In Mid-February, I traveled to Vietnam to see an orphanage that OrFA will potentially support in Hanoi. Although before my trip I was warned by our local volunteer, H., that during the Tet holiday the kids may not be around, I decided to make the journey anyway as I felt it was important to see the orphanages firsthand.

H. and I drove from Hanoi to Ha Dong, a large suburb about half an hour away from where the orphanage is located. Orphelinat De La Villa De HaDong or Hadong City Orphanage was built in 1997 by Association Europe France Asia (AEFA).

Unfortunately, as warned, none of the 60 kids housed at the orphanage were there. Once a year during the Tet holiday, the kids are sent to visit their distant relatives (usually an uncle, aunt or grandparents).

We met with Ha, the lone caretaker for the facilities as others had left for the Tet. The Director, Ms. Ninh, sent her regards and asked Ha to show us the facilities in her place. I was quite impressed with the whole place as I did not expect such a large and well run orphanage.

The orphanage consists of a three story building, with 8 rooms acting as living quarters on the second and third floors. The first floor served as the class rooms, multi-purpose room, administrative offices and kitchen. The grounds were clean, well kept and spacious.

The rooms were separated into boys and girls quarters with about 6 to 8 children to a room. According to the caretaker, the kids range in age from mid-teens down to as young as 4 years old. Each room has a mix of older and younger kids, with the older ones looking after the younger ones. This creates a closer environment and family like atmosphere for everyone.

I was impressed to see an organic vegetable garden. The students take turns tending to the garden, which I thought was a clever way of teaching the kids responsibilities and self-sufficiency. The fresh vegetables and meats are cooked daily according to a schedule with everyone chipping in.

They were in the early stages of exploring the possibility of making food products and selling them in the market instead of relying purely on donations. This would be an ideal show of social entrepreneurship and skill training for the kids.

Next time, I hope to visit when kids are all there. I became quite impressed with Orphelinat De La Ville De Hadong.

I would like to thank the local OrFA volunteers in Vietnam for dedicating their time to a cause we all believe in in order to create a brighter future for the next generation.