Vietnam Workcamp Update III

We back in Australia after an amazing twenty-one days spent living with and helping the locals in K’Long and Ho Chi Minh City. In the trip we have had a whole range of unique and unforgettable experiences. We leave with the hope that we have genuinely touched the lives of the locals, and with the certainly that our hearts have been touched by the unlimited generosity, selflessness and friendship that they have shown us.

The final week of our trip began with a day spend exploring the city of Dalat and its nearby attractions. This included the ‘Crazyhouse’, the local markets and a touristic type nature park. The day will be remembered by the incredibly cheap price of clothes, punctuated by the AU$1.50 berets embroidered with “Nairana Workcamp – Vietnam 2012’, and the countless local friends we meet along the way.

On Monday it was back to work. That day we put the finishing touches on the house we had been building including painting the walls with the most watered down paint I have ever seen. It took 5 or 6 coats for adequate coverage.

The next day we began to work on building at another site, a similar distance from our house of residence. Our project here was to build a toilet, shower and another room to an already existing small dwelling. We also replaced the roof of the pre-existing building. Despite not completely finishing this second house we were pleased with the significant headway that had been made into the project by the time we left to head back to Saigon.

One of the most enjoyable aspects to this last week was on our last full day in K’Long. The young couple which we building the first house for invited all their immediate relatives over, and Fr Joseph (the local Vietnamese priest) and Fr Felix blessed their house and we celebrated with a jovial lunch put on by the locals. The joy and gratitude of the community for our work was clearly evident and the effort and expense with which they thanked us went well beyond their means. That experience will be hard to forget.

We then headed back to Saigon for 2 more nights. On Sunday we visited the Mekong delta and learnt about its significance and history thanks to our knowledgeable guide, Qwuang. On Monday before we flew out in the evening we went to Dam Sen Water Park, a theme park similar to Wet-and-Wild, only probably a little less concerned about the OH&S of its staff and guests.

It has truly been a memorable trip. We have been able to impact positively on the lives of the others in a very practical way and have, at the same time, learnt some valuable life lessons ourselves. Below are some short testimonies, experiences and stories from some of the workcamp participants.

Joe Daaboul:

This trip has exceeded all my expectations in every aspect! I have grown as a person and have learnt some very valuable and important lessons whilst on this trip! The one thing that stood out above the rest was seeing how happy and cheerful people are with what little they have! I think that’s an essential motto in life! Be grateful with what you have and don’t complain. I can guarantee you that there are people much worse off than you are. I strongly recommend that people should participate in projects like this in future years because there is a lot to be gained. Finally, I would like to thank Tim, Seb and Fr Felix for making this an unforgettable experience and one I will remember for a long time.

Rob Assaf:

The generosity, hospitality and faith of the Vietnamese people has astonished me over these past three weeks. They are extremely happy even though they have nothing. This is just another example, proving that you do not need things to be happy. And I still cannot get over the generosity of our hosts in both Saigon and K’long. When I first arrived I was expecting to be staying in basic conditions….. I was most certainly proven wrong with uninterrupted wifi connection and you can’t forget the tasty and wholesome food. These three weeks has really impacted my whole perspective on why life is worth living. The memories of the boys and the people of Vietnam will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Michael Buhagiar:

The work camp has been absolutely phenomenal. Working at the orphanage in Saigon was an amazing experience for all the young men participating. To get to Phu My Orphanage in the mornings and help the nurses feed the disabled children was something that we will all never forget.  The smile on the children’s faces and the way they looked at us while we played with them and tried to make them feel a bit happier was the most satisfying and fulfilling feeling that I have ever felt. The children embraced you and looked forward to the company we spent with them. All the guys loved giving of their time to care for these remarkable people. Building houses in K’Long was equally as inspiring. The spirit of service within the group was evident in everything we did. The intention of the work, to build homes for disadvantaged and less fortunate people, was a driving factor that spurred us all on to work to our best ability and contribute as best we could to the efforts of the group. The guys participating became tighter and far more-close knit during the two weeks spent in the mountainous countryside. The work we were doing enabled us all to become more dependent on each other to work in an effective unit and so this resulted in the further unification of our group. We are all close and the deep sense of affinity and camaraderie is evident amongst us all, it is excellent! Overall, on a personal note, the work camp has awakened in me a far deeper sense of appreciation for the simple things that we all take for granted back home in Australia, like our homes, our families and the people around us, our education and quality of life. We really are so blessed. People here in Vietnam go without so many things and still get by through constant hard work and by looking after the things in life that truly matter, especially their faith. My time here has been an enriching experience that has increased my faith even more, and has definitely changed my perception on what is really important in life. The experiences I will take away from this trip will stay with me for the rest of my life.