About Vietnam

The Global Volunteer Network Vietnam volunteer program gives volunteers the chance to become involved in children's aid and education projects in Vietnam. This program has something to suit all skills and experience levels.

You have the opportunity to work in the Children's Program with orphans, street children and children with disabilities or in the Teaching Program with high schools, colleges and universities.

While sharing your knowledge and compassion you will gain an in-depth experience of the country and its culture that will stay with you the rest of your life.

For more information, please visit the Vietnam program page on the Global Volunteer Network website.

Recent Vietnam Journals:

My First Week

 Posted by Christine Gordon at 11:39 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on My First Week
Nov 032016
 

Greetings from Ba Vi

I can not believe that I have just finished my first week at the centre! Time really does fly when you are having fun.

If you have ever had thoughts about volunteering……do it!! It is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Yes there have been a few times this week that have been shall we say ‘trying’ but when the kids look at you and give you the biggest smile your heart just melts.

I have been assigned to Room 5 at the centre which has 22 children with ages varying from 7 to 21 and each of them has either a mental or physical disability and of varying degrees. But looking past all that they each have their own beautiful personalities.

I’ve spent this first week getting to know my kids and their little quirks. Some of the kids love being outside playing with the ball and this really helps with their coordination and the smiles on their faces when they are playing is wonderful. Some love to just take walks in the sunshine and having a little explore on the way or its being inside playing on the mat with the toys. In amongst all of that there is always time for a cuddle.

Our work day starts at 8.30am and finishes around 3.30pm though we are able to go to other areas and help out until 5pm if we wish. The nursery unit is one place I like to visit once my Room 5 is settled for the day.

Then there is the bike ride home (about 5kms) which is always entertaining. The locals are so welcoming. I had a local man stop me yesterday on the way home – he wanted to say hello and shake my hand….how gorgeous. There is always fruit of some sort being sold at the roadside too, fresh pineapple which is amazing – the lady will peel and cut it up for you while you wait. There is sugar cane juice made right in front of you – cant get any fresher than that!

So….that’s about it for this week. It has been an amazing, enriching and wonderful week and I look forward to next week.

Amazing weekend…..

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 11:03 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Amazing weekend…..
May 222016
 

Well back from another weekend away and on my last week at the centre.

I went for an overnight cruise on a junk around Ha Long Bay. What an amazing place. The scenery is spectacular and there were only 16 people on board, so made for a nice small group that got on well mostly. There is always one person whom complains about everything and yep we had one. So everyone just kept away from her. I had a room with a balcony so spent time out there watching the sun set and the world go by. We visited a floating village and pearl farm. The poor woman whom had to row us around. Six hefty Europeans  ( I was the lightest) in a boat being rowed for 60 minutes around the village. Our boat went first and came back last. We were told to tip her 10,000dong each. We all tipped her double. Apparantly, 5 years ago there were 500 families living in the village now there is only 50 families. The area is UNESCO  protected and so the people have been rehomed on the mainland. It is expected that the rest will be gone within the next couple of years. Unfortunately, like all people that are rehomed, they are not doing well on the mainland as their livelihood was the water and fishing. The bay is overfished. Then everyone was taken swimming before back for cocktails watching the sun set. Dinner was a seafood banquet where they created flowers out of vegetables. We were all up at 5.15am to watch the sun rise and then to do some tai chi before breakfast. Then off to explore a cave, more swimming a cooking class on how to make spring rolls and lunch. Then a slow trip back to shore.

Ha Long Bay consists of around 200 islands and only a small portion of them are protected. There are 550 tourist boats going out every day and 220 that stay out overnight. And of that 220 there are only 20 that go to where we went, which meant it was quiet. it is definitely worth the trip and a must see on your list. The photos don’t do justice to the views. It was the most relaxing and serene weekend I have had for a long time. 

On the way we stopped at a disabled persons production workshop and selling house. This is an orphanage that has done well in obtaining funding to set up a series of workshops where people make embroidered pictures, create sculptures, make clothes, jewellery and heaps of other stuff. They have a wall of overseas buyers of their sculptures and would you believe there was one from Invercargill New Zealand.

