Starting volunteering at the orphanage of Hoi An

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Next day, monday the 12th of November was my first day in the orphanage. As I arrived, I was proposed to help to the most handicapped children. They are 5 children and they cannot really stand or speak but their look is incredibly full of joy. I had a chance to learn the rules of domino. I had never played this game. A physiotherapist was there taking care of one of the children. He seemed to be very motivated by his work and I had immediately the feeling he liked the children very much. After playing 3 times with one child, I went to the second room.
In the room around 12 children were sitting having a desk to write or paint. They are all handicapped too but they can sit and walk. I started to look around and saw one was doing some mathematics. He could hardly write but was very good in making multiplication and division. I checked with him many of his homework. Another one was trying to read english. Same as in Thailand, I noticed there was a big lack when counting. I tried to teach them but after a few trials I noticed they got bored.  There was as well a girl, around 12 years old, she could count until 5. I tried to teach her counting further. Talking to her she had an incredibly deep look, she was showing how good it was for her someone taking time to teach her something. In the room, a lady was taking care of the children. I found her really good and very motivated. Children seem to love her a lot. I stayed there until 10:00AM and then I had to leave coming back at 2:00PM. I joined Nino and went for a coffee in our village which would fit in any poetry’s film. After lunch I went back to the orphanage.
As I arrived, a boy was doing some calculation. I noticed he could do easy sum very good but as soon as a sum result was over 10 he could not find the result. I then gave him many exercises focused on his difficulty. It is always interesting with children, one cannot speak with them but we can communicate very good around mathematical problematics. At the end he understood. Looked like none so far had had enough time or competencies to explain him how to do. As I wanted to teach further to the girl, the lady explained me she could not understand. She was not able to read or really speak as she was mentally disabled. I had not noticed anything. Later the lady showed some games with balls that the children enjoyed a lot. The lady and myself took part to the games which made children even more happy. It was already 4:00PM and I had to go. Nino had planned another cooking class. Hence in the evening we would eat what she would have prepared … and it was excellent … After the restaurant, as we arrived at out hotel, I had an email saying another interview was proposed for the job I was already interviewed on friday. Next interview was planned for next day 5:00PM (french time … 11:00PM in Vietnam). Hence I decided I would go only in the morning to the orphanage so that I can get some rest before the interview.

On the 13th, I informed I would come only in the morning and started immediately with the children of previous day. As many wanted to draw, I went to next room where children not disabled, this time were doing their homework. At the beginning they felt confused, a guy much bigger than local Vietnam sized people, having completely different hairs and not speaking local language arrives and tries to speak with them. The beginning is always funny. Again I started with english. One of the children was motivated. He read some english and I read some too. I noticed again he could not read numbers and as he was not disabled I gave him quite many exercises. I could see he was fed up but I continued until he could count until 20. After this I promised him we would start again next day. Another boy was trying to do some chemistry. It was a very long time I did not do any, it was about ordering the chemical equations. I could not remember but again training together we found out how to do it. It was fun. After this I came back and again tried to help the partially disabled children. I tried to check how could count the boy of the previous day. He could remember a little. Then I again tried with the girl and succeeded making her write a few letters. It was already 10:00AM. I went back to our hotel and prepared a litlle the interview. After this we went for cafe and lunch and I went for rest while Nino went buying our mango 🙂

Next day I was impressed from the improvements of some children. What I had tried to teach seemed to have been a seed. Some could really improve their mathematical or english level. I was feeling a mix of happiness and ego. Spending time with the children is always very fun. Today, a child came and said me hello rising his arms. I took him in the arms and noticed he was blind. I had not noticed it so far, the child was really good to be able to find his orientation. Bigger children seem to like taking care of the smaller taking them in the arms so that they become a part of the missing affection their parents have not been able to give them.
Globally, very few children are able to concentrate very long. Most of them are very easily distracted and trying to make a 30 minutes private course can be hard as one needs to accept that they stop hearing looking around and start again to try to concentrate for a small exercise. After this again they will not hear or look at the exercise. However, without insisting one may miss completely the occasion to help them mainly when one can volunteer only a short time.
What I like in this orphanage is the big number of children. One finds always a child needing some help and sitting close to him will raise at the beginning the attention of all the others. I hope in this very short volunteering time I succeed in giving to some of them the missing kick which will help them to get enough self confidence to know they can change their life.

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