Written Jan 28, 2020
Published February 24, 2019
Written by Barry Desmond (2019 volunteer from Australia)
Myself (Barry) and Nucky travelled to Vietnam at the end of September to commence volunteering for C4C. We were briefed about the location where we would volunteer prior to traveling, and we understood that it was in a rural location. The host school (English centre) is in the centre of the bustling market village, Suoi Hai, situated roughly 50km from the centre of Hanoi. The classes took place in the evenings and the students that came ranged from 3 to 16. Nucky took the younger ones and I took the older ones! We also had teenagers from local schools to assist us in each class who were very helpful.
We initially were to be stationed in Hanoi, but this was changed to Ba Vi , and it quickly proved to be the best choice for us. The host family Phuong and Sen were exceptional hosts. Sen provided three meals a day for us, and nothing was too much bother for her. Phuong was a real character, full of warmth and joy. The accommodation was next to their house, which was good as we liked just chilling out and doing our own thing. We would get used to the daily ‘call’ for meals from Sen and we would come and eat with them and quite often eat with extended family members or relatives or neighbours. The school is next door to a bustling market which is full of lively characters and interesting produce! The lake is a focal point of the village and there are a few places to get a coconut, coffee or a beer whilst gazing out over this magical lake with BaVi mountain in the background.
We were lucky enough to agree on a timetable that meant we had weekends off. As part of the package we were issued with a bus pass so most weekends we went into Hanoi and immersed ourselves in the beautiful chaos of this wonderful city. We felt we had the best of two worlds here, tranquility rural living during the week and the hustle and bustle of the metropolis at the weekend. We love to walk, so we walked a circular route daily, and the joys of waving at the locals who came accustomed to seeing us each morning was enchanting.
We were both emotional leaving and saying goodbye was difficult as we got attached to everyone associated with the school, and indeed the village of Suoi Hai. We felt like we made a difference to the kids there. Some had only a few words of english when we started, but by the end of our time seemed a bit more confident in their ability.
If you are looking for a true authentic experience , don’t mind having some free time in rural Vietnam, don’t mind that the accommodation is basic, then this is for you. We feel this experience is suitable for a couple (we are, shall we say a bit older, we are not in our twenties or thirties!!). Moreover, two very good friends might be another option.