On the way home we had a flat tire. We pulled over next to a fruit seller outside her house. She invited us all in, fed us pineapple and banana and showed us all around her place. She had a cow and calf, chooks, a dog and numerous fruit trees. After an hour of waiting for the driver to pushbike back to town and get a repair truck and getting tyre changed we were on our way. Of course we paid the Lady well for her hospitality.

Well this is my  last week at the centre. today the staff asked when I was leaving and they wanted to swap Facebook details. Then one asked me if she could have my pants and top and another the bracelet I was wearing. I said yes to both, handed over the bracelet, but they would have to wait till Friday for the clothes. Apparantly, this Is common practice when someone is leaving. There are a couple of things clothes wise that I will be leaving behind and the bracelet was made at the centre and i plan to buy a heap anyway.

I have had a sore throat for the past week and over the weekend it developed into infected sinuses so am now on antibiotics for that. Otherwise I have been fine. One of the other volunteers also has the throat infection and we are pretty sure we have got it from the kids as there is always a few with coughs, running noses and sneezing, not to mention diahoea and lice.

Until the next installment………

Half way there………

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 11:05 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Half way there………
May 132016
 

I was told at the beginning that it takes two weeks to settle in and you know what they are right.

I finally feel like I know what I’m doing and the kids know what I will and will not tolerate. This of course has happened through the kids doing what kids to and testing me to the limit. on Wednesday and Thursday the kids (about 12 of the 27) were the naughtiest they could possibly be and I’m sure it was because I was in the room on my own both days. They hit, spat, threw things, screamed, cried and bit me. If the govt staff had of seen they would have given the children a flogging with a stick. Of course that was never going to be something I was going to do. So next best thing…….I took all the toys off them and left the room. This made them scream all the more. After doing this 2 days in a row i think they got it. Friday they were angels, well not quite but certainly the horrid behaviour stopped.

I get on well with the staff now which makes life a lot easier as well. The translator on my phone works a treat.

The other day a child was rushed off to hospital with a snake bite. Appears to have not been poisonous but made him quite sick for a couple of days. And then another child almost stepped on a snake after that. So they are around!! They said it was a yellow green coloured one. I think they have been disturbed by earthworks that is happening at the centre.

Most days there are visitors bearing gifts for the children. This is usually lollies, biscuits and toys. There is lots of photos taken and then they leave. Yesterday a couple of female monks came to offer prayers and thanks to staff for looking after children.

On Thursday night Justine and l were invited to Ang place for dinner with her family.  She had cooked pork in a broth and neither of us eat meat. Her solution ……strain some of the broth and give to us. Took a bit to explain that pork broth with the meat taken out is still meat!!! There was deep fried tofu, omelette and rice. Pineapple for dessert. She is such a lovely lady and her family are really nice. Their two children  both speak reasonable English. 

Its great to be in Hanoi for the weekend and around English speaking people, and to see Westerners  (would you believe) . And a change of food. Village food is great but limited variety. Hanoi is an amazing place. it is everything Ba Vi province isn’t . Which is not a bad thing. The village life is slow and friendly, while Hanoi is a crazy place. I would certainly not feel safe on the back of a vesper here. In fact crossing the road is highly dangerous and not for the faint hearted. The trick is to put your arm out as if to stop the traffic ( of course they won’t stop) and walk out into the traffic. Don’t stop, don’t hesitate, and don’t change direction. And if the gods are looking after you today you will get to the other side without incident!!!!! So far so good ?

The weather has cooled. It is now a comfortable 30- 32c.

Until the next instalment…….

 

 

 

It finally happened!!!!!

