Fortunately, I have had the pleasure of donating Baby Teresa clothing in the past in Vietnam and on a recent trip back to Vietnam I asked around to find other places that may benefit from Baby Teresa clothing donations. Of course, I still took some to the Tam Ky Baby Orphanage – they love receiving these new clothes for the babies, and this trip was no exception – especially as there are almost 20 under the age of 12 months at the moment, and only two to three carers allocated to look after them. I spent hours in there just trying to give a helping hand – feeding, bathing and changing nappies, but mostly just giving them as much touch and cuddles as I could possibly give in the weeks that I was there. The babies here live on very watered down formula, which is bought locally, and I was very fortunate to be able to deliver some formula carted all the way from Australia which was very kindly donated by Baby Teresa. This is a real need on this particular centre as there are just so many babies and very limited funds for formula for them. The look of relief on the carers faces when it arrived was priceless and it was gone within a week!
A good friend of mine, who has set up a foster home for older children pointed me in the direction of The Fathers House. There is a great video on the Giving It Back To Kids website (the organisation that set this home up) http://www.givingitbacktokids.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=288&Itemid=114. This organisation is doing some amazing things through central Vietnam and this project is no exception.
As stated on their website this home is for girls that are pregnant and have nowhere to go. Mother’s are encouraged to move into The Father’s House as soon as possible. In the home the scared, expectant, mother will be taken care of nutritionally, medically and in an environment to nurture her emotionally. The mothers must agree to stay at least 6 months after the birth of their baby. They are expected to follow all of the house rules, be active in the house, and learn to take care of their newborns. If the mother decides to stay beyond 6 months she must be actively pursuing either an education, or a higher level of vocational training. In a word, something that will allow her to raise her child with some financial dignity.
My visit to the home was unexpected – we just rocked up with arms full of Baby Teresa suits and a small amount of fundraised funds, and we were greeted with the most amazing smiles from the mothers (or some future mothers) and children. It was such a happy, positive place to visit. Interestingly enough, I asked the girls what sort of things they needed funds for and they were so shy and really hesitant to ask for anything (to be honest, something I’m not used to in Vietnam!!). I eventually got that they would like some walkers for the toddlers, which fortunately I had the funds for then and there so was able to purchase for them. My visit was brief but it seems the biggest need there is for funding to help these women to build a career. For example, a very quiet, very young new mother has just been doing her training as a beautician – all of the costs for this training are covered by the home, but she doesn’t have the money for a make up kit (all her brushes, make up etc) when she finishes the course. $50 would set her up with a very basic kit, $150 would set her up with the whole thing and allow her to get started earning an income.
Talking to the girls further I realized that helping here was a great way to get involved in a bit of a different area in Vietnam. The 8 years I have been going back and forward I have always been working directly with children in institutions – street kids shelters, orphanages etc – but this is a great way to help keep children OUT of these institutions – by helping vulnerable women stand on their own two feet so they have the choice to keep their children.
Thanks so much Baby Teresa for the donation and therefore the opportunity to visit somewhere a bit out of my comfort zone. I cant wait to get together some funds before my return next year to see if I can help these brave young women realise all that they can be… and hopefully turn up with some more Baby Teresa suits – as you can see from the photos they were such a big hit!!