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!)
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.
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!!