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IVHQ Video Tour: Vietnam

Before flying back to join us in the office in New Zealand, IVHQ Asia Coordinator, Margarete, joins our camerman George for the IVHQ Video Tour stop-off in Vietnam! Let's hear from Margarete as she catches up with our volunteers in Vietnam...

Wednesday 6 March

First on our agenda today is a visit to Phuc Tue Caring Center, where three volunteers are working with children suffering from various disabilities between the ages of 6 and 16. The majority of children here are affected by mental disabilities, predominantly autism and Down’s syndrome. Volunteers work alongside local carers to provide the children with care and attention, with volunteer work including playing games, assisting in rehabilitation and basic teaching. The children seem unaware of the language barrier and do not hesitate to befriend the volunteers. When it’s time for the children to eat and take a nap, we go no our way to a local restaurant for lunch. 

Visiting IVHQ volunteers in a Special Needs placement in Vietnam

After lunch, we stroll alongside West Lake and visit the famous Tran Quac pagoda. With the smell of incense and its golden Buddha statues, this is a welcome escape from the madness of Hanoi traffic. We stop at a small street cart where a local woman makes small 'crepes' filled with freshly grated coconut, sugarcane shavings and black sesame seeds - a concoction that I will definitely try to recreate back home!

IVHQ volunteers learn how to make Vietnamese Crepes

In the afternoon, we visit the second placement of Phuc Tue centre which is further afield and is surrounded by an abundant vegetable garden. This placement houses the disabled children and teaches them basic life skills such as handicrafts (to make money), personal hygiene and assisting in the home. 

Later, we head back to the volunteer house for a buffet style dinner, comprising of at least six different dishes, ranging from mushroom and tofu fritters to pork stir fry and braised cabbage.

Thursday 7 March

After a western style breakfast of eggs on toast, spreads and fruit in the volunteer house, we are on our way to visit two volunteers in action at Peace Village. This is a center for disabled children, many of whom live on site. Volunteers provide the children with much needed attention and positive reinforcement, their work includes playing with the children, doing puzzles, drawing pictures and teaching them basic motor skills. After a quick visit, we go on to Morning Start Center, this center includes classrooms of more difficult children, which include 5 to 7 children per class. These children are severely mentally and physically disabled and volunteer work includes feeding the children, singing songs and calming them with massage and physical rehabilitation. The small class size provides a great environment for volunteers to get to know the children better and learn their personalities and characteristics. 

Visiting IVHQ volunteers on the Childcare project in Vietnam

Lunch is served at a nearby café frequented by locals who work in the area, the menu consists of two choices, goose or fish noodle soup with bamboo shoots and coriander – yum! 

In the afternoon, we visit Nghia Tan primary school, where volunteers teach English to children between the ages of 6 an 11 in classes of 40 to 50 children. Volunteers work alongside a local teacher and closely follow the curriculum and text book chapters. The children are very excited at the sight of a native English speaker and greet us with a well-rehearsed chorus of “good afternoon Teacher, how are you today?”

Visiting IVHQ volunteers on the Teaching placement in Vietnam

We stroll back to the volunteer house, and I sneak off to the very popular local market to see what all the fuss is about. It is immensely busy with scooters and street carts painfully making their way through a solid flow of shoppers. Being the only foreigner in sight, I spend the majority of my time being questioned by shop keepers and told to look at everything on offer. After a speedy exit, we jump into a taxi and go to the rooftop bar, Avalon Café, to watch the city come alive as the sun goes down. To top off an amazing day, we went to Bun Bo Nam Bo for dinner, a local hole in the wall that perfected  Ban Bo noodle soup (with beef, cabbage, lettuce, spiced peanuts and fried onions) so well that this was literally the only thing on the menu!

The busy streets of Hanoi

Friday 8 March

Ho Chi Minh City... here I come! 

To see more photos from Vietnam, check out our IVHQ Video Tour: Vietnam album on Facebook and keep an eye out for our video release in the coming weeks!


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