Quality Down Time

I had the privilege of going to Dai Loc last Friday and what a blessed day it was. I had originally planned to go on Wednesday, which was a nice day, but Friday was amazing. The sun was shinning and the air was warm – which is a wonderful experience after days and days of rain, and a friend was able to come along with me. I was so looking forward to the experience and wasn’t disappointed.

It took us about 50 minutes to get to the orphanage and it was wonderful to see the kids. Most of them were still at school; between school and tutoring, the students are often working until 6pm or later at school. The children that were there we mostly older, and they aren’t always interested in what we’re doing, but today I had prepared for them. I had brought them some of their favorite fruits – green mangoes and pomelo (white grape fruit), to dip in chili salt.

I picked the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks for us to watch and we settled in. All of us sat and ate together, just the seven of us, with the caretakers peeking their heads in every once-in -a-while and taking a bit of the fruit to eat, too. It was really nice to catch up with them and see how their classes are going because they are often busy when I come to visit on Wednesdays.

After our snack and chat, we sat down to watch Alvin, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it. Of the five kids that were there that day, four of them stayed and watched the whole movie. I loved hearing them laugh and relax with me after such a long week of school. On the ride back to Da Nang, I just took my time enjoying sun and air and the whole day, and reflecting on the wonderful time I had just had with some great kids.
-Stephanie

Birthdays in Dai Loc

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen, especially the city of Da Nang. Da Nang has everything most people would love to have in a place they live. It has beautifully lush, green mountains and an ocean that never stops, but one of the most beautiful sights I have seen since coming to Vietnam wasn’t found in its landscape or even in its wonderful people. It was found within the walls of the orphanage in Dai Loc.

It happened shortly after I started working with Orphan Voice and with the children in Dai Loc. I was told that it was part of my job to foster the love of the children and help them to experience love. To me there’s no better way to do that then to foster a sense of family and one of the first things I thought would help us do that was to celebrate the children’s lives. So along with the others who were working with me at the time, we decided to throw a birthday party for all the birthdays we had missed for that year. We started with games and then ate some cake, then we gave them the small presents we had chosen for them.

The presents were purchased and wrapped with care, but I was nervous about how they would be received. I didn’t know the children very well yet and I definitely wasn’t sure about the ages of the 18 children we were celebrating, but as we handed them their gifts, my eyes were opened. They had each received a different book to read and when I saw how old some of the children were and how simple the books seemed in my eyes, I thought for sure many of them would look on the books with disgust and think about how the books they had received were too simple for them and that they were too old for such childish books. To my great surprise and delight, they all seemed to like them. In fact, in that moment I was overwhelmed as I realized that each of the books were read with relish and that when they finished one book, they traded with someone else and read the next book. I had never seen children enjoy books so thoroughly. It made me stand in awe that something so simple could be such a delight to them and at the same time it made my heart break that they would be so desperate for books, while I had grown up reading any and every book I ever wanted. What would it be like to grow up it such a way that even the simplest of books would be a treasure?

I only hope that in the future, they not only realize the value of the gifts they received, but they would realize that each of them have value and worth. That they are the true gifts and that life is the most precious gift of all.

Painted Nails

This is Lan.  To you she might just look like an ordinary Vietnamese girl.  Let me assure that she is not.  She lives in Dai Loc orphanage. I have had the privilege of seeing her beautiful face once a week.
Recently when we went for our weekly visit to Dai Loc we took nail polish to let the girls paint their fingers and toes with.  Lan sat looking at all the choices she had and I motioned to her that I would paint for her if she wanted.  She smiled and nodded yes, immediately picking a color and getting a chair in front of me.  I held her sweaty hands and painted her nails a glittery silver.  On each nail, she payed close attention to make sure that they were perfect.  When I was done with her nails, I motioned to her feet.  She looked at me as if to say, ‘Are you sure?’  I smiled back and pulled her foot into my hand.  There is something to be said about holding someones foot.  It is intimate, a way of saying to that person that you care for them with abandon of all the walls that they might put up.  That is what I wanted Lan to know; that I didn’t care how dirty her foot was, I was going to make it pretty.  I was going to do something seemingly insignificant, but something that would make her walk around smiling at her feet.  So I sat there holding that dirty little foot, hoping that she would eventually be able to see the true beauty that was so tenderly used to create her. That every time she smiled at those nails, her spirit would realize what she was made for.  I believe that those painted nails can make all the difference. –Shea Poole, Orphan Voice volunteer

Victory House, a place to call home…

“No one loves me like Victory House, not even the orphanage that I was raised in.” –  Linh (Victory House Resident)

Meet Linh from Victory House, a place that she is glad to call home.  Linh came to Victory House from a local orphanage.  As you can imagine, an orphanage is not the ideal place to grow up.  Not that it isn’t better than being alone, but it can be difficult.  Linh is in college for nursing and has recently begun her internship.  Each day she learns her duties in a hospital alongside the doctors and nurses.  As she soon learned, this environment can be harsh too.

