Sunday, October 27, 2013

Photos some CEF children took after a 10 minute lesson

A partner organization plans to help make some money for the CEF children who took these photos.

I was very impressed that with a simple camera and a 10 minute lesson the children were able to produce such great photos.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A typhoon in my neighbourhood

I have suffered very little from the typhoon, and the CEF office has suffered little too in comparison to most people and homes in Da Nang and Quang Nam.

I had no electricity for three days; it just came back about an hour ago. I have now heard that Da Nang had so much devastation that they still have no electricity. My phone is charging, but died 2 days ago. Having no way to contact people or for them to contact me is strange. Having 12 hours where I would have to walk through muddy waters up to my thighs to get anywhere with unknown contents in the water is an uncomfortable feeling. Luckily I didn't need to leave as we had a good supply of water, lamps and food.

I can take it all very lightly now, but on and off it was scary to hear the outside noises and trying to figure them out: tiles dropping on the ground, trees cracking and crashing, the thump of them hitting roofs and metal sheeting being blown off roofs and along the ground. Brief glimpses during lulls in the storm showed flooding and devastation.

I was lucky as the damage I experienced was minimal; only my garden was severely damaged and some plants destroyed, some edging tiles on the roof blown off, two fences blown down, the fish pond filled with plant debris, the verandah awning hinges destroyed and the awning slightly damaged from flapping and hitting the outside wall in the winds. The awning has temporarily been sort of repaired, the garden has taken 1 1/2 days to clear up and remove and replace the pond water. The fence man is busy with all the other blown down fences, and the roof tile man is impossible to contact and we will need to travel to Da Nang to get the tiles first anyway.

Most people in my neighborhood have been busy for the last two days trying to restore some order to their homes or have moved out totally and are now living with other family while earning the money to repair their homes.

One neighbor with a one month old house, lost all the tiles above one room and many roof edging tiles. They had to abandon that room. The second house on their land is small and old and lost most tiles and had to be totally abandoned. On the other side of me their matting and bamboo outdoor kitchen and living room were destroyed. Next door to them a betel nut tree cracked and fell through the roof of one of their homes. A huge tree just missed the main house by inches. One of their neighbors had their bamboo, matting and leaf home and kitchen totally destroyed.

One of my staff had their kitchen destroyed and the back wall of their home. Two of their neighbors totally lost their roofs. And so the damage goes on.... some people had the waters enter their homes and the mud left to deal with, but no other damage. I have learned that as the flood waters recede, the mud is brushed away with the waters. Most of us who live in Da Nang or Quang Nam have had some damage to deal with.

Besides what has been going on for me and my immediate neighbors I had no idea for two days what so ever of the consequences of the storm further away until I wandered afield yesterday afternoon.

I ventured around my community and local area and discovered the road to the beach was partly blocked with fallen tress, the beach road is partly washed away, the sand was blown over the road, the resorts along the beach front nearest to me are damaged too. Many homes have damaged roofs. The road side was covered in plant debris waiting to be picked up. The mud was thick on some of the road leading to the beach.

Above I just wrote; the following I wrote during the storm before my computer died.

I only have a little energy left in me and in the battery of my computer and have no internet now, so I am taking a rest from moping up water to write about being in a typhoon and what it is like. Basically it is tiring and very unknown.

The CEF office, also my home, has very little damage externally, but it has bathtubs of rain inside that obviously need moping up.

With the last lull in the typhoon we ate breakfast, a few hours later than usual as it was not a good time to eat due to the state of the typhoon. While we ate Lien explained how it would be back in full force shortly as was its way. She explained how many people forget this each year and rush off to work or go off on their motorbikes to see a friend or family and die in the process due to the sudden and harsh return of the vicious winds.

Now with the second lull in the winds and the rain, my friend Lien, is outside in motorbike helmet and waterproofs cutting down the banana tree branches that were broken by the winds, the bamboo that fell, trying to fix the fences that were blown down and collecting all the broken branches that have landed in the garden. She has temporarily fixed the awning that had its metal fastening broken with the force of the winds. I suspect our stainless steel fastenings had rusted, as is the way with stainless steel here.

The four hours of moping up water has been a synch in comparison to all the things she is doing. Now I am reminded why I have so many buckets and plastic tubs, and why I keep so many old towels. They have all come in very useful once more. I am saturated as if I had been caught out in a tropical storm, but I haven't been outdoors.

The invasion of waters to the house started very rapidly and by the time the two of us covered furniture with the large plastic sheets and moved office papers off the desk it was already too late... many papers were wet and furniture wet. In a few days there will be sunshine to dry things out. Everyone will have mats and furniture outdoors in the sun drying it all out. I will hang papers up to dry.

