Friday, August 25, 2006

Children teaching children

It has been two weeks...or maybe three since Michael left. He only set sail from San Francisco two days ago so we don't expect him home any time soon. We are working hard to compensate for his absence especially with the kids. There is extra love flying around everywhere here. This week I have been blown away by the care and responsibily of our kids.

Michael has mentioned before our Internal swimming program, teaching Blue Dragon children how to swim. We are now on our second program and currently teaching 16 kids. On Tuesday I took one of my students, Nhan, to the pool along with an extra child, Thuy, as my other student, La, had to stay home and look after his baby nephew. I have been here 5 months and my Vietnamese is pretty basic even though I practise very day with the kids, a language with 6 tones ain't the easiest language to learn. I am sure you can imagine my swimming lessons now!!!

My heart was so warmed when Thuy began to help me teach Nhan how to do freestyle breathing. Thuy showed so much patience and compassion, gently correcting Nhan to improve his stroke. I am so impressed with the children over the last couple of months, a real sense of brotherhood and unconditional love has grown amongst every one.

Here is a little background on 14 year old Thuy to help you paint a picture in your mind. Thuy's father abandoned him and his mother when he was one year old. Thuy quit school many times due to lack of money and used to work around the Old Quarter of Hanoi, his mother selling postcards to tourists and Thuy selling lottery ticket results. Thuy's mother died from a drug overdose over one year ago. Thuy then came to live with his 72 year old Grandmother who sells tea all night at one of the busiest markets in Hanoi. He and his Grandmother used to live in very poor accomodation with only one bag of possessions and a small light.

Blue Dragon met Thuy a month after his mother passed away as he stayed with his Grandmother on the same street as our centre. Thuys grandmother is unable to care for Thuy anymore as the burden of providing for two mouths is too much for this 72 year old woman. Thuy has been living in one of our Residency houses with 5 other boys for three months now and is provided with daily meals. He is now studying grade 2 at school and participates in various extra classes at our centre; drama, drumming, swimming and Music Club. He is a ray of sunshine and always brings laughter with his natural sense of humour and acting abilities.

Another incident this week was in our second Drama class. Two of the older girls who had participated the day before came again...must be because I design SUCH WONDERFUL CLASSES!!! he he he. We encouraged the girls to co- facilitate the class with us, and they did such a wonderful job. It is so powerful to see children lead and help other children. And this genuine care and mentorship seems to be happening everywhere around me at the moment. And so the family grows!

Last Saturday we had a very successful opening ceremony for our "Stay in School" kids School in Bac Ninh Province. A team of staff have been working very hard over the past three weeks preparing school books, bags and stationery, planning logistics of transporting 350 school bags laiden with stationery, counting and re-counting to make sure they had the right number "was that 211 or 215??? Oh count again". The ceremony ran smoothly and all the kids were so well behaved and very happy to receive their schoolbags and books. They began their school year last Monday.

All in all, Blue Dragon life is flowing along with full strength. This Sunday some of the kids from the Product Design team are heading out to the pottery village to learn how to make pottery. We never stop learning!

Have a great weekend