On Monday we finally gathered for orientation in Peace House One. There were about 17 fresh volunteers, ready to start. In the morning we were given all kinds of info about VPV, where to shop, house rules, specifics of work places and much more: orientation presentation. We found out that there are more than 150 local Vietnamese volunteers, who are members of VPV club. They assist international volunteers in teaching English, give city tours and raise money for activities for children. Volunteers, mostly students from local Universities, gave us Vietnamese language lesson in the afternoon.
Traffic accident is the highest cause of death in Vietnam. Side walks are actually not for pedestrians but for parking bikes, so please try to make your way around them. Crossing the road, main rules for survival among bikes and other vehicles are: look in every direction, do not stop ‘suddenly’, never run, cross slowly but confidently.
From our booklet: “The traffic in HCMC at first glance appears to have no rules, but it really is organized chaos. The biggest vehicle has the right of way, you must move out of its path. Flashing lights and continuous use of horn are mostly used instead of the brake. A red traffic light also means green for some drivers, but if police are present, red is red. If you wait to walk across the street you will be there forever, just walk slowly and be aware, motobikes will drive around you easily but pay attention to cars, trucks and especially city buses. City buses are very unforgiving. Try to cross on crosswalks.”
Attitudes toward volunteers in Vietnam.
“The idea of volunteering one’s time or energy toward a cause is still a new one for many in the adult generations in Vietnam, although many in the upcoming generation are working hard toward changing this. Feeling of suspicion from local government and police authorities often surrounds the idea of a foreigner engaging in anything other than tourist or business activities. The attitude often persists that “if you want to help, just give us money”. We believe that it is responsibility of every volunteer to help in the continuous and ongoing process to change this attitude, and to prove the volunteer can be a force of change and directly assist those in need”.