Linh has learned through her experiences that the best way to treat people is with kindness and respect.  The way she practices this is by coming home each day and helping her fellow housemates in any way she can.  Linh says, “No one loves me like Victory House, not even the orphanage that I was raised in.”

It is through your generous support that she is able to know a loving home environment.  Thank you for continuing to make her feel loved.

If you would like to help Orphan Voice in its work, you may do so here. Thanks!

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Thue’s Story

I would like for you to meet Thue.  Thue is eight years old and she lives at Promise House.  Her story is similar to so many orphans here in Vietnam.  She is the youngest of four children, with no father present in the home.  Her mother was forced by her extreme poverty to bring Thue to live at Promise House in February of 2010.  In many other aspects she is no different than any other little girl.  Thue enjoys school and playing with her friends at the orphanage.  She is very smart and a bit shy.  She has a caring nature and seems to be concerned for other’s well being.

Thue was born with a cleft lip and palate.  When she was five she had the first part of the operation to correct the problem, but unfortunately it was never finished. In school she was having trouble, because her speech was so impeded the teachers couldn’t understand her. Through Orphan Voice, she has a chance to have this corrected and finish the surgery need to complete the process.

On July 22 she underwent the remaining part of surgery at a hospital in Hue.  The surgery was a success, with Thue speaking more clearly within a few days.  She will also have  need to have speech therapy to continue to improve her speech.  Thue is on the path to a complete recovery  All this was made possible through donations to Orphan Voice.  The work here can seem daunting and never ending at times, but it is a successful story like this that makes it all worthwhile.  Knowing that Thue will grow to have a life that she may not have thought possible is very rewarding.  Thank you for being a part of such a special little life.

 

Micro-Enterprise: Pig Farm

As a way to keep children out of orphanages, Orphan Voice works with selected families to help them make more money. Since the typical family that we work with makes less than 50 USD per month, making more money is a pressing need. It also reduces their dependency on others for a handout and gives them more self-respect. But the rural poor lack education and skills.  Nevertheless, with extra help, some families are successful. As one of our partners said about our micro-enterprise efforts: “Orphan Voice is teaching the poor to fish rather than just giving them a fish.”

True. But in the picture, below, we actually are helping the poor “raise a pig” rather than catch a fish! Several months ago, Orphan Voice purchased a pregnant sow for a poor, rural family. Here was our deal with them: “We will give you the sow and help you with feed for your first litter of pigs. In return, when you have a litter of pigs, find a non-relative, poor neighbor and give them a pig–to bless them.”

And that has happened! Below, the first beneficiary feeds gives a pig to a poor neighbor.  She is “paying it forward.” They love being able to help one anther.

If you would like to help those who are willing to work and only need a left, donate here.

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Children in Need

Knowing of Orphan Voice’s FAMILY PRESERVATION PROGRAM, local officials introduced Orphan Voice to these two families yesterday.   We are still gathering information, but know basic facts now.  The first child, Binh, went for a vaccination two years ago, but there was a terrible reaction.  This precious child was left paralyzed in most of her body and has multiple seizures daily.   Orphan Voice will pray for God’s intervention, deliver supplemental food to the family each month and look into ways to better control her seizures.

The second child, Oanh, is one year old and  has serious problems with two of the valves in her heart.  Orphan Voice can obtain a needed corrective surgery locally.  Please consider making a donation to Orphan Voice to help cover the cost of her medical needs.

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Human Trafficking

Research indicates that a new pornographic video is produced in the United States every 39 seconds. In the same vein, the worst of men sell 10-14 year old girls for 4,000.00-5,000.00 per encounter–and except for God’s redeeming ability, thus destroy a life. Senators Orrin Hatch, a republican, and Mike McIwntyre, a democrat, have co-sponsored a letter requesting Attorney General Eric Holder to redouble efforts to prosecute pornography purveyors. This is something we all agree on. Will you contact your senator and ask for his support of the Hatch-McIntyre effort?

In Vietnam, Orphan Voice operate Victory House, in part to protect young, vulnerable girls who have aged out of orphanages from falling prey to such men as are described above. Although a small start, five girls are housed, fed, and taken care of medically while they attend Orphan Voice-provided college or vocational education classes. In this way, they will have a good start in life. Thank you for supporting such efforts.

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