Part 3: Visit to Huong La Orphanage in Bac Ninh Province Vietnam (10 December 2017)

Pres and I flew to Hanoi Saturday the 9th.   The staff of Tomodachi House, the hostel we stayed in was helpful as always and led us to shops in Cha Ca where we could source for crayons, pens, and colouring books as well as soaps, toothbrushes, boxes of toothpaste, face towels, and baby powder for our goodie bags!

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Sister Hai was very excited knowing we brought 50 talc powder bottles for all the residents, including Sister Hai herself, something they’d likely not spend their money on considering the scant resources they have.

Huong was very nice to have bought warm blankets for the residents.  Thank you very much, Huong!  Her daughter Oc was our very reliable translator as her English is really strong for a young girl her age!

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With Huong, Oc and Voi 🙂

Our friends Tri and Trung and Pres and I have one thing in common – Baker & McKenzie.  Pres and I were from the Manila office while Tri and Trung are with Baker & McKenzie Hanoi.  WE met over a decade ago and despite the distance, our friendship blossomed and here we are now, doing charity work together!

True friends do not happen everyday.  They are in fact very rare this day and age.  Baker & McKenzie brought us all together!

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Before we left, Sister Hai and the rest of the sisters prepared us some pho ga (chicken noodle soup); thank you all very much for the thoughtfulness!

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Our group photo with the volunteers and Sister Hai and the kids!  We will see you all again really soon!

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Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” — Wess Stafford

Part 1: Visit to Huong La Orphanage in Bac Ninh Province Vietnam (10 December 2017)

Located in Bac Ninh Province in Vietnam some 50 minutes away from Hanoi, Huong La Orphanage is home to children and adults with mental and physical disabilities.  A group of Catholic sisters, headed by Sister Hai runs this orphanage and with a current headcount of 50 residents, the sisters receive no regular funding from the government and rely mainly on donations by volunteers who visit the orphanage.

We were greeted by the happy smiles of these lovely kids!25298970_1892558574106620_7800658512247405337_n

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Sister Hai with a few kids at the orphanage.  The older girls, the “big sisters” help out in taking care of the younger kids at the home.

 

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This young lady was dancing non-stop the entire time we were there!

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This boy is 14 and is unable to move his legs.  Both his parents are disabled too so a relative brought him to this home when he was still an infant.

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This young boy is unable to walk and is almost always strapped to his bed.  During our visit, Sister Hai sat him on some special chair and he was very happy and excited to see other kids playing in the garden!

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Such a cute little boy, enjoying his warm blanket!

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This boy is very cheeky!

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There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

Visit to SOS Children’s Village in Hanoi, Vietnam (October 2015)

After staying for a week in Ho Chi Minh to spend time with the kids at Lang Hoa Binh, Pres and I flew to Hanoi to see our dear dear friend Trung (God bless him!) and to meet his Mom and also to visit the SOS Children’s Village in Cau Giay, Hanoi.

For close to 30 years, SOS Children’s Village has been providing children at risk with a loving home and a good chance to attend school.  From childhood up until adulthood, it extends support to these children that they turn out to be independent and responsible, enabling them to be contributing members of the society.

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This was what welcomed us when we entered the gates of SOS Children’s Village Vietnam.

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We brought this huge 50×70 cake for everybody!  The Village houses about 150 children and we prepared school kits for them so they could top up their supplies for school.  In the morning of our visit, the coordinator informed us that the kids had to be in some school event but one group of kids was willing to see us before they head to school!

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The kids could hardly believe their eyes – their first time to see such a huge cake!  We made sure that the cake design was translated in Vietnamese so the kids could read what’s written  on the cake!

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Kids quietly queued up for their turn to get a slice!  WE ALL LOVE CAKE!!!

This is one smart young lady (the one in tangerine top) – she actually noticed that the design on the cake and what both Pres and I had on the shirts we were wearing were similar!  If only we could speak Vietnamese!  That’s our next project 🙂

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This boy was asking Pres if he likes football – Pres noticed the boy was in an AON jersey!

While the kids were enjoying their cake slice, Pres and I started giving out some of the school supplies we prepared for them.

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The boys are crazy about Pres haha!  They’d ask Pres something in Vietnamese, Pres would try and respond in English, and they’d all just laugh!

This tiny lady in front of me kept asking for her mẹ.

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The kids gifted us with these super cute 3D origami swans they made for me and Pres!  Thank you very much!  We will see you again soon!

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Kids’ smiles are truly priceless!

Within the SOS Children’s Village, there are quaint homes (with about 10 kids) and each would have one lady volunteer who stays with the kids so they could have someone they could call their mẹ.

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This is Hoa Lay On Gladiolus, one of the homes where the kids stay in, with a volunteer caretaker they call their Mommy!  With donations from benefactors, the kids are able to attend school and to have a home, despite their being abandoned by their families.

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We can never thank you enough, Trung for all your help and support and for making our first time in Vietnam truly meaningful – such a beautiful country and the people are very warm and kind-hearted.  Friends make life beautiful!

 

 

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain.  It’s not something you learn in school.
But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything
.”
― Muhammad Ali