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.
After many long rainy days in Saigon, came a day of brilliant sunshine. The elementary school kids were off this morning, a Saturday, and they, along with the OBV counselors decided to play outside.
Kids have an amazing ability to play for hours with minimal props, any plan or rules, or cookies and candy. All they needed were rubber bands (to make a long elastic for a skipping game), a few chopsticks and ping pong balls, a handkerchief, and a slipper. They played so passionately, that we as the adults looked on, embarrassed that we didn't know how to contribute to their games. After joking around about it, we decided to just take in their spirit, their childlike joy, naivety and innocence, to create a relaxed atmosphere and help them feel that they are loved unconditionally, and to forget their dark and sorrow filled pasts.
an old article...
Although Dad had been through long days of 2011 Mission Trip, he didn’t forget the promise to take us on a trip. So, we were on the way to Dai Nam.
Being with us this time were L. – a volunteer in the 2011 Mission Trip, and K. – another volunteer who has spent her annual vacation to teach OBV’s children how to cut their hair with a desire that “not only to help kids know how to cut their hair but also consider this as a job for their future”.
My dear friends, as I have shared in previous articles about my "night flights", I usually go to Viet Nam and Campuchia for my work with One Body Village-website http://www.onebodyvillage.org/. , and the "night flights" were only my own personal excursions, hoping to help a few people and at the same time create occasions for young people in Viet Nam to experience the happiness of giving.
That is why I could not post the work I did on social media, not like I could tell about my "night flights". Whenever you called me and got a busy signal, that meant I was outside of the area of service of Viet Nam, in another country. I'm sorry but I couldn't tell you where I was. Now that it is over, I can finally tell you the story.
Please enjoy the first story as told by my cousin, whom I dragged along to Campuchia with me.
I totally did not plan on going to Campuchia. However, my post-Tết celebration plans fell apart, plus an incident in my life upset me quite a bit. So, I accepted my cousin Thông's invitation to accompany him to Campuchia, though I had turned him down before, not having any interest in his "Cambodian trips." Surprisingly, he did not give up and kept inviting, and since I was feeling down, I decided to go with him. Very simple, if he invited me for a mission trip, I would have plenty of work to occupy me so I can forget things I was trying to forget. It would be wonderful if we also went to see Angkor Wat, but it would be alright too if we did not, he did not invite me to be a tourist. It was all my guessing anyway, he never told me what the trip was about when he invited me to go to Cambodia with him.
1 pm, the First Day of Tết, my parents and I arrived back in Saigon after celebrating with our extended family since the 28th of last month. The streets of Saigon were empty. My parents and uncles went to visit our relatives to offer their well wishes for the New Year. I excused myself and went back to my hotel to wash my clothes and get ready for my New Year night excursion, which I will add to my Cambodian trip on the 2nd day of Tết.
After finishing the preparation, I turned on my computer to answer email. I noticed my reporter friend was still online, which meant she was on call, so I sent her a greeting. It turned out she was almost done with her call, she invited me to go with her to visit her adopted children in area 4. An hour later, the two of us were making our way through the winding alleys of the slum area. When we stopped in front of the house, people were staring at us with curiosity. Vũ whispered, " I'm already a familiar sight, it's you they are looking at." I only laughed without saying anything. Vũ already told me the story of the three sisters that we were visiting while we were on our way. This is the story by my friend Pham Vũ, in her own words:
An old story...
After"exploding" in the first story, I am less upset. So I am now calm enough to sit down and write about the second story: the story of people who are really crazy.
Some people said about us: " Those nuts! Tết is a time to spend with family and friends, not a time to wander on the streets like that!" I can only laugh it off when I hear them, how can I explain to them? However, once in a while I would snapped when I feel criticized too much: " If priests don't do that work, can parishioners do it? Do you want to? If you do, then I will stop." I know I should not talk like that but once in a while, I got mad. Talk about crazy!
An old article...
I am back in the USA after a month of wandering in VN and Campuchia, there is still so much to sort out inside. First of all, I still owe you a report on my “true feelings”, which I promised I would write. One friend even wrote: “ We are still waiting for your stories”, even though they already read reports and saw pictures posted on the website , from others in the group. They said those reports did not have “my marks” and demanded the stories I still owe them.
