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:

Thursday August 8

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 9:44 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Thursday August 8
Aug 102013

This is a very short post.  RAIN!!!!!!  The day was dictated by the weather.  Unable to bike to centre and the taxi came an hour late.  We were not able to do many of the activities with the kids that necessitated being outdoors.  It was a hard day for all.

Weds. at the Centre (August 7)

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 9:40 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Weds. at the Centre (August 7)
Aug 072013

The day at the centre was busy as always.  The heat and humidity were at an all time high and we all seemed to be moving in very slow motion.  Even the energetic Spanish volunteers were less energized and playing softer slower music. The weather in Viet Nam is a tru force of nature.  After lunch we returned to the center in brutal sun and humidity.  At about 3:45 the skys literally opened up with pouring rain and gusty winds.  Of interest is that the children rather than being frightened of this were delighted.  Smiling and laughing and enjoying the experience. In contrast, I  was not so delighted.  We had to bike back to the hotel in the downpour with thunder and lightening.  Unfortunately my trusty Hanoi poncho was not able to keep me even relatively dry.  There goes another day in another world.  Not sure what the lesson here is but I am definitely learning to go with the flow.  Let’s see if it sticks when I return to New York.  

Tuesday at the Centre

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 11:37 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on Tuesday at the Centre
Aug 062013

The day began with my usual 6am rising. I went to the market and bought some bananas and dragon fruit.  The sweetness of the bananas here is nothing like the bananas at home.  After breakfast I was able to use Madeline’s bike to get to the centre.  Quite a difference from the one I had used on Monday.  It actually had a padded seat! I spent the morning in rooms 1 and 2.  In an effort to get to know more of the children I worked with a little girl named Zan who , when she is taken out of the crib and unfolds is quite tall.  I mean this literally.  The children sleep in metal “cribs”.  Some are curled up on the metal slats not using the thin quilts that are in there.  Many of them are in cribs with another child.  The children that are severly handicapped and not mobile are in a larger crib that may have 5-6 kids.  I will try to take some pictures but I hope my description gives you some idea of the room.  So back to my efforts to work with another child. The little girl  Zan  is able to stand with support and walk if you hold her.  We think that if we are able to get her up daily and practice we may get her to walk with the bars like Toan. However, she does not seem to use her hands to hold the bars.  I also tried to get her to hold the spoon herself in an effort to feed herself and that is not happening at this time.  There are many needs here at the center.  Not only is there a need for equipment ther is a need for PT, OT, and someone to work with the staff [click here to read more]

Yesterday, Monday August 5

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 11:46 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on Yesterday, Monday August 5
Aug 052013

Even though I set my alarm for 7:15 I am up before 6.  Not sure whether it is the sun riseing or my anticipation of the day ahead. I was able to ride my “new” push bike to the centre.  It has good tires and breaks but the seat and it’s height is another matter entirely.  Although there are several hills I was able to get there  without too much distress.  Not sure how it will feel this morning getting back on the seat… At the centre I am spending my time in Rooms one and two.  The mornings are filled with feeding and activities.  Activities are created by the volunteers.  We have a group of Spanish volunteers from Madrid, as I mentioned and they bring passion, energy, fun and MUSIC!!!!  There was alot of dancing yesterday. Feeding the children is an interesting experience.  The staff feeds the kids while they are lying in their cribs.  Many of them are capable of feeding themselves with a little help.  Of course it takes much longer and is much messier in the short run but it is well  worth the effort.  As volunteers we have the time and patience. (Yes, I said patience) to work with the kids.  I have already seen a couple of them feeding themselves and you can see their self esteem imporving.  No kidding.  So the morning ends. After a too long mid day break where we eat lunch in a resdtaurant near the centre we go back to the kids for the afternoon.  Again,  we do activities- a walk to the playground.  Do not picture the playgrounds of your childhood or your kid’s childhood.  The eqipment is very old and rusty with the exception of two pieces that are relatively safe.  In fact most of the equipment [click here to read more]

The Weekend

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 1:31 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on The Weekend
Aug 042013

Time off was not nearly as interesting as the work at the centre.  Our plans to go to the BaVi State Park were washed out, literally.  The rain was heavy and the power went out for most of the day.  Got alot of reading done but went a little stir crazy.  Today, Sunday, the weather was mixed but there was enough sun in the afternoon for me to take a push bike.  Once again the words to describe the bikes here are not sufficient. Fortunately, I will have lots of photos.  Tomorrow will begin the first full week for me at the centre.  

Volunteering at the Centre

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 12:48 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Volunteering at the Centre
Aug 022013

Once again the words to describe my first day at the centre will not begin to describe the actual experience.  Despite the challenging circumstances of the children  the volunteers, and there are many this week bring alot of energy and love to the children.  There are over 300 residents and only about 25 staff.  So the volunteers are not only welcomed they are fully utilized.  Imagine 25 infants crying and needing to be fed and changed and having only 3-4 sets of hands.  Many of the babies are disabled, blind, cerebal palsey, various deformities.  All of them are beautiful and of course love to be held and talked to. So after a tour of all the different areas I found my self spending the morning in the nursery feeding holding and changing many diapers.  Funny how fast that skill returns to you.  The volunteers thake a lunch/break and walk to a restaurant and cafe until they return for the afternoon.  I have been very lucky.  The group that was here when I arrived is an energetic and friendly mis.  We have 9 young people from Madrid.  They are all in there mid to late 20’s and professionals who take their holidays to travel and volunteer.  For many of them this is not the first time they have done this.  ther is Malanie from Germany and Catherine from Denmark, Toan from Canada whose parents are both So Vietnamese.  He is very special. A post in itself, so let me  go on. After the break we ruturned to the children.  Both Melanie and Catherine have been working with the older children and have been dedicating themselves to getting some of them moving.  This may sound strange but their days are usually spent sitting in there room on chairs with not physical or [click here to read more]

