of a land mine (from our sad war) while digging up a tree to build his family's house. To see a young blind man running an orphanage is something quite powerful.
When I arrived on day #1, he excitedly informed me that the next two weeks were "Tet" - the Vietnamese New Year - and every year he takes the children to his family's farm house in the countryside. We would be leaving in the morning.
And so, at 7am, I piled into the mini-van tuk tuk (truck) with 14 children and sped off to the middle of nowhere.
I spent the next 7 days living in a poverty-stricken rural farm village - in an open (no doors), one-room bamboo hut with a tin roof. The hut consisted of one room - for everyone - all the children and the family. One room for sleeping, eating, playing, talking. This is where the lived - and now they had 17 visitors. 18 people slept in this room - the rest next door. I was given "the bed" which was a hard wood plank that I shared with 4 kids. Yes - I woke up in the middle of the first night laying in a puddle of fresh, warm kid-piss. Nice.
Every day and every night, I played with the kids. I played with them inside, outside, on the road, at the neighbor's farm, down the dirt road, in the peanut fields, on the hammock, and everywhere the land allowed. The closest neighbor was the farm next door - across the peanut fields. It rarely got boring. That might be because I had kids hanging on me at all times. I observed their behavior and was sucked into the "family-life" of these kids. They were one big family. And, I became part of it - quickly. Each one's personality shined bright. Tao was scared of the cows. Vihn was in love with me and wouldn't let me go. Y was the cutest thing on the planet.
Together with the family, we took care of the 14 children. For them to be out of the city and in the countryside - free to roam and explore and celebrate was magnificent. Every night - bed time became a special moment of the day. One-by-one each kid got tired and slowly passed out in our arms, on the patio, in the dirt, on the hammock - anywhere and everywhere. And one-by-one, we picked them up and brought them to their sleep area.
The family was simultaneously celebrating the New Year. And, so there were visitors and special foods eaten all day. THIS WAS THE HARDEST PART OF MY ENTIRE EXPERIENCE: The food.
Some of them truly started to get attached to me - following me everywhere, crying when I played with someone else, fighting to sleep next to me.... It was powerful. I have too much to try to explain and my words can't do it. So, I'll just leave this to rest. Ask me and I'll be more than thrilled to try and share. I'll post more photos so that you can gather an idea of my "orphanage-on-a-poor-farm" experience.....