An old article...
According to the assignment of the One Body Village (OBV) Organization which has established by Father Martino Thông in the USA, 3 sisters of us who were OBV representatives in Vietnam had departed to Xuân Hưng – Đồng Nai province to deliver a sum of money from benefactors' supportive fund to a devoted class of Miss Huong.
In brief introduction, the class was built by Miss Huong and her husband on their home land. They created table and chairs for the class by connected pieces of wood and pieced some used tole and timber together to erect the wall. In last May, Father Thông led a group of young OBV members from US to the class helping complete the boundary fence for the class.
Many native Vietnameses have returned from Cambodia to this region for re-settlement. The class has been built up to help children of those Vietnamese families. Many parents have had difficulties either in cost of living or taken not enough cares of them. If not being well cared and educated the children would face high risk of being traded as prostitutes in Cambodia. Therefore, the main objective of OBV is to look after the children contributing into prevention of child sex slavery....
I was so excited to see the class wall because I missed a chance that was called by Father Thông on email for help build the wall.
The wall of "history"
an old article...
We all know that "parents place their children" but as they didn't want their children to move here with heavy hearts when knowing that they didn't want to leave their lovable place with lots of memories.
Those few days, when I took the children to District 9, I also wanted to help them to have psychological preparation in order to adapt to new place happily and comfortably. That afternoon, taking them around the village, when we just left our houses, we saw a target "Ecotourism area"; we asked around and got to know that it was 2 km away. Oh, so let's walk, just come and see.
an old article...
Rolling on bed, finally I woke up at 9AM – lazy? Yeah, how lazy I was. As I was unemloyed...9AM was still early to me, and I had an appointment at 9AM
As I promised, I quickly started off with doing 3 loaves of flan for children, and I rode my motobike and headed to Cu Chi. Frankly speaking, this was the second time I visited land that my my dad bought long time ago. At the first time, as I went with my parents, I enjoyed cool astmosphere of the AC in the car, and of course my brother was driver, so I didn't care about the route and how to get there, just slept all along the road. And consequence was I had no idea about the route.
an old article..
OBV celebrated the Memorial Day of Hung Vuong
It's time for the finals. The children must be nervous and tired for studying so hard for their final exams. It was a holiday. Since the morning, the management had been planning an unprepared short picnic for the children to relax a little bit. A few ideas were mentioned: fishing, snail hunting, playing in the park, etc. However, none of these were chosen by the majority due to a few constraints. Finally, everybody supported Mother N.'s idea of camping right in the OBV garden. All the tasks assigned must be accomplished quickly, on time within scouting discipline.
an old article...
By the Vietnamese New Year, one of the children in our large family named TV often seemed bored when she had to go to school and when she played with other girls. However, she talked a lot and was happy when she had free time and when she was in the family meals.
She said, "I want to go home and take care of my baby sister (or brother) but my parents argue all the time about me." I talked to her, comforted her and understood why she was so sad. My solution was creating content for her in this period. I did not expect her to study well, nor work on her duties even though they were just sweeping the house, washing dishes or preparing the dinner table. The only thing important was that she could smile and get along with others. Then it became true, I did not see her bored any longer. She was more joyful, laughed more, talked more, and wanted to study with T and Y. She studied as hard as other older girls, and she said, "I want to be a teacher when I grow up."
Feb 17, 2013
Translated by Phuong Pham. The original version in Vietnamese entitled "Cho Em Tiếng Cười"
She came from the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, her life has hung around the little boats and her floating hovel of her family, the furthest distance she has traveled was several miles to the land area of the Church onshore where her house temporarily located since the authority forced them to land on the shore as part of a five-year plan to beautify the riverfront. But now, she is miles far away from home, no family, no friends.
So it has been over a month to live in OBV house, this was not too much but long enough for her to get to know about the family and the live here. I recall meeting her in the late afternoon during my survey trip in the Kompong Chhnang Lake area, she rarely spoke a word, but she was agile to steer the boat with her brother and then she sat down at the top of the boat staring at the distant horizon as an adult was meditating on the life.