There is so much water inside and I am saturated and have been for hours. When the winds twirl around at various stages they blow from every direction and as they are mainly horizontal and have great force of many km per hour, the winds blow the rain in through the two layers of each house orifice; through the double layer of windows and shutters and through the doors and door shutters. The tiling roof is perfectly fine most of the time, but in a storm the tiles have the potential to let the winds blow the rain through any crevices between them.

Enough of my personal typhoon story and back to moping up the water before it spreads too far or seeps through the floor board joints down into the CEF office.

So after more moping up just to say the storm has been raging for some hours. I am lucky as I live in a solid home, but many of the families we help have structures of bamboo, matting, wooden panels, dirt floors, tin roofs and some have unfinished cement and brick rooms that they could not afford to complete.

I know for sure some of their homes won’t be standing right now as two of my neighbors have outdoor kitchens made of bamboo and matting and they have been blown down. One also is a carpenter and has a bamboo and wood work shed that has blown down.

I have to admit I feel tired from the physical work of dealing with this for some hours and Lien looks exhausted, but we are still in a house with walls and a roof, many of the families will not be.

When the typhoon stops and we have electricity and a phone service we will be able to contact them all and find out how they are and dearly hope they have all survived at least although many homes won't have for sure.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Excellent results, terrible conditions

This child lives in a hallway with her grandmother and aunt as her parents have died.

Granny is elderly and doesn't work. Auntie has chronic chest infections and emphysema and works erratically. Sometimes she collects garbage and sometimes she moves things around the market for market stalls; what ever she does she doesn't earn much.

Even though she lives in a hallway and her situation is bleak from most peoples perspective, she is a happy child who loves school, works hard and has achieved consistently good results for the three years we have known her.

Thanks to her sponsor she has been supported so she can go to school, has had extra help with things such as the warm bedding for the cool windy winters in the hallway.

Also a local English language school has found a sponsor for her to receive free English tuition and they have helped her for the last two years.

Here are some of her results from last term:

Mathematics: 10.0
Vietnamese: 9.0
Science: 10.0
Computing: 8.0
English: 10.0
Geography: 10.0
History: 10.0

We are very proud of this little girls achievements considering her situation and are thrilled she has had this wonderful support.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dai Loc home visits in the mountains - By Ngoc

We have had a lot of home visits trips to do to many areas where our CEF children live. However, the trip to Dai Loc gave me the strongest experience of all.

We started so early because we had a lot of children to visit and also the distance from Hoi An to Dai Loc and the distance between each child’s house is rather far. Three guests from Global Platinum, a company in Ho Chi Minh City that sponsors some CEF Hoi An and Dien Ban children paid a two day visit to Hoi An and were interested in joining us on our trip. Unfortunately, the weather did not treat us nicely; it was so wet and rainy a lot on that day so it made the trip challenging and less exciting. On the way to the mountainous area of Dai Loc, we got lost and then we got flat tire in the rain. Poor us and also the driver!

We just faced the obstacles at the beginning and then everything was all right. I was shocked by the standard of the structures of Dai Loc families. Most of the houses we visited were so unstable and could easily fall down if there is any typhoon or cyclone.

We had a chance to visit a child who lives with her maternal granddad and disabled aunt in a wood plank and matting hut in the flood zone. Her father died when she was one year old and her mother re-married and moved to Binh Duong, in the South of Viet Nam seven years ago. She has not come back to visit her family yet.

The granddad told me that in the rainy season they always have to be ready to move next door because they do not know what would happen if a storm or flood came. He is over 70 years old and he is also the breadwinner of his family so he is under a lot of financial pressure. He is a traditional old man so his ideas and concepts are rather outdated. He told me that he felt powerless because he could not have a stable shelter for his daughter and grandchild to live. When the weather becomes bad, he has to move everything and also sends his disabled daughter and his grandchild to the neighbor’s house. Seeing them walking under the rain and carrying many other household items he wishes he had a stable house to live in but he knows that it is impossible.

I felt sympathy for him because according to his point of view, as the pillar of this household he cannot protect his family. Nevertheless, he tries his best to afford to send his grandchild to school and tries to work sometimes to make a living even though he is old and not well now. I admire his attitude.

This is just one typical case in Dai Loc and the other families live in similar circumstances. However, they always try their best to overcome these obstacles and believe in a bright future. They do believe that with education, their children will have more opportunities to be successful and to have a better life as well as be much less likely to have one of poverty. I like the way they live with an optimistic attitude.