Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Journey to Đông Hà!

Sunrise in Đông Hà, Quảng Trị (shot taken through the train's window)

Wednesday evening, we boarded an overnight train in Hanoi, and 12 hours later we were 580 kilometers away in Đông Hà, in the Quang Tri province. For most of us it was our first time on an overnight train. We all slept in four person rooms in a sleeper car, with two sets of bunk beds in each room. The night was spent chatting, hanging out and getting to know each other better.

At 7:00 am the next day we were greeted with the intense heat and bright sunshine of Đông Hà! We spent the rest of the day Thursday learning more about the NGO we were going to be working with over the next four or so days, the Global Community Service Foundation (GCSF), and we visited Tâm Cafe, a coffee place for where the staff who work are hearing impaired people. We checked the menu and learned from the pictures posted on the wall how to order our drink and food in sign language.
In the afternoon, we visited one NGO called Project RENEW (Restoring the Environment and Neutralizing the Effects of War).

Project RENEW works to help people affected by UXOs (unexploded ordinates) and ERWs (explosive remnants of war) in the Quang Tri province. The organization is currently active in three of the districts in the province and is hoping to expand to a fourth in the near future. The Quang Tri province was the most bombed area during the Vietnam War, and contains the majority of UXOs still remaining, causing many problems for those who work in agriculture, look for scrap metal, and herd livestock. One way Project RENEW helps victims is with initiatives like the Mushrooms with a Mission project, where the organization provides families affected by UXOs or ERWs with the means to cultivate, gather, and sell mushrooms to help support them financially.

Over the past two days, we have been working with GCSF on another project, involving landscaping for a future school for the blind. The location is inside a complex that used to be operated by Kids First Village.
It's been a lot of hot, hard work, but we're all getting through it together and growing as a group.

From Busy working time at Quảng Trị Center, Đông Hà.

From Busy working time at Quảng Trị Center, Đông Hà.

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