“I am a Hai Van hero!”
I have known Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC) for a number of years and followed closely the work they have been doing. I decided to volunteer for them this year and have been doing so, here in Saigon, for about a month. It has become evident to me over that month just how much all the staff and volunteers care about both the children they are helping and the principles that SCC stand for. There is a great atmosphere in the office borne of people working in a collegiate fashion towards the same goal! It is crystal clear the children are the focus and they are always prevalent in both thought and conversation.
The childrens' stories are sometimes heartbreaking and always humbling, however they are equally uplifting and inspiring. Their sheer determination to better themselves and help their families, against all the odds, shines through. It is hard for us, as Westerners, to comprehend the day to day lives and struggles of these children, in many cases they take on more responsibilities than young adults in the Western world, caring for their siblings and extended families, whilst desperately trying to maintain their schoolwork.
Their strength of character and will motivated me to sign up for the third annual Charity Cycle Adventure event - a 200km sponsored bicycle ride from Hue to Hoi An - over the Hai Van Pass. There were some magical land and seascapes, temples, and paddy fields. Hoi An took my breath away, it is a magical ancient city full of incense and twinkling lanterns - a truly magical place - a much deserved reward on the final day after three tough but rewarding days on a bicycle! However, my strongest memory will be of the smiling, laughing village children who came out to greet us along the route. Great reminder of why we were there. It was a great opportunity to meet many people who have been supporting SCC for a number of years. There was a great camaraderie and sense of achievement amongst the cyclists, who were all highly motivated to be working for such a great cause. All in all a great way to see some 'off the beaten track' Vietnam, get fit and raise some money! I may even be tempted back next year! If you are thinking of signing up for this, my advice would be, buy some padded shorts and enjoy!
I am thoroughly enjoying my time at SCC. Do contact any of us anytime with any questions or thoughts or better still come in and see hello!