This trip back to Vietnam marks nine years of doing volunteer work in Vietnam. That is nine years and eleven return flights to Vietnam I can’t tell you how quickly that time has gone!
This trip, however, was one of the most exciting because it was the trip over to see the restaurant/accommodation center I have been involved in open for business. When children in centres such as orphanages turn 18 in Vietnam they are generally force to leave with little or no education or vocational skills, often making it difficult for them to find work an quite often pushing them straight back into the cycle of poverty that got them to the orphanage in the first place. This center is planned to be a home for these kids where they can train as cooks or wait staff, go on to further education or vocational training with a roof over their heads all with the goal of providing them with the skills to find long term employment and a chance at life for themselves. Mostly, it is a safe place for these kids who have nowhere else to go. I want them to feel like they can go there now, or if they need it, in 10 years from now. It will always be a safe place for them.
We still have a long way to go but the restaurant is up and running and the first of the kids have already arrived. What we have found, however, is that further to this initial goal of what the center was to be, we have found that it is actually operating a little bit like a community center too!
This trip I was able to use Baby Teresa to touch the lives of many people who are struggling in Vietnam. When I refer to the restaurant as a community center I mean that on numerous occasions during my 6 week stay we had people turn up needing help. From the mother of one of the kids in the orphanage who came when she needed a place to stay for a few nights and a few days paid work, to the grandmother of an orphaned child begging for help to keep him out of an orphanage, to a mother who’s husband took off and left her alone with a baby and no job (who is now working full time at the restaurant). We were able to provide Baby Teresa clothing for her baby and she now lives at the restaurant.
This gave me the idea to leave some of the Baby Teresa outfits at the restaurant so that they can be used when there are women in trouble who need clothing. Since I left there more outfits have been handed out.
The second place that I was able to donate Baby Teresa is “My Fathers House.” This is a home for unwed women that I visited last year. It impressed me so much last year when I visited last time to deliver Baby Teresa suits, that I couldn’t wait to get back. The women there are just so grateful for any help they can get, every single one of them are making plans for their future and are actively involved in studying or vocational training. The home is so lean and the children that are living there are just gorgeous and so well looked after. I arrived armed with clothing from Tasmania as well as gorgeous Baby Teresa suits and the mothers and pregnant girls made sure that everyone got something. There was one very young mother at the center who was due to give birth in a month and she just love the suits. She kept holding them out in front of her and looking with them with a huge smile on her face – beautiful! The center is being run so well. Their biggest need at the moment is a washing machine. They do have one but it is on its last legs and on its last run flooded the kitchen. They are very good at trying to hold onto things – that washing machine had tape all over it! Their website is http://www.givebacktokids.org/
the way they are changing lives in Vietnam is incredible.
Six weeks went so quickly and before long I was leaving the kids, the restaurant and 35 degree weather behind and returning to Tasmania (so cold!), but I’m already [planning the next trip and hopefully another Baby Teresa donation! Thanks so much again Baby Teresa – it was an absolute pleasure to take a donation over for another time. I feel so blessed to be able to distribute these gifts to people on behalf of you.
– Carrie Twine