First morning in BaVi

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 12:14 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on First morning in BaVi
Aug 012013

Ok.  The posts may be fewer and father between.  I am hoping that I will get the hang of things but the computer here seems to automatically switch everything to Vietnamese so I am taking much longer to get things done.   The trip from Hanoi was uneventful with the exception of a cow crossing the road that we needed to stop for shortly before we got here.  The hotel is on a beautiful lake with the mountains in the background.  It is very hot and humid and since I had not gotten any mosquito bites previously I came down to the porch after unpacking without putting on repellent.  BIG Mistake.  In the short time I was meeting and talking to other volunteers I was covered in bites.  I put some repellent on and now seem to be fine.  I am not the oldest volunteer here but the majority of the others are closer to Jeremy and Jesse’s ages and come from all over the world.  There are 7 young people from Madrid who have volunteered all over the world and they tell me the conditions are some of the worse they have seen at the Center.  They have been here 2 weeks and are very idealistic and would like to change things.  Some of the other volunteers realize that if they can make a difference, however small, it is a positive thing.  There is a child, age unknown, that had the nick name Lazy boy.  Melanie, from Munich has been working with him for over 6 weeks and he is now called Curious boy.  He had not walked.  Now he is walking!  She will be leaving next week so I am thinking  I will try to take over his care.                   [click here to read more]

Last day in Hanoi before leaving for BaVi

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 5:06 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on Last day in Hanoi before leaving for BaVi
Jul 312013

Today was a much quieter day. After spending two very busy days with Hoai I was schedule to meet with Hahn at 2.  That enabled me to have a leisurely  breakfast and return to Kiem Lake for a walk.  I had walked the lake yesterday evening before dinner and it was very different this morning.  In the early evening it was crowded with many people leaving work and tourists.  This morning there were many young children in groups as well  as some with parents and grandparents.  I took many pictures that I hope I will be able to post.  The lake is a few short blocks from my hotel but the street crossing continues to be a challenge.  I have devised two methods.  If I am fortunate to be crossing at the same time as a Vietnamese person I just walk next to them.  This is about a 98% chance of survival.  The second method if there is no one to cross with is to put my hand out and close my eyes and pray! Not sure of that statistic. At 2 Hahn came to fetch me.  We went to her favorite coffee house and talked for a couple of hours about BaVi and her experience with the program.  Hahn grew up in Hanoi about 10 minutes from the hotel.  As she explained she is living at home as most Vietnamese do until they marry. She will meet me at noon tomorrow to go to BaVi. A highlight of my stay in Hanoi has been making the acquaintence of new friends.  During my first breakfast Michael and Fritzi were seated next to me and we spent some time talking.  They were going to Halong Bay and returning Weds night to the hotel to meet friends for dinner.  We agreed we [click here to read more]

Xin Chao

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 1:04 am  Vietnam  Comments Off on Xin Chao
Jul 302013

Today was my second day on the motor scooter with Hoai.  She continues to orient me to the culture and language of Viet Nam.  I can now say hello (see above) and cam on (pronounced come in)- thank you.  As promised Hoai was here at 9 am so that we could get to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum.  I was not prepared for this experience.  The very long lines were moved along quietly and quickly by soldiers dressed in white.  No cameras or phones allowed.  The mood is serious and respectful.  Once inside the stone structure it is very cool.  The body is embalmed and resting peacefully in a glass enclosure.  According to Hoai,  this experience is very important to the Vietnamese people, particularly those from the north.  From the masoleum we visited the museum and the gardens.  We also saw the home that Ho Chi Minh lived in. The museum was interesting.  Of particular interest was the perspective presented of the American war. From there we went to the Women’s museum.  There are several floor each with a different focus.  They covered the women’s role in the family as well as their role in war. When we left the museum Hoai took me to a noodle shop where you sit on very low stools and eat on the street, literally.  We ate traditional rice noodles with meat,fish and broth.  Very delicious.  By the time Hoai delivered me back to my hotel I was pleased to have experienced (and survived) another day on the back of a motor scooter.

Arriving in Hanoi

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 9:50 pm  Vietnam  Comments Off on Arriving in Hanoi
Jul 282013

After a long journey that was not nearly as exhausting as I had thought it would be I arrived in Hanoi thus morning.  The drive from the airport defies description.  I can tell you that it is a combination of cars, motor scooters, bicycles, and pedestrians.  No traffic lights and a seemingly free for all in every direction.  And if you have ever driven in a car where I am a passenger you can imagine how I was feeling.  When I got to the hotel everything was good.  My room was ready and I was very warmly welcomed.  I had expected Hahn to be meeting me here but instead Hoai came to orient me.  I was at first confused but realized very quickly this was going to be an amazing day and I was not disappointed. She said she would take me to get a phone and to the travel agency and exchange money and do some sight seeing.  We went outside and she handed me a helmut.  YES, I spent the day on the back of a motor scooter being driven by Hoai, a beautiful 21 year old recent university graduate.  It was incredible.  We went to the oldest university in Hanoi which is now preserved as a tourist attraction.  I took many pictures that I hope I will be able to figure out how to share with you.  That’s all for today.

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