Humanitært arbejde i Vietnam - Kirstine Dalgaard Nielsen
Make yourself needed!
I left Denmark the 13th of February 2012 - mentally prepared to experience a whole new world, but with out any expectations. Vietnam as a country is beautiful and ugly, quiet and noisy, colorless and colorful, is smells like roses and dirt – it is an amazing country and I would recommend everyone to go there.
The Vietnamese PA staff is friendly, and they just really want to help you and give you advice about everything. When I left Denmark, I knew that I was going to work with disabled children at a place called Hope Center, but I didn't know anything about working with children.
I am pretty good at adapting to new things, but I must admit that coming to Hope Center was a bit of a cultural shock. The Director at Hope Center is really sweet, and you really felt that she wanted her volunteers to have a good experience. She placed me and my fellow volunteer friend, Dana, in class A3 - a class with autistic children in the age of 2-5.
Hope Center is one of the better care projects in Hanoi. Compared to some of the other places with disabled children, this one has a lot of toys and a lot of staff members. Some might find Hope Center a waste of time (feeling useless) but it is just about showing the teachers that you want to help. I had a great experience working together with Dana and the teachers - but I had to put in a lot of effort to the work and also show the teachers that I was willing to do the dirty jobs with the children - like helping with the little guy who made a poop on the floor.
Sometimes I was frustrated because of the teachers; the cultural difference was a problem in many ways, especially because they have a totally different way of taking care of children. But it is important to remember that the cultural difference is why we want to volunteer - it is very often one of the main reasons for us to travel.
After some time I started to like the work and I am happy that I learned it the hard way. You will make mistakes, but it is through the mistakes you learn and grow. An open mind is one of the most important things if you want to volunteer, because the country and culture you are going to live in is nothing like the culture you are used to live in.
If you compare the two cultures too much, you will end up being more frustrated – so my best advice is to look at your experience as a blank piece of paper and let your experience write it. I had no expectations, so I was not disappointed. I did not save the world, but I learned so much about my self - and one lesson is for sure "You can always make yourself needed!!"
During my two month, I also visited Sapa, Haloong Bay and The perfume Pagoda. I also went to one of the teachers’ home village – that was an amazing experience; I was so honored to be the family’s guest.
Don’t think too much about you travel, just go with the flow, be curious about the culture, accept the cultural difference, and I am sure you will have an amazing experience. Go For It!!