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Experience stories volunteers  Care4theKids


Volunteers Verona and Wim   (July 2014)

A short impression of our holiday-job in Vietnam!

With the two of us (Verona and Wim) we have been coaching and training the teachers of the project "The Center of Rehabilitation and Support for Handicapped Children".
The teachers are pedagogic al speaking amazing in their skills but are not certified. If you tell them that teachers need to study at least 4 years then they will not believe it. All teachers are anxious to learn and want to gain more theoretical knowledge about the children. Between 13:00 and 14:00 we held meetings in which we trained them in the development of these children, a thorough explanation of the used materials and tips for observation for example.


Every day we went at 8 o’clock to the group with a translator. Verona had 3 groups and Wim was appointed to another 3 groups. In every group we came 4 days. The children were busy from 8.00 until 10.00. First in a circle, later at tables or mostly at the ground. At 10 o’clock we had an evaluation with the teachers. This conversation took about 15 minutes and the teachers were very thankful for every tip we could give them.

In every group there are 2 or 3 teachers and each group has about 16 children.  From 14.00 until 15.00 the children were again kept busy with tasks. That were the same activities that was done in the morning, but then the teachers tried to use the tips we gave them earlier or we showed them how to do it in another way as we explained.

The teachers do now have the knowledge of learning guidelines, but what is more important is that the children now can make the next step in their development and which tools or instructions can be used to achieve that. Well at least that is in our estimation, but then again all these steps need to be repeated more often.

Fortunately in October two Dutch teachers will be there again, who will continue with the work we already have done. All materials, which has been paid for through the revenues of a sponsor run at the school of Wim, has been introduced to the teachers.
Paul, our Vietnamese translator, has taken care of all manuals belonging to the materials. He has translated them into Vietnamese.
As a sign of gratitude for the materials, which was brought together by the sponsor walk of children of the 2 nd Montessori school, a painting was given to us which will get a nice spot in the school.

We also brought a visit to the Cu Chi Project, another project of Care4theKids.
This school is run by a sisterhood and here the children go to school 5 mornings a week.  In the afternoon the children have to work until late in the evening to contribute to the income of the family. In short, also these children, often from Cambodia and therefor without a stay permit, are living in a situation that if this school did not exist they would not get any education.
The lessons here are given by certified teachers. Within the classes everything is very disciplined. At this project there is money to provide the children twice in the week a decent hot meal.
The intention is to extend it to 5 times a week, but when the sponsors are able to bring this to 4 times a week, the sisters can also take care of afternoon-activities for the children. That would be amazing because then the children can be educated in other things and not only get education in reading, writing and math.

For these children the construction of a play/soccer field is almost finished. The goals are already standing and the kids are asking when they are allowed to make use of it. The area is egalized and almost done, and next to the borders some strong plants are planted and probably also something to play on.  All together (a number of trees and hedges needed to be removed) there was a financial comedown of $ 1.000. We then pledged them that we would compensate this shortage with the money the children of the 2 nd Montessorischool has raised together.
From our children to these children! And believe us… it could not end up better at this project!

We have some money left from the sponsor run but in accordance with the board of Care4theKids we will look for a good destination within the projects in Vietnam to donate this.

We had an amazing number of impressions during our stay, we have met many kind and sweet Vietnamese people and we really got the feeling that we have contributed to the development of the projects and the disabled children in this city. And that was what it is all about!

Sweet greetings from Wim en Verona (Netherlands)
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Volunteer Henriette (14-03-2014)

On the road!

It was 21st February when I left to Vietnam with Floor. Inspired and infected with the enthusiasm of Floor I threw myself in this adventure. How exciting is it to see finally the Centre with the children and the teachers in real life after hearing all the stories and watching the photos.

The very first days at the Centre were filled with observing, undergoing and processing the impressions I experienced in the classes with the different children. This acclimatizing took a while. During a meeting in those first days various teachers asked which activities were appropriate  for the children in their group. This was a question which perfectly matched my work experiences. I have been working many years in a children’s day care center and as a mentor/companion in development stimulation of young children with limitations. This was ideal to refer to and this question has helped me to give direction to my tasks and activities at the Centre.

Schedule
It seemed important to me that the teachers had a ‘coatrack’ to use as a tool where they can ‘hang’ the activities (instead of coats) at which they want to do with the children.
That is why we introduced the concept words as ‘calendar age’ and ‘development age’ and how we define that.
After that we have ‘mapped’ the normal development of children in different areas. We also have ranged the motorial skills, social skills and the play of children in different age stages.
With this the teachers could get an insight in which development phase the children are.
But then it is still a big challenge to find matching activities to 3 groups of children. Especially when there are children who only respond or come to play when they are challenged individually, as this is an international fact.

Materials
As a beautiful addition to the activity schedule we could  show the toys we brought with us.
Henriette had collected a lot of wooden puzzles, development materials, blocks and games in Holland. During one of the meetings we have discussed them and gave explanations to it. With this information came up such as the level of difficulty of the material, the different ways to use the material and what skill can be practiced with it. The teachers were all enthusiastic about it and at the spot the games and puzzles were divided about the groups.
Also the bouncing balls with lights were a great success. When I walked around the groups same afternoon it looked like Santa Claus has been here. All the children enjoyed the new possibilities.

