Sunday, May 28, 2006

Around the next corner

One of the great things about living in Vietnam is never knowing what awaits you down the road.

Sometimes I get emails from people who want to visit us in 6 or 12 months time, and they ask what we'll be doing when they come. Frankly, I have no idea.

And so this week comes to a close, differently to every other week I have lived here. The one constant is the usual mix of highs and lows.

Hung, our young guy in hospital with TB meningitis, seems to be OK. (Anybody who knows about TB or meningitis will understand what a subjective term "OK" is. He's alive, and that in itself borders on miraculous).

The United Nations International School (UNIS) held a Bake Sale for us on Friday, raising over $1300! That was a huge effort. And all down to the hard work that the students put in. They deserve a BIG thanks for that: the funds will help us pay for Hung's treatment.

Also on Friday morning was the end-of-year Stay In School ceremony, where we got all of the 230 or so sponsored children in Bac Ninh province together to hand them certificates for completing their grade. It's just one of the small ways that we try to encourage children and families to stick with education. Vietnamese people generally do value school, but it occurred to me during the meeting that every single one of the 230 children in that room would probably be on the streets of Hanoi, or in garment factories in southern Vietnam, if not for our program. I have to confess that I am damn proud of keeping them in school. (And as soon as I work out how, I'll post some photos of Friday's ceremony).

Our kids had another trip to UNIS on Saturday, with a soccer match arranged by some Dutch friends. Our kids played last Saturday and didn't fare too well, but both teams won their games today. Well done, guys! The Blue Dragon soccer team is made up of street kids, and teens who used to work on the streets, so it really is a great thing for them to win a game of sport every now and then.

With school holidays coming up, some of the young people we have helped over the past few years to return to their countryside are coming back in to Hanoi to visit. It's simply amazing to see how they've grown and matured; another reminder of how worthwhile our work is.

There was one sad farewell, too: Dung, a young guy we met as a shoeshine boy and who went on to enrol in the KOTO training course, has headed south to Saigon to work in a pub that's opening soon. Dung has had a tough life, and was lucky to get a placement in KOTO. This next stage of his life takes him far from his mother and brother, and all his friends in Hanoi; but he still has good support and I'll be seeing him soon myself. (I'm hoping to go to Saigon next weekend to check up on some of the street kids we are working with down there).

So, what does the coming week hold? I can only guess. But I am sure it will be something great.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hey there. I actually wanted to comment on the more recent post to say congratulations and keep up the good work! It is indeed difficult to be outside of the system, especially in a country where the system means so much.