Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 6 Sunday November 2, 2008

Sunday was a typical quiet day at the Hoa Phuong Orphanage. The children are assigned to specific household chores. The kids swept the surrounding grounds; walkways were cleared of leaves, all done just before a light rain started. Afterwards, all of the orphans gathered in one of the seven homes, sharing candy sent from Rotarians (my Rotary club in Seattle), singing songs, telling stories, and just being kids. This was the first fall trip in eight years that I haven’t brought along a group of American friends. Lots of the conversations were about many of you whom they met in the past. I passed out some of the gifts you sent to the kids you sponsor in the Teach Me To Fish (TM2F) program. The rest of the kids wondered when they would have a sponsor and would get a letter or gift from someone in America. Interested in sponsoring one of the orphans? Learn more about our TM2F program.
When it was time for the kids to prepare dinner with the house mothers, I left with the 13 kids from the TM2F program. Our group dinner was at a posh shopping and entertainment plaza where one of the kids works. The hot-pot dinner was a special treat that only happens when Uncle Son visits. I sat back at the dinner table, watched and listened to the kids-- feeling proud of what they had accomplished on their own-- with just a little help from us. We all stopped at the bookstore on our way out, and a book was purchased for each of them. Most selected English books, some selected computer learning books, and one bought a ‘How To Care for Your Newborn’ book. ‘Roi’ is expecting to have her first baby in a month. Working full-time at the shopping center, married and expecting, Roi is another TM2F kid who successfully broke the cycle of ‘orphan’ and ‘poverty’.
Time to bid goodbye to the kids….until March we’ll just visit through the internet. On my way back to the hotel, I thought of how much has changed since I first met these kids. Back then, they were young and innocent, lacked self-confidence and goals for the future. At some point, even I underestimated them. Now, they go to the internet cafĂ© and reach me via email instead of waiting until the next visit. At the age of eighteen (when they had to leave the orphanage) they marched out of the orphanage gate into the outside the world and they all ended up better than the majority of the population of this developing country. Through the ripple effect, they have made believers out of the younger kids still in the orphanage. One thing I do know, I have not once stop believing in these kids.

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