The 15th of november I tried to help some of the children I did not help so far. One of them is handicapped and can only with many difficulties write a number. His full body goes in tensed movement only to write a single 1. It is for him very hard to breath and often he needs a lot of energy simply to continue breathing. He can almost not move from one place to another, for that he needs a mechanical help. However his smile is incredibly full of joy. As I decided to spend some time with him he was incredibly happy. I had noticed despite his handicap he could calculate much better than most of the other children. He just needs much time to write. We did some exercises. He could succeed in many but still struggle in some. I could not fully understand his problem so far but maybe tomorrow or next time I get a chance to get closer to him I will understand his problem.
After this I joined the not disabled children and saw one doing some mathematical exercises. He was somehow not really able to resolve the exercise and simply copying a resolved one. As I saw this I asked him to do this without the resolution so that I could understand his weakness. I was surprised, compared to the difficulty of the exercise he had maybe 10% of the necessary knowledge. In such cases I consider the chance of success very low but if I bring only 5 more % it could help hence I try. And by chance I did not give up as he could understand very quickly. From 10% he raised quickly around 90% using many specific exercises. I am wondering how this could be. I assume he had somehow already learned at school but again I fear this comes from a lack of self confidence that can be compensated with patience.
Next day provided as well new surprises. As I arrived, I started with the disabled children being able to write and count. I checked some english and mathematical levels. After a while I saw one of the kinder wanted to make a puzzle. Another child being blind wanted to take part to making the puzzle. I was surprised. As the children being blind was not welcome to take part to the puzzle, I found a very simple puzzle and took the blind child in the arm so that we try it together. I would never have thought myself of doing such a thing with such a disabled child. Obviously he could not do much. I helped him positioning the pieces but he had a lot of fun with this. I tried to make him observe the edge of the pieces so that he can feel there are similarities he could use to try positioning the pieces. However, he was certainly too young to understand this and just wanted the fun when moving his hands over the puzzle that everything was done.
Later as I went to the normal children, I saw one child copying one exercises from another child, I let him copying to the end and then I asked him to do some exercises linked with what he copied because I had the feeling he did not understood what he wrote … he explained me he copied for another child. Thus I requested him to call the other child and when he arrived I gave him the exercises I had prepared for the first child. He had some problems at the beginning but as many of these children he understood quickly and then was able to answer correctly.
Before I left, one of the less handicapped children proposed me to play chess. As he was still young I thought that should be easy for me … after 6 moves he won. We played a second time, I could survive around 12 moves … but he succeeded again easily … I like such kind of surprises however at the same time one thinks if the child would not have been disabled a success full life would be waiting for him.
This was already my last day at the orphanage. As I was leaving, one of the children called me, running to me and surrounding his arms around me. He then ran back … This was a good summary of my stay here. Whereas in Thailand people show easily their feeling, one feels in Vietnam people are protecting themselves. They would not open that much despite they may want to but the hard life they had because of french colonization and US war certainly changed them into such attitude. I wonder how it was before french came.