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Hanoi Q&A April 11, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 10:00 am
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It’s been 10 days since I left Saigon. Hanoi is everything Saigon doesn’t have, I feel like I’m in Paris of Asia. Weather is cooler here and I see it as a bonus at the end of my volunteering term!

As we planned, the girls at the shelter had Internet access last weekend and I received 2 emails from them, saying something in Vietnamese, I couldn’t really understand but it sounded positive 🙂 I couldn’t translate as they used English characters to write in Vietnamese, because Vietnamese characters still  don’t work on the XOs properly. I  sent more pictures to them and asked to write more, and to run software updates on their XOs.

There are a lot of volunteering organizations and NGOs in Hanoi. I visited two of them, met the managers and learned about different programs. Volunteers are always wanted! Habitat for humanity is offering micro-finance programs for families willing to start a business or renovate their houses. Volunteers come and help build houses for the most in need.

I met Phuong from VPV, and he told me about his programs. His focus is international development and volunteering. Local hosts and volunteers work together and learn from each other, make their friendship long-lasting and businesses sustainable. In the case of Giao Xuan, it took two years to develop sustainable eco tourism businesses with good qulity of services and  goods.

I thought of Hung, a business owner of a home stay in Can Tho, Mekong Delta. Hung was a former boat driver, who learned English from tourists. He saved some money and built several bungalows  next to his house. Today he hosts tourists and offers additional services, like private tours, cooking classes, etc. He learned how to be independent and successful.

I remember my questions from and I think I found some answers. Volunteering is very rewarding and I would recommend it to everyone. The XO and Sugar, besides being fun educational tools, help children develop skills, including problem solving skills, that they can use in real life.  Skills plus access to information help people to find ways to improve their lives and help others.

Vung Vieng Village. What is in its future? Will its residents stay poor or learn to be entrepereneurial and start their own businesses and then they will supplement their income from fishing? I hope they will not become heavily dependent on toursits like in Sapa.


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