Sunday, December 11, 2005

The winter woolies

One thing I was not expecting when I moved to Vietnam - winter.

Isn't Vietnam supposed to have a tropical climate? Well, Ho Chi Minh City does. But Hanoi has a fair-dinkum, brass-monkey-beware, genuine winter (apologies for the Australianisms there. But it's really, really cold). The temperature doesn't get too low - usually it's around 10-12 degrees... But it stays humid, and so everything is damp and icy cold. You have to be here to believe it.

For street kids, the winter is a particularly bad time. Even in the day, nobody should be out in this weather, but children who have no family to support them have no choice. They have to go out every morning to collect scrap paper, or shine shoes, regardless of the season.

So Blue Dragon is turning its attention for a while to some basic needs. We prefer not to devote our resources to handouts, but when it comes to the Hanoi winter, the kids need help to stay warm and healthy.

Our social workers have been taking kids down to the local market to buy jackets and jeans; Julian, who is running a music club, gave all the kids winter beanies and gloves. Jennifer, another volunteer, took three boys out during the week to get them jackets and shoes. We always let the kids choose their own clothes - just one little part of our philosophy that happens to be very important.

And to top it all off, the International Women's Club has helped us buy 100 blankets! On Thursday and Friday, the social workers played Santa Claus (and LOVED it), as all the families and carers of our kids came around to collect their early Christmas present.

Such a simple thing, giving out blankets... but there weren't many dry eyes by the end of the day. For most of the kids and families, this was the first time they had ever owned such a warm, beautiful blanket. Wow, were they appreciative!

It's great to know that at least some families will be so much warmer this Christmas.

No comments: