My time with VPV is over. I received an IVHQ letter asking for my feedback. Oh, well. Where do I start? It’s been interesting… I am glad I tried it and found my limits. I found out that I can live with three roommates, sleep on a bunk bed, tolerate cockroaches, lizards, ants, spiders. I can live without hot water and in a place with dirty floors and therefore have dirty feet… Loud dusty streets, indigestion … It was very difficult.
My main issue was heat, as our house had no AirCon, but fans, which were not always functioning properly. When there was no electricity, fans stopped working and that was what I think hell is. About heat… For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine living in an oven. It is not too hot for you to get cooked to death but enough to get roasted. And what difference does it make if they give you a fan???
I didn’t want to be in any pictures as my face was red, even though I tried not to expose my skin to sunlight. My hair was a mess and I wore no make up. Would you wear a make up if you lived in an oven? The main priority is to survive, by all means. It makes me think of those prawns that were publicly executed in a glass pot for dinner – all they wanted is to survive in boiling water.
What got me going? Fruit shakes, any kind of shade, my students and volunteers I worked with. I met a lot of good-hearted people. Last Sunday night we had a roofdeck party for all local and international volunteers. About 15 people came. I made Russian salad Vinegret, Linh brought Vietnamese food, Minh – fruit and Sandy – a delicious cake.
In my two months here I met some volunteers who were not serious about their responsibilities, it was just a stop on their big itinerary in South East Asia. They would get drunk at night and in the morning they would come late or skip visits to the orphanage or shelter, they would not get properly dressed, not respect the rules of the Peace house, but there were many others who were really great.
Lan and Zerlene brought a lot of presents for children in the orphanage: toys, T-shirts, sweets… Other volunteers brought children to the pool, which was a major delight for them. Eighteen children together with 10 nurses were taken to the beach for the first time in their lives. Some bought CDs for children to listen and dance to.
I made friends and learned why people volunteer. Many said that they don’t want to be selfish but help others. I got some cool ideas about future business opportunities and met possible partners… I got my happiness back because it derived from the smiles of the children I worked with… Thank you, Saigon!