Allambie Orphanage

Allambie Orphanage

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Last Thursday I got to visit Allambie for dinner to meet and hang out with the kids. It was one of my favourite moments in Saigon and I left feeling so inspired and even more passionate about finding and sharing information about the people here doing amazing things.

Abandoned as baby in Vietnam, founder Suzanne Hook was rescued by some English nurses from an orphanage in Saigon and taken back to the UK where she was adopted. As an adult, she started visiting Vietnam to volunteer and in 2010 made the life changing decision to give up her life in London and move to Vietnam permanently. Saddened by how badly run many of the orphanages here are run, and how bleak the lives of the children living there were, she was determined to show the Vietnamese that it can be done another way. Rather than being institutionalized, Suzanne wanted these children to have a home, and a family. She sold her house and car and set off for Saigon where she set up her own orphanage, Allambie.

Every night the family sit down to dinner together, mobiles are banned and they talk about their day. It was such a lovely experience to be part of that, and to see how close they all are. The kids are great, and after dinner we all sat down to play Uno and card games. Chuyen even taught me how to do a magic trick!

Allambie is a registered UK charity and has strict policies for their volunteers, everyone must provide a CRB form (criminal records bureau) or their countries equivalent. They mostly meet Suzanne first and then if she feels they would be a good fit, they are invited for dinner to meet the kids and hang out. I think it is such an important process. Many orphanages in Vietnam have volunteers come and go, which gives the children no sense of routine or stability. With other organisations you can come for a week, a month, maybe six and then leave again. These children form bonds with people, who then leave. Eventually, they will build up a wall and stop becoming close to people. I intend to go into this subject in more detail in another post soon. The beauty of Allambie, is that they have a stable family, Suzanne and the other children. The house is full of love and they all have a routine. Volunteers are essential in helping to keep everything running smoothly, but when they leave the kids still have their family and that makes a world of difference.

I can’t express how much admiration I have for Suzanne and what she has done here in Saigon. Stories like this are exactly why I am here, why I want to work in development and why I want to share it with you all!

http://www.allambie.co.uk/

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Versatile Blogger Award-Thank you for the nomination!!!!

versatile_blog_award

THE RULES:

1. Display the Award on your Blog.
2. Announce your win with a post and thank the Blogger who nominated you.
3. Present 15 deserving Bloggers with the Award.
4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.
5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself

A big thank you to Deborah, http://myriad234.wordpress.com/, for the nomination!!!

7 things about me 

1.  I have lived and worked in 5 countries. Most recently, as an ESL teacher in Taipei, Taiwan.

2. I am currently in Vietnam volunteering, and have previous experience in Cambodia, Australia and Taiwan.

3. I studied Dance Studies at the University of Wolverhamption in England. I still love to dance as a hobby, and recently had some salsa lessons!

4. I love to travel and have visited almost 20 countries, I hope to add at least two new places a year!

5. I am new to blogging, and writing in general and finding it both challenging and rewarding. 

6. I love tattoos, I have three but want lots more! 

7. I love music, epecially going to concerts and festivals.

Since I am so new to this I have chosen my Top 5 Blogs (instead of 15), all focusing on development and volunteering;

1.http://orphanagetourismcambodia.wordpress.com/?wref=bif

2.http://littleroseshelter.wordpress.com/

3. http://aidspeak.wordpress.com/

4.http://kimnguyenbrowne.wordpress.com/

5. http://how-to-volunteer-overseas.com/

Congrats to the nominees!

Just a few pics of my gorgeous Friday class!!

As some of you are probably aware, I have had a few mishaps recently in Saigon. The latest being snatch an grab after my run in the park last night, so I’m feeling a little down. This is a nice reminder of why I am here and why I love what I do!

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Last Friday we talked about what you would like to be when you grow up. The kids got really into it, though I think much of their amusement was down to my lack of artistic talents. One cutie told me he wanted to be a football player and play for Manchester United. There were a few who wanted to be doctor, dancers and dentists! These kids are from disadvantaged areas, and have some learning and behavioural problems but I hope that they can continue to dream big as they grow up and I’m working hard to instil a good attitude and work ethic where education is concerned.

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New Challenges

After an unsuccessful application to study at NCCU in Taipei, and with my job contract finishing in August, I was left feeling a bit lost. I had prepared myself for life as a student in Taiwan and naively (or just stupidly!) forgot to think about a Plan B. So, I had a choice, find another job exactly the same as the one I was about to leave and continue teaching for another year, or come up with something a little more challenging and exciting. As much as I enjoy teaching, it was beginning to become a little mundane and I felt I was losing my enthusiasm. I had been thinking about volunteering for the summer between semesters at university, so it was the obvious choice to just go and do that now. I figured since I couldn’t study right now (I had applied for a Master in International Development), some on the job training was the next best thing-if not better! I had money saved for university fees, no job and was ready to travel again, so I booked a flight and started packing! I decided to leave this trip relatively unplanned and just to go with the flow, which has proved to be the perfect plan so far.

Why Vietnam? (apart from the fact that I have never been here but have only heard amazing things!)

(from http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/vietnam/)

Development in Vietnam

Vietnam launched an economic reform programme in 1986. The core of Vietnam’s economic strategy has been rapid integration into the world economy.  Despite an initial improvement, with integration into the global market Vietnam struggles with strengthening its resilience to global fluctuations.

The Vietnamese economy suffers from inflation, which increases the price of goods and services putting further pressure on families.

Fifty per cent of the population still lives on less than US$2 a day. On top of this, large portions of the population remain vulnerable to sliding back into poverty as a result of either economic shocks or natural disasters such as typhoons and flooding.

Education of Vietnamese youth is an extremely important foundation for lifting their generation and their family out of poverty.

Volunteer Impact

The mission of our partner in Vietnam is to reduce poverty and provide better quality of life for disadvantaged children in Vietnam. This builds cross-cultural education and understanding between Vietnamese people and people around the world.

Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Vietnamese communities, focusing primarily on displaced, destitute, disabled and orphaned children.

As a volunteer in Vietnam you can provide love, affection, education and support to orphaned children.  You will help to improve their living facilities allowing them to be self-sufficient and providing a safe and secure environment in which they flourish. 

I was due to arrive in Saigon on September 1st, but I was having such a great time in Chiang Mai, Thailand visiting a friend that I decided to stay a couple of days longer. I was also burning through money quite quickly I took the long way here, Bangkok->Siem Reap->Saigon. After an awesome week of massages, beers, buses, various flights, sightseeing and delicious food, I have finally arrived. Now what? To be honest, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the size of the city!

I decided to dedicate 3 months of my life to volunteer in Vietnam (although, I am three days late now :P…). When I was still in Taiwan, I sent e-mails to four different agencies, and to my surprise, heard nothing back. I even e-mailed one of them four times! So, I’m off out to the city to talk to as many people as I can and find an organization who needs my help. Wish me luck!!