Progress
Two weeks is just a short time. Too short to get all the beautiful insights of the lively city and the colorful country. Also too short to set up big chances… nevertheless it is good to know that Ms. Thanh, director of the center, keeps on using the schedule with the teachers.
And further I was on the last Thursday of my stay witness of a very appropriate activity for all children where everyone could get his/her own pleasure at their own level. Lisa en Rachel, the 2 volunteers, celebrated with the children after a 4 weeks stay  their ‘goodbye’. And be honest; which child does not like to eat cake or Dutch stroopwafels, sing Dutch and Vietnamese songs, to sit on a lap and get attention, to dance and play with balloons?

Henriette Lemmen, Netherlands (March 2014)
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Volunteer Floor (10-08-2013)

A month in Ho Chi Minh.
What an adventure, it was absolutely a wonderful adventure. And I would go back immediately, really! I have enjoyed enormously of the hospitality of the Vietnamese people, but also from the enthusiasm and the curiosity of the teachers who want to learn and, not to forget, I enjoyed the children. I have all of them enclosed within my heart.

I have been part of "The Center of Rehabilitation and Support for Handicapped Children" for 4 weeks.
It became soon clear to me that on the area of class management (course planning and organisation) and pedagogic approach (behavior handling and operating concequently) we could make some big steps. So in consultation with Henriette I have set up a path to make the necessary steps.

Every day started with an observation in one of the 5 classes, which I then evaluated with the concerning teachers. In the afternoon there was a regular meeting of 1 hour with all teachers,
in which I sometimes gave a workshop or one of the teachers told something as a result of the observation. In the afternoon I performed another observation with an evaluation afterwards.

I have to say that it was surprising how willing and eager the teachers were to share their own points in development with the other teachers. It was beautiful to see how openminded the teachers were to learn and how eager they were to absorp all the information they get.

We all worked hard together and the work is still not done! My hands are itching if I think back at the project. But I left the project with a very good feeling in good hands. I am really curious about how the teachers experienced this 4 weeks.


It was a pleasure but also an honour to be part of this group of people for a month. Because next to the fact that I could teach them something I also have learned a lot from them. And from the children as well by the way.
I have learned how you can communicate with each other without knowing the language just by looking at each other. That I need to have patient and that it will end well anyway at the end. That ‘here and now’ is much more relevant than the past and the future. That you with interest and attention are able to learm much more than without and there are so many things more I have learned... I am grateful to them for all of that.

This amazing job I did in a fantastic and a very chaotic city: Ho Chi Minh City.
The motorcab’s, cars and busses, the noise, smog, sunglass-sellers, fruit-ladies, endless stream of people .... I became slowly bit by bit one of them. I felt like home in this city at a certain point. It was great to know my way in this maze of streets and to come home in my fine hotel. This all together made this month an unforgettable experience!
Goodbye Ho Chi Minh and goodbye teachers and children, I will come back!

Floor Oostendorp,  Netherlands (July 2013)
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Volunteer Jeanet (Augustus 2012)

This summer I went as the first volunteer for Care4theKids to Vietnam to work in a day care center for disabled children in Ho Chi Minh City. The reason why I was attracted to this project wash the clear question: “Help us with the set-up of proper education for disabled children”

With suitcases full with materials, toys and a lot of enthusiasm Henriette and I started in June! It felt immediately good as soon as we arrived. We were more than welcome and the teachers were highly motivated and handled the children with an enormous caring attitude.

We have together, with the local staff, set up the basic facilities for education; two classes for the children who are mentally disabled and one class for children who are behind in growth and development.

We achieved this, not only by telling how, but more over by showing practically what is possible: working together in a group. You see the children flourishing and teachers becoming more enthusiastic, taking over the working methods and initiating ideas themselves. After 4 works I really had the feeling that our objectives was reached and I went back home with a satisfied feeling.

But next to the voluntarily work it was also great to be in Vietnam. The people are really friendly and hospitable. They give you rather quick the feeling you belong with them.
And despite the fact Care4theKids does not exist that long Henriette has built up a nice and strong network in Vietnam and it is a pleasure to fall back on this when needed. For example; when you need more practical information, good living space or translating. Because due to the fact that English is not used or spoken that much, communication is not always that easy. However …. This can also lead to funny, nice surprises….

Ho Chi Minh City is a big city which attracts a lot of tourist. It is therefore also a lively city, where as well in the evenings as in the weekends you can do a lot. Especially when you like good food and love to enjoy the bars and their terraces.
I have walked a lot through the city (which the Vietnamese people think is odd) but this gave me really the feeling to be there;  in between the local people, the climate, the traffic!; all together it is really amazing!

In short: I really enjoyed my time and stay here

Jeannet  de Jong, Netherlands (July 2012)
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Volunteer Sandra (December 2012)


In the meantime I am back again in our so called “Froggy-country”. And I am not only referring to the weather but definitely also about the warmth of the people and the children I had to left behind at the project in Hoc Chi Minh. For three weeks I was part of the staff of “The Center of Rehabilitation and Support for Handicapped Children”.
It has been a great experience to get acquainted with the Vietnamese culture, to work with lovely children and also to learn about myself.
It is very exciting to step into a situation of which you cannot make any idea or imagination. But this excitement is rather vanishing quickly as soon as you meet all kind of friendly people, from hotel clerk to taxi driver.

The city center was much further developed than I thought and the staff is working so lovely and careful with the children that even we in the Netherlands can learn from it! Of course there are things that need to be improved, but fortunately the people are anxious to learn more. I also have learned about working with mentally handicapped children in another country. With another language and limited resources.
A really special experience in a really special country with really special people.

Sandra Suijkerbuijk, Netherlands (December 2012)
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