2018 - April – April 24th, 2018

img_17231Click here for a link to April Blog Photos

By the time you receive this we will have less than 6 months left on our three year term.  As we look forward we sometimes wonder what will continue once we leave – no staff are at the level they could carry on what is started on their own.  And so we are looking at providing some distance supervision once back in the US for a few months until a replacement can be found.

That said we have much to be grateful for.  We just completed the programs for the past budget year.  One of the activities was selecting for each child some toys, seats, tables, blackboards, etc. that they could have in their homes so the family and siblings could continue the therapeutic activities with the child, even when the therapist is not there.  For children who have no toys and whom families thought could not do anything, it is so rewarding to hear the squeals of laughter and smiles as they learn to do these fun new activities that will help them develop.

This year we had 13 new families in Duc Pho start home therapy. Each was different and challenging.  We were disappointed the next district north, Mo Duc, decided they could not arrange permissions for weekend visits and we needed to stop the program we had started there.

The end of March Paul was able to observe the selection and loading of 69 cows to be distributed to families in Duc Pho and Mo Duc. The families will pass on a female calf and then the cow will be theirs.

We enjoyed having some visitors in January and March.  The Treadway family who brought us to Duc Pho and helped us in our first few days here in January 2016, returned for a visit and also said farewell to Vietnam after almost 5 years here as MCC’s country reps.  Phuong Hang and her sister, Minh visited us for a day from Hoi An where they were visiting their extended family.  Hang was in the first MCC International exchange program in 1974 and ended being stuck in the US post the change in government, married another exchange student from Germany and has lived and worked and retired in the US.  It was so good to see her and introduce her to our lives here.  Denise, an OT Esther has worked with in the past visited.  She was able to observe sessions at the center and in homes, as well as spend some vacation time with us in Hoi An and Hue.  It was great for Esther to have another OT to share questions and ideas with.

In January, Earl and Pat Martin visited.  They used to work with MCC in Quang Ngai during the war and were married here 50 years ago. It was fun going along as they looked for the houses they used to live in and places they used to go to relax right around the city. We also accompanied them on visits to family homes of a woman who used to help them when their children were small.  As tourists, it seemed easier to visit homes than we often experience.  We miss having the ability to make friends with whom we can drop in and visit with in their homes without having a special reason and notification.

MCC led a “Legacies of the American War and Peacebuilding for the Future” Learning Tour of Vietnam for 7 North Americans in January. (See the multi-page digital power point like report: https://sway.com/2k5MQ4MIETWnTDxW).  They visited the center and homes of families. They heard stories about Agent Orange and how it still is affecting families. We seldom get to visit families and ask them about the war or Agent Orange with a translator as our visits usually are focused on therapy for a young child (often from 3rd and 4th generation who are not aware of their own family history during the war). By accompanying the learning tour on some of the visits we too heard these stories.   The Learning Tour visited My Lai Memorial and Museum, where 500 unarmed persons were killed by American Soldiers in a group of villages 50 years ago.  The learning tour group then went to Laos to learn about unexploded ordnance and how that is still affecting families from the secret war there.

The TET holiday is a time when families gather together for several days.  This year we met our Daughter, Amy and her husband, David and 20 month old Forester in Taipei for a week together. What fun!

The beginning of April we made a short trip to Chang Mai, Thailand to renew our visa.  While there we were able to meet our current MCC area representatives, other MCC workers and the visiting MCC Executive Director for Canada with his wife who is an OT! We also were able to have dinner with the new MCC Vietnam Representatives who will be arriving in August.  It felt good to be able to see a bit of the broader MCC program in the region.

Thanks for your thoughts and connections.

Click here for a link to April Blog Photos

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