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Monica in Vietnam

Monica (CIMA)
Childrens Hope in Action, Vietnam

After weeks of anticipation, I have finally touched down in central Vietnam for a voluntary assignment that I obtained through AFID.


It's Day 1 of my two weeks at CHIA. This inspiring NGO offers life-saving programs on health, disability, housing, and water and sanitation to disadvantaged children and families in the Quang Nam province that are barely surviving on less than $3USD a day.


My usual London train commute is great at c30minutes, but here it is a 5 minutes walk! One could view the addition of wading through floods and torrential winter rain as a downside, but a good pair of flip-flops and an attractive poncho adds to the experience!

I met with Dung the general manager, her staff plus volunteers from Australia, all a friendly team eager to share their passion for CHIA and take me through the financial systems, and I've written up a very satisfying to do list for ticking off.


Unfortunately the rain sabotaged travel plans for the disabled children for their regular therapies at the centre so I've been told it's quiet today, but as schools are closed I had the welcome addition of two co-workers - Dung's angelic children!


I'm so enjoying the daily working life at CHIA with the friendly and insightful locals and volunteers.

Staff are in early, having dropped off their children to school at 7am on a standard motorbike commute, and may have traveled from 50km away. I backpacked in Vietnam many moons ago but had to be reminded of walking confidently across roads otherwise one would be waiting a while to let all the motorbikes pass, some with families of 4+ including kids!

It's tempting to stop at one of the many street vendors and cafes along the way for breakfast, serving the French influenced Vietnamese baguette called banh mi stuffed with flavour-some meat, veg and herbs, or pho which is the soup of rice noodles and usually beef or chicken.

In between a bit of barefoot budgeting in excel (my favourite spreadsheet!) I hitched a ride to the historic centre for a spot of lunch-time shopping and intense bartering, finding myself ordering 6 items which I doubt will be the end of it!

There are also many Buddhist temples, a welcome piece of tranquillity from the peeping horns and dusty roads at the end of the day.

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