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Let me begin with our family. We are from a large family of six children. My youngest sister is 11 years old and adopted from Vietnam. We have traveled to Vietnam to see her country and even did some fun things with her orphanage there several years ago.
But this summer my two brothers and I decided we wanted to go back and help the children who have not had the life my sister has had. So, this summer we went to Vietnam to do some volunteer work. I am eighteen years old and my brothers are twenty and sixteen years old. It was absolutely amazing. I volunteered in an orphanage with about 220 children. I worked mostly with the twenty-five babies and the younger children.
I loved working in the baby rooms of the orphanage. At first it was really hard to see so many babies without a home. I just felt so useless, but by before long I loved on the babies like they were my own. I became especially attached to one of the babies. Her name was Thu. She was three months old. Everyday as I could hardly wait to get to the orphanage to take care of and hold Thu. Sometimes I felt like she was my own baby. I loved spending my summer loving on these babies. The babies at the orphanage are not held very much because there are so many babies and the workers do not have time to hold the babies very much. The highlight of my morning was when I first entered the baby room and picked up that first baby. I missed the babies at night when I would have to go back to my hotel to sleep.
The younger children were adorable. They all just wanted our attention and love. As far as we know, we might have been the first volunteers at that orphanage. The children weren't too sure what to think about us at first, but after about a day they couldn't get enough of us. I became extremely attached to a nine-year-old girl name Nhi. The first day I met her she seemed very scared, sad, and didn't play with the other children. I have never seen such a transformation in someone's life. By the end of my time there she was laughing, smiling, and even interacting with the other children. It was amazing. In some small way I feel that the little bit of love and attention I gave her made a difference in her life. She cried when I left. I cried too.
During my time at the orphanage I fed babies, held babies, played with babies, folded diapers, played games and loved every minute of the time I was there. All the children were so sad when we left but I do not think they were as sad I was. This experience changed my life! It was hard to give my heart away to these children but it also makes you feel so good when you know you are giving back to this world. The pain of saying good-bye is worth the reward of getting to love these children. It was a summer that I definitely didn't waste!
Joy and Dawn,
Thank you for all your work that allowed us to spend time in Vietnam this summer. I know it was a lot of work for you all to do for us to come. I really loved being there. When I look at my photographs it makes me miss the children. Thank you for taking such good care of us. We really loved the spaghetti dinner! Thank you for everything.
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Vietnam Photo Journal
by Don Funk