Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Co Nhi Vien Phu Hoa (Phu Hoa Orphanage)

On our second day in Quang Ngai, Cau Q brought us to an orphanage (Co Nhi Vien Phu Hoa). We were taken by surprise. It was after we visited the graves of various family members and we thought were just going to another grave. My cousin K back in California had sent money, so my uncle wanted to stop by and give it to the orphanage. The experience was not as I would expect, sad and depressing; rather, it was actually pretty fun, mainly because the kids were full of joy, despite their situation.

My aunt is holding a four month old, who was dropped off when she was just hours old by her father.

There were about a dozen kids, ranging from 4 months old to maybe 12 years old. Some of them knew a bit of English: "How are you? What your name?". Some of the little boys were instantly attracted to The Boyfriend and started to call them Father. That was a bit disconcerting because it was the only indication they were looking for parents. It seemed they were trying to stake out potential parents and some referred to us as "Mom and Dad" for the rest of our visit.

The sister (nun) who runs the orphanage taught them a few songs in English. So they sang We wish you a Merry Christmas and Auld Lang Syne, with synchronized dance moves. It was quite cute and funny, especially with their little accent. They also sang a lovely Vietnamese song.

Kids singing us a song.

This little guy was so cute and hyper. When my aunt asked about sugar cane planted in the field, he ran out and pulled one out for her (sugar cane plants are BIG for such a little guy).

While we were having tea, the kids were playful and wanted to get our attention. They were especially fascinated by The Boyfriend and his hairiness. They kept pulling his arm hairs and showing they could make a little ponytail. I thought that was hilarious. Then one of the little girl was pulling my skin and said in Vietnamese that there was no lean meat. I guess The Boyfriend had the last laugh.
As they grew less shy, they grabbed our sunglasses and tried them on. Then they were on the scooters with the helmets. Finally, they asked whether they could use the camera. However, unlike what I would imagine from "regular" kids, they did listen attentively to my instructions when I told them to be careful. And when I told them that it was someone else’s turn, they were very good at sharing.

The kids took hold of glasses and were posing for us.

The little guy on the right is so funny with my aunt’s PRADA glasses…

The kids taking turn with my camera and becoming photographers!

This is the little cart that is used to bring the kids to school every day.
Everyone who knows me knows I sometimes have silly romantic notions. My notion of orphans comes from Anne of Green Gables or Annie. This is not quite reality. These kids just lead normal lives; they eat and go to school. I’m not sure they fret on their fate, but they do seem to yearn for someone to love and care for them. They didn’t show outside sadness; they just seemed genuinely happy to have people play with them.

This orphanage is small and so doesn't draw as much attention as the big city’s orphanages. If anyone wants to help, it’s much easier to go to Saigon (that's probably where Angeline Jolie went). However, small town orphanages also need notice. My cousin bought a roasted pig for them for Tet. I’m very happy to find out that my family has unofficially "adopted" this orphanage and helps out whenever they can!

1 comment:

Ed Silva said...

found your website tonight and just wanted to let you know that we too, my wife and four other friends visited the orphanage. We have also unofficially adopted the orphanage. If you would like to share stories you can email me.....