Friday, March 6, 2009

A Better Understanding

In the morning I ate breakfast and went to Thi Nghe with Judy (Australia), Gordon (Canada), and Sylvia (Switzerland). We went to the usual room on the second story and played with the kids for a while. After an hour a nun named Sister Mary came up to me and said that she had never seem me before and asked if I would I like a tour. She took me around the whole campus and explained to me about each area. It turns out the there are actually 2 C shaped building connected at a corner, and both are for disabled children. Unlike what I had been told at the PH there are only disabled children at Thi Nghe. She told me that there are 400 children total, and their handicaps vary a lot. The wing that we generally go to is for severely handicapped children that will never have the ability to learn in a classroom setting and generally can't walk or talk. They are broken down into age groups, the younger being upstairs and the older on the lower level. The middle wing houses the ICU and all of the kids that are extremely handicapped or sick; most of these kids will die soon. The third wing has a sowing shop where employees make clothes and diapers for the kids, a kitchen where they prep a lot of the food, and the administrative offices. The C shape building I didn't know existed is for older kids that can learn, many of whom have down syndrome or mild autism and can communicate and get around on there own. Many of these children will be going to a government run work facility once they turn 18, although they can choose not to. 

Pics: 1. One of the C shape buildings at Thi Nghe 2. The younger kids crib room at Thi Nghe

She told me about the history of the facility. It was opened by the government with the help of a catholic convent in the mid 70's. Many of the kids birth defects are a result of Agent Orange, which has a half life of 40 years and is only now starting to go away. There are 5 nuns, including her, that oversee the facility and all of the other women are employees. There are no men that work there except the two security guards at the gate. At the end of the tour we ended up in the same wing that I have been working in. She told me that no one visits the older kids, who are severely handicapped (the younger ones are much, much cuter) and asked me if I would help with the feeding there instead of upstairs. I agreed, and I am glad that I did. The kids upstairs have been difficult to feed because like most kids they just want to play and are easily distracted. The kids downstairs range from 14 to 21, and just like any adolescent growing boys get really hungry. When it was time to eat they got really excited and started howling until they were fed, and feeding them was really easy. As fast as I could get food on the spoon the kid I was feeding had already swallowed the previous bite and was ready for the next. Also, the women that worked down there really appreciated the help. I think that I will keep going down there.

After lunch at the PH I went to Ky Quong and played with the same kid that I did the day before. We did more of the same activities, nothing notable happened there. 

Pics: 1. Playroom at Ky Quong. 2. The kid I have been talking about and me. 3. Two of the younger kids on a seesaw 

When I got back I went for a run with the Swedes in the park then went for a smoothie with them and Katrine. It was still so hot at 7 that Katrine and I decided to go to the pool that I went to earlier in the week. I thought that I knew the way but when we were where I thought it was I decided that the street didn't look familiar so we turned around and walked further down the street for 30 minutes, only for me to again decide that we were not in the right place. I was a little embarrassed and was really apologetic to Katrine, but she said not to worry about it. On the way back to the PH I asked her if she would mind checking where I had originally thought it was. She said ok, and we turned onto that street again and walked for maybe 20 more feet than the previous time and there it was. We walked in at 7:40, but they wouldn't let us swim because the pool closed at 8. So frustrating, but at least I got to hang out with Katrine and get to know her a little.  

Afterwards I played Vietnamese Deuces (a card game) for a bit then went to sleep. I am definitely going to the beach with the street kids on Saturday and maybe meeting up with Anika and her friend and spending the night there so I can relax on the beach for sunday as well. I probably won't get a chance to write till Sunday....

No comments:

Post a Comment