May 312016

As I sit in a hotel room in Guangzhou and quietly reflect on the last week I don’t know where to start… much has happened.

The last week at the centre was endured (yep I do mean endured)  with a mixture of emotions. It felt such a burden having to leave the children after achieving so much, sad as I’ve formed a loving bond with a couple of the children and elation as one of the children got to go home for a visit with their family. I swayed from just wanting to leave in the middle of the night so as not to have to say the enviable goodbyes, staying longer and wanting to see more of the country. But the reality was to see out the end of the week, cuddle the children as much as I could in the time I had left and document the things that I was doing in the hope that the next volunteer can continue the routines.

One of the children with disabled legs that has a gentle soul and is doing well with picking up English fron the volunteers had a surprise this week. In fact it was a surprise for everyone. The story was that her mother was dead and her father couldn’t look after her on his own, hence why she was at the centre. He remarried and took her home but the new wife could not cope with the level of need and she was returned to the centre. Father visits on occasion. Well this week four women, a grandmother and a male arrived to visit the child. It appears the mother is alive and well and working in China. She had come home for a holiday and she, her mother, sisters and brother had come to take child home for three weeks. Child was understandably ecstatic. We all cried in happiness for the child. A rather emotional sendoff had by all.

Then of course there are the children that really don’t belong at he centre and should be adopted out.  The story of one little boy who is the loveliest,  kindest child who was up for adoption. All was going well until adoptive parents arrived and noted that he had a bit of a limp. After medical checkup found a bit of an abnormality in a leg bone but nothing that would stop him from doing anything. Not good enough for them and they cancelled  the adoption. I had been working with this boy for three weeks when i heard this story and hadn’t even noticed there was an issue with his leg. That’s how noticeable it is!!

Then I met an Indian soapy star. Well not really but everyone in Vietnam thinks he is. Ronique is a volunteer that has been here before and came back for another couple of weeks this week. There is an indian tv soap showing here at the moment about an 8 year old bride. Has the same sort of following as Shortland Street. The star male character apparently looks like Ron. None of us think so and we reckon its just because Ron is the first Indian volunteer and you know how every one looks the same even when clearly they don’t. As you can imagine we have all been having a lot of fun with it.

As the last day approaches various staff at the centre have asked for various items of clothing. If I say yes to all requests I will leave the centre naked!!!!!!. So there was lots of disappointment as there was a steady run of ‘no’ until they finally left me alone.

I am asked what I thought of the centre, my thoughts about what they are doing, and what things would I like to see implemented. I find this really hard to answer as there are so many thoughts and raw emotions fighting for attention in my head and heart. I feel like I need time to process what I have seen and done, time to make sense of everything and time to reflect. There is so much to unpack mentally, so much to tell and oh so much still to do. So maybe in a week I will be in a better space to have some order to my thoughts and control over my emotions. In the meantime I leave the centre with a heavy heart and in the knowledge that the time is right to leave.

The saddest was saying goodbye to Ang whom was my motorbike taxi driver for the whole time I was there. I had dinner at her place, her husband put a banana in my bag every day (in case i got hungry) and had many conversations through what i call viet/lish charades. She made sure I was protected from the sun while on the bike, mostly made sure I had a helmet and was always happy to stop so I could take photos. The funniest time was when I saw the army training with their German shepherd dogs. I said let’s stop and watch. No problem. Well that was until I took out my camera. Before I even had it uncapped an army bloke came running towards us at the same time that Ang said hold on we are out of here. Heres Ang with one arm grabbing me so that I don’t fall off the bike with an army guy chasing us up the road while desperately trying not to drop my camera. Damn, it would’ve been a great shot.

A couple of days before I left Ang got a puppy. It looks like a shepherd cross and the cutest little thing. Then I went white. Ang you are not going to eat this puppy are you? She reassures me that he is a pet to replace their other old dog that died ( of old age and no they didn’t eat that one either). His name is Mickey. Ang begs me to stay. She says I can live with them, she will feed me and i can work at the centre. I try to tell her that I have to go home as my family and animals miss me but she is not convinced that animals miss humans. she gives me presents to take home to my family . I am really humbled by this generosity as they are a very poor family.

Then it’s into the car taxi and Jenna and i leave the village for the last time this time and head to Hanoi to start the next and last adventure before leaving the country………




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