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 10:12 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on It finally happened!!!!!
May 102016
 

With so many volunteers coming through the centre it’s no wonder the govt staff aren’t particularly helpful or pleasant. For the first week I could not anything right even if it was right an hour ago. They told me off for everything…..don’t put that there…..go get that child out of bed…..no not that child put him back…..then a flurry of quick fire Vietnamese and they slam the door to there room and leave me to try and work it all out. I was sort of warned about this but until it actually happens you don’t think it’s as bad as it is. Very frustrating as all you are trying to do is help. WELL yesterday I wore a pair of black very baggy pants that I hadn’t worn before. The staff were all over me asking where I got them and how cool the material was. Then a bit of a chatter amongst themselves and then they turn around to me and say…..this good (pointing to pants) we like them and you……today I got invited in for their big cook up they were having in their room. I had to turn it down as it was all meat mostly. They now think I’m ok but weird as i don’t eat meat….and i did say yes to the fruit and sweet rice dessert they made. Now im allowed to do all the things i wasnt allowed to last week, they help me, guide me and are talking to me in a broken viet/lish hand signally type of way. Who would of thought that a pair of long pants would have done it aye….should have worn them last week,! Yesterday one of the volunteer staff put on lunch for us. what an amazing feast. She wanted to say thank you to us [click here to read more]

A day in the life of a volunteer

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 11:19 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on A day in the life of a volunteer
May 082016
 

At the moment there are three other volunteers, although they are employed by the local org here. Katie is the paed nurse from UK and has been here for around 2 years. She is amazingly dedicated to the children’s welfare and is a wealth of knowledge on the children and their personalities. She organises trips out for some of the more abled children, negotiates with the centre director and is quite good with talking Vietnamese. She has not thought about when she might move on and I’m guessing she will stay for a while yet. Then there is Justine from Oz and has been here 6 months and plans to leave in July.  She looks after the more difficult children and has a loving persona with everyone. She has also picked up quite a bit of the local lingo. Then there is Mel another kiwi and she has been here three months and is about to renew her visa for another three month’s. The locals call here meow meow. She is a go getter. She sees something that needs doing e.g water blasting the rooms, and she is off  buying a water blaster and into it. She tends to find herself in trouble a bit but she weather’s it well. They are all in their mid 20s all well travelled and committed to helping the children in whatever way they can. I on the other hand are the old lady. This means they are always asking me if I’m alright, do I need to rest and telling me if I look particularly old today….I don’t think I have ever felt so old….I thought I as doing pretty good but here I’m treated as an elder. This means that when we went for a picnic they make my meal first and [click here to read more]

Things I have learnt so far…….

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 9:54 pm  Uncategorized, Vietnam  Comments Off on Things I have learnt so far…….
May 052016
 

With the luxury of having a day off I have been able to reflect on the things I have learnt so far. Everyone is suppose to have equal rights on the road. However, who’s going to argue with a massive earth moving truck…..or better still a fleet of them travelling together.  The death toll on the roads on the holiday weekend was 150 in one day. Two of them were just up the road. How do I know? They mark the road with white paint the shape of the bodies where they landed. Ang  (lady that takes me to work and back) stopped the other day at the place of the accident  as there was still good pineapples on the side of the road and I had to pick them up. She said they came from the accident…. I noted that not many people smoked. Wrong!! The men smoke a huge bong. Not with THC but local tobacco. One of the volunteers that smokes said she tried it but the tobacco was very strong and bitter so she went back to bought tobacco. The main local diet is rice and noodles various ways, greens ( mainly morning glory and taro leaves), pork, beef, chicken (expect all parts of the chicken except feathers), tofu, eggs, all with various pickles and sauces. Not overly hot but spicy, sour and salty. They eat a lot of fruit. This village sells mainly pineapple. But have mango, bananas, and various other fruit I don’t recognise but taste good. Eaten on their own or with yoghurt which is always sweet even the ‘natural’ variety. yesterday I got to experience riding with three of us on the bike. This is fairly normal and you regularly see bikes with four and even five people on the bike. Nothing [click here to read more]

At the beginning

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 10:58 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on At the beginning
May 032016
 

