On Wednesday we found out that five volunteers moved out due to heat (and no AC), mosquitoes and loud fans. They rented hotel rooms for $10 per night. The Peace Houses only have fans, which help to keep rooms cooler and work as protection from mosquitoes at night (mozzies don’t like the wind). We already paid for the accommodation so it is a waste of money and breaking the rules. We came here to experience the life of the locals, not the foreigners who can afford AC. Even though March-April are the hottest months of the year here in Saigon.
On Thursday it got too hot, and in the middle of the night electricity went out, so the fans stopped working and I felt like a pancake being baked. The whole house couldn’t sleep until the electricity went back on around 4AM. That was a true test: “Who is hard-core now?” No wonder 5 volunteers moved out, I don’t blame them… They also complained about the tiring commute to the orphanage and back… Welcome to the Club!
I’m really glad I stay in the dorm with other volunteers, not a hotel or a home-stay. We help each other by sharing our knowledge, resources, and have better time together. Last weekend Carrie and I went to the Cu Chi tunnels, where the tour guide told us his side of the story about the civil war. He was very pro-American. Then Carrie, Tong and I compared notes about living in socialist societies at some point of time in our lives. We exchanged our experiences from Russia, East Germany and Vietnam. It was an eye-opening exercise.
Mathieu works in music making business, and he promised to help with music activities on the XOs. Music is his life: work and as a hobby. We brainstormed and realized that we need to have wireless Internet in the shelter to facilitate learning and promote using of the Internet as a free source of information. We need it to download activities, use Wikipedia and email.
Some people combine traveling around Asia and volunteering. Carrie worked with street children in Deli, India, for two years in a row, and she says “they stole her heart away”. She is going to visit them again after she finishes her work here in Vietnam.
Why do people come to volunteer here? Some want to do it because their friends did it and liked it. Others – to experience Asia and do something good along the way. Some choose it as a career change, tired of doing what they were doing back home. Others come because they like to work with children, and want to share their love with disabled children or those who are in need or without parents. Others come because they went through a hard time back at home (loss of a loved one or a break up) and they want to feel needed, appreciated by someone. And indeed, children do appreciate you and give their love back to you. It is so easy to be kind and generous here. Many feel a deep urge to help someone by being more giving as it brings you more satisfaction than just traveling. The reasons people come here are different, but they are doing the same thing – volunteering, because “happiness is real when shared”(from “Into the wild”).