Team Good Beginnings ‘Trek for a Helping Hand’
With the trekking done and dusted we rested up for an evening before departing on a morning flight to Da Nang where we would complete the second part of this adventure challenge: a project visit at a local orphanage. Arriving at lunchtime, we first drove to have a special lunch at Bread of Life, a small American-style cafe which is run by Kathleen Huff. Kathleen has been in Vietnam for some 14 years helping deaf children get ahead in life by teaching them sign language and giving them jobs running the cafe – both of which are providing them opportunities from what can otherwise be a very isolated, uneducated life here.
After some amazing pizza, we drove with both Tuan and his boss, Holly, to the Children of Vietnam orphanage where our group volunteered for the next two days. On arrival we were greeted by the pet dog, a few sleepy children and their house mothers, but as word spread of our arrival, more children started to appear and soon we were surrounded by the 25 children who live there, aging from 8-18.
Amongst other items, they had asked us to bring beads to make jewellery and the afternoon was spent making bracelets and necklaces, along with drawing and games of badminton and football too. It was wonderful. We left before they became too tired and would spend all day tomorrow with them.
We arrived back at the orphanage early the next morning armed with western food for a cooking class as well teaching some new English words. Our group had also decided to buy some special treats for the older children and the morning first began with a make-up session for the girls while the boys played ball.
With nails drying, we split into two groups. Alison, Jeanette and Chris joined the kids in their classroom to teach some basic English while Karen, Carly and myself started preparing some food in the kitchen with the older children. To learn a trade is very valuable to these girls as it may help them gain jobs later. The orphanage had asked us to make western food and we had decided on a typical Aussie kids party menu consisting of the following:
- Fairy bread, together with a Vegemite tasting session
- Pancakes with caramelised fruit
- Burgers with salad
- Krispy crackles
The older girls were very adept at cooking and as we showed them our methods of cooking, they too showed us how to cook with chopsticks; lots of laughter abound. We took the fairy bread and Vegimite crackers into the classroom and both items were greeted with bemused expressions, but they tried them nonetheless, even sandwiching both together(!). Surprisingly, they loved both.
By the end of the day, we had scored highly with the pancakes, even more highly with the burgers and the Krispy crackles went down a treat too. We’d delivered what we set out to do; teach a little English, a lot of cooking, strung some beads, painted nails, played some sport, sang and entertained and generally enjoyed just hanging out with these beautiful children, as they did us too.
We painted a small memorial of our visit on their kitchen wall, and as we left the children held our hands; hugged and waved us goodbye. Their meagre belongings and surroundings had made us all remember that at the end of the day, we don’t need much in life but what is important is time spent together and lots of love and affection.
This challenge really is complete now and our last night was spent celebrating our achievements, entertaining our amazing guide Tuan, giving each other titles for things unmentionable, and enjoying the sights of the idyllic riverside town of Hoi An. Some beautiful photos have been taken and some even more beautiful memories have been formed. Thank you Vietnam for being such a great host!
From me and our five stars, it’s now over and out.
More from the Good Beginnings Trek for a Helping Hand 2012
- Blog 1: Five Formidable Females Hit Vietnam
- Blog 2: Formidable Five Tackle 22km
- Blog 3: Kookaburras, Kids and Canoes
- Blog 4: And climb we did…
- Blog 5: Picture Perfect Vietnam
- Blog 6: Team Good Beginnings Get Gold!
- Blog 7: Two Days with Children of Vietnam
- More about Good Beginnings Australia
- Children of Vietnam orphanage: www.childrenofvietnam.org