Today I have been in Vietnam 4 days and in Ba Vi 3 days and man is it hot. But back to the beginning… I arrived in Hanoi after 36 hours without sleep, hot and sweaty and in need of a shower and sleep. But lets backtrack a bit more. From all the poor reviews I had read on south China air I was prepared for the worst. To my surprise ( and relief) the flight was pleasant and the food impressive, but not without incident. A man across from me had a turn of some sort and collapsed. A call went out for any doctor on the plane and would believe their were 8. Man got moved to first class so he could lie down……note to self…..must remember that for next time I travel long haul. Going through airport security was interesting. No customs checks and you got to pick which gate you went through….. declare or not declare. …no guesses which one I picked. And out I walked. Hoai met me at the hotel. As my room wasn’t ready we decided to spend time sorting out SIM card, Viet dong and something to eat. At about then I faded so back to room. Couldn’t sleep so thought I would go for a walk and buy up on some wearable clothes . By this time i was 44 hours without sleep. Got horribly lost trying to find the hotel but everyone was so friendly I worked it out. Next day had a tour of old quarter of Hanoi  with Hoai . What I didn’t realise was I had arrived on the Labour weekend holiday which goes for 5-6 days. Demonstrations in the street and local holiday makers galore. Then off to Ba Vi. Staying in hotel which is clean, [click here to read more]

Life of a volunteer in the small but beautiful Ba Vi

 Posted by Adelaide at 8:38 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on Life of a volunteer in the small but beautiful Ba Vi
Jan 222014
 

I arrived at the accommodation Sunday evening. I have volunteered in a few other countries, am a simple girl and don’t need a whole lot of luxuries. My only real requirement is a flushing western toilet. I can sleep on the ground and get by without showers or hot water and eat basic, simple  food if necesary. This accommodation however was certainly a step up from what I have experienced volunteering in the past. W stay in a hotel, not the nicest hotel but we got our own rooms with a double bed (which was rather comfortable), our own ensuite bathroom with a flushing toilet hot shower! The area is beautiful, the hotel is opposite a lake and the town is surrounded by rice paddies, farms and cows wander the streets. I can get quite cold at night since we are in the country side (2 hours outside Hanoi), but it is peaceful and beautiful. At night the streets are completely dark, there are no street lights but I think that is part of the beauty. you go to sleep to the sound of chickens in the hotel yard and in the morning you wake up and step outside to crisp, refreshing air. The way the food system works is that the leaders of the organisation give you a food allowance of what is the equivalent of $5Aud a day. This is more than enough as money goes a long way here and dinner alone usually only costs $1.50 – $2. At night there is only one restaurant available but is actually quite nice. Coming here though, you had better get used to noodles, rice and spring rolls. The food is always plentiful though and during the day there are a few more options (and of course you can always purchase [click here to read more]

A brief introduction (please read this before reading anything else)

 Posted by Adelaide at 8:10 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on A brief introduction (please read this before reading anything else)
Jan 222014
 

I have only been here 3 days but thus far it has been the best, mos rewarding but one of the most difficult things I have ever done. When reading these posts please remember that this is only one persons perspective, and while some things that occur at the orphanage may seem wrong or cruel, there is little to no resources available. People are doing the best they can for the children, are only doing what they think is right,, have the best of intentions and often, there really is no other way of Getting the job done.

Tam Biet Viet Nam

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 2:05 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Tam Biet Viet Nam
Aug 222013
 

It was with very mixed emotions thatI left La Jolie hotel for the trip to the airport to take me back to New York. My last day in Saigon was purposefully going to be relaxing.  I was not scheduled to meet Thu until noon so in theory I could have slept late.  Of course I was up at 6.  I relaxed and read before going down for my last breakfast around 7.  Afterwards I showered and organized my luggage.  Remember that half of my carryon had been filled with cloth diapers for the Centre.  That left plenty of room for the gifts I was bringing home. I was planning to give Thu my Vietnamese phone so that another volunteer could make use of it.  When she picked me up on her motorbike for lunch she was the southern version of Hahn.  Petite, energetic, smart, warm and open.  She took me to a Pho restaurant near where she lives.  Unlike Hahn she does not live at home with her parents.  Her mother still lives in the village that she grew up in.  Her father was killed in a motor scooter accident when she was 15. This may explain her maturity.  She is only 23 and has responsibility for many volunteers.  She coordinates 20-30 local (Vietnamese) volunteers and 5-10 international volunteers at any given time. We discussed the centers that she works with.  There are 2.  One is run by the catholic church and the other is highly unusual.  A woman who was working as a garbage collector and found herself so distressed by the homeless children she took her own money and raised private funds to start an orphanage.  As Thu descibes her she is selfless.  The children and the center are her life.  While the staff has a room, she has none.  She [click here to read more]

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