Some volunteers visited OBV house a few days ago. The house is currently under remodeling, and was in complete disarray -- construction equipment and tools, bricks, cement and their mixers, sand....everything was everywhere. This month, my schedule was also thrown out the window, all my time and energy was put towards the completion of these works.
an old article...
Recently, a social psychologist told me: “In all kinds of organization, warm shelter is the most serious one”. When I asked why he said that, he told me some difficulties we might have in managing warm shelters.
Some kids got out of warm shelter and turned to crime. Some kids did not try to be nicer, just like before getting into our house. Although he told me that, I still remained calm. It wasn’t because I was inactive but because I’ve got a belief. I believe that there are lots of helpful people surrounding us. Especially, I believe that God will be always with us. In conclusion, I know that our House – House of God – is different from other Houses – Houses of people.
It was a day of horrific storms, that we made our way to the ends of the world to their house. Two sisters, both victims of sexual abuse. Immediately, we worked to get their paperwork in order, so that we could bring them home. That was nearly 6 years ago.
It was not my first visit to OBV, but tonight was a special and remarkable one for me.
After a storm passed through Saigon, dumping water across the whole town and turning the streets into what looked like branches of a river, and more than 3 hours on a bus (a trip that would've taken 1 hour and 45 minutes normally), I arrived at the gates of OBV's house. Everybody could see how wet and exhausted I was from the journey.
The children had already come back from school; some were preparing dinner, while others were taking care of their personal hygiene. All of them were chirping to welcome me. Some ran off to get me some warm water, and a towel. Others ran in the other direction to prepare a room for me, while others told me to "quickly take a warm bath before I got sick". How absolutely sweet these children could be, and suddenly, all my tiredness, my worries and stress were left behind at the front gate.
OBV welcomes a child with open arms and with little attention to their religious background. The the founder and the staff are predominantly catholic, only a third of the children who walk through our doors are born Catholic.
For community integration, the children participate in activities organized by the local parish, however, are given the choice to study and convert to Catholicism. In fact, 6 children made the choice to receive their First Communion two years ago, and 2 of them continued on to receive their Confirmation today.
My Dear Children,
During Holy Thursday mass this evening, my eyes were stung. Every single word of the development of Love had soaked deeply in my heart.The Love God granted to us, and our love for each other.
How many years had we been through this? We celebrated the simple ceremony of washing feet every Holy Thursday, a reminder for us to live with humility, to serve, and to love.
It was a big surprise not only for the children, but also for the adults who attended his seminars.
It was the first class of 'life skills' to be presented by Professor Toan, with the very sensitive topic of sex. People assumed the children would be too embarrassed or hesitant to participate. But, his confidence and teaching methodology encouraged them to open up, to speak bravely and ask as many questions as possible.
Besides the children living with us in the OBV house, OBV supports other children, who for special reasons could not live with us, and instead now either remain with their parents, or at centres with specialized cared. However, OBV still remains in contact with them by phone, and endeavor to visit them a few times a year.
This summer, beyond the usual activities and picnics, the children had other plans at home.
Some on them, in highschool, started studying their new subjects, while the rest of them reviewed what they had learnt the previous year. OBV'S House Mother created a schedule for them to include learning cross stitch, musical instruments, painting and other handicrafts. They had opportunities to bake a variety of cakes as well as create their own new dishes. All this happened while the skies were dark with rain clouds, and Saigon went under water a few times from the storms.
The first Friday of every month sees the girls of OBV VN settling in for a session with our team of social workers, to learn 'life skills' that may further the quality of their every day lives. The topic for the session in October was "Helpful hints to using Facebook and the Internet", a topic that was eagerly welcomed by all the girls as their access to the internet is quite limited in comparison to others. The girls participated in all the conversation topics with enthusiasm, followed by a Question and Answer segment where they bombarded Duy with question after question.