A small group (Jenn, Amos, Sanjev, Christian, Michael, Kristie B) left for the sunny beaches of Nha Trang. Carolyn, who was headed back to the US, headed to the airport with them.
The rest of us (Megan, Minh-Thanh, JTran, 2 Thuys, Vivian, Norris) stayed behind. We wanted to visit some orphanages in the area, so we rented a car and driver for the day and headed out of the city to a few orphanages in the surrounding area.
The first orphanage we went to seemed very nice; the whole area was gated and spacious, and the individual buildings were red-brick. We spoke to one of the ladies who was in charge at the office, and she told us a little bit about the establishment. There were twenty-five houses, and each house had a "mother" who took care of a set of orphans. Once they reached a certain age, the boy orphans went to live in another house with a "father." The mom of the house had to be a single, while the fathers who cared for the boys could be married, which Y-Nhy had a problem with, hehe.
We were fortunate enough to visit one of the houses. It was a little crowded for so many kids, but pretty nice nonetheless. The whole area looked like a park, but the lady at the orphanage said they were very poor.
After that, we headed to another orphanage that was in the middle of a narrow, rickety street. It was only there for a short while, and didn't get to see any of the children. Norris wanted to find out how to adopt a child, but the lady there said that we couldn't, and that such things had to be negotiated with the government.
We headed to Maison chance after that, which was the orphanage JTran's mom wanted to donate money to. The lady in charge, Aline, wasn't there. Some of the boys said she might be at the orphanage's school, so we decided to check it out. Two boys on a motorcycle led us there.
The school was newly built, and it looked very nice. There were a ton of paintings on the walls, and we were told that they were painted by some of the disabled people who lived there.
We went into a room where there were people on sewing machines making clothes. We saw disabled people who were doing carpentry in another room. This gave some people an opportunity to make a living and taught them skills so that they could support themselves. In another room that we passed by, a few handicapped men were working on carpentry, crafting small chairs and tables.
We were lucky enough to meet the artists who did the paintings. they were all in a room upstairs. All of them were handicapped - their fingers were malformed and they were in wheelchairs. It was absolutely amazing to see them create such beautiful paintings even with their disabilities, especially since most of us could barely even draw a decent stick figure!
We purchased some paintings from the school and took pictures with the artists who had made the paintings, and then we headed back to the joint orphanage.
Fortunately, this time Aline was there. She was originally from Switzerland, but her Vietnamese was perfect. She had a nurse (who was French) show us around their medical facility, and Norris was able to speak to her and translate everything she said to us.
We also talked to one of the doctors there. He seemed very young - he was from the US, so we spoke to him in English about his work there. We poked our heads into a couple of the rooms in the orphanage and learned about how they took care of some of the handicapped children and adults. After we toured the rest of the facility, we sat down in Aline's office and spoke with her for a while about Maison Chance.
We went back to the hotel late in the day, and finished off our day by going out to dinner at a lovely Korean restaurant with the doctor whom we had met at Maison Chance.