Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our CEF beach outing for the Quang Nam children in our sponsorship program

These are photos from our CEF beach outing for the children in our Quang Nam education sponsorship program. We all had a wonderful day; children, staff and helpers!

We started with a group photo early in the day, when we had all the children and some of the volunteers. Then we divided them into two groups; each had a water safety talk, and were given a sheet on water safety. Then they went into the water. The teachers from SWIM VIETNAM were wonderful and slowly got the children used to the water, with getting them to submerge themselves briefly, then submerge themselves for longer, and also got them blowing bubbles in the water. They learnt to float and some learnt to swim.

Three quarters of the children didn't want to go in the water, to the degree they didn't even bring a change of clothes with them. We had all of them in the water, except one girl who would only go in up to her waist. She did have fun playing in the shallow water though. It was understandable as her parents had drowned when she was about ten leaving her responsible for a younger brother and sister. We even had three nuns in the water, two of them fully dressed in their nun clothing!

After the water safety and swimming lessons it was lunch time and we had a lovely meal cooked by Duyen and her staff at Karma Waters.

After lunch our plans went astray! They all wanted to get back in the water! We surrendered as we were outnumbered by far! There was a good reason for the surrender too as several of the children have had water traumas in their lives. One girl had lost her little brother from drowning and two sets of parents had drowned. Also these children don't live near the seaside so this was the first time for most of them to go in the ocean. Considering that about 75% of them didn't want to go in at the start of the day and didn't come with a change of clothes; we were all actually thrilled by this request.

After more submerging, floating and swimming and playing in the water again we did get around to playing some games. We flew kites and we played tug of war. In Vietnam they don't use a rope, they just hold onto people. So the trick is to have the strongest people at the front of each side. It was new for me and fun! We then played a game where we had teams and each team had to fill a large bottle with sea water. The bottle is about 5 metres up the beach. This was hilarious! Several girls realized very quickly that by the time they got to the bottle, most of the water had drained through their fingers. Others realized that it was hard to get it into the narrow-necked bottles. So within about 2 minutes people had found plastic bags and cups, and mouths were filled with sea water. Every one fell about in hysterics.... no one bothered to complete as everyone was cheating!

Then we played football. Our sweet, quiet, polite and gentle girls were wild and vicious including one of the nuns! They too fell about in laughter after a while as it was quite out of hand!

Others played in the sand building sand castles and although we were planning a competition, only the little ones wanted to play with the sand.. so the competition didn't happen.

We finished with sour fruit with salt and rice crackers with chili sauce which are both popular Vietnamese snacks.

It was a great day for all and one of those days I know I will never be able to forget! It was just so wonderful to see so many children who have hard lives,smiling and laughing and having so much fun! It wouldn't have been possible without my amazing CEF staff and my caring, energetic volunteers; both Vietnamese and ex-pat! We were well nourished by Karma waters and it was also a water-safe day due to the life guards, and the swimming teachers of SWIM VIETNAM! Thank you one and all for such an incredible day and for making so many children happy!

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