Day 3: Oral Hygiene

Today was my second day at the school for workshop. The first day I was at the school I was nervous, but today I was especially anxious because it was my day to present the workshop Tu-Anh and I had made on oral hygiene. Although I had to present the lesson without Tu-Anh, I felt that I was able to communicate with the children a lot better today than yesterday. It was really frustrating when I wasn't able to communicate everything I wanted to say to the children. So the night before I made sure to prepare myself by translating keywords to help me remember. Overall, I thought teaching the lesson went well. We focused on teaching the kids about cavities, how to brush teeth properly, and what foods were good or bad for teeth.

Today, there were two moments that made all the hard work and exhaustion all the more worthwhile. The first happened during the workshop. While the children were playing a game called Cat and Mouse, many of the little girls wanted to stand next to me in the circle to hold my hand. And the children would also crowd around Clark and Amanda during other games, wanting to be near them. It really touched me to know that the children looked up to us like we were their older brothers and sisters. The other moment happened after school was over and I was told that a little boy had come to the clinic so that he could have his teeth checked out. When I heard this story, I felt so proud that our lesson on oral hygiene had an impact on even one child. These were the moments that made me realize that, yes, I can make a difference in these children's lives.

-Pauline Ngo

Handwashing in a Nutshell

Handwashing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs and subsequent illness.  It's very basic, but many many people, especially children, don't properly wash their hands.  The short version:  water + soap + 20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing all over (I mean all over . . . between fingers, palms, back of hands, under nails, wrist) + rinse + dry with a towel (paper or otherwise). 

The hygiene workshop I was leading was initially going to be about personal hygiene in general and focused on handwashing, hairwashing, and general bodily cleanliness.  However time was limited and my Vietnamese is terrible, so we reached a consensus to just teach proper handwashing technique with a short discussion about general cleanliness afterward. 

At the start of our workshop, the children indicated that they knew how to wash their hands.  We had them demonstrate, and like every other child, handwashing consisted of sticking their hands in water and lightly rubbing them for about 2 to 3 seconds.  So we started at the beginning.  We brainstormed and elicited the children's thought on when they should wash their hands and came up with a list:  before and after eating, after going to the bathroom, after touching animals, after sneezing & coughing, and when there is visible dirt.  There may have been more, but it's three days later now and I'm blanking a bit.  After that we drilled them on the five main steps to handwashing and then had them practice.  We ended up not having access to running water and soap like I had hoped, so we practiced vigorously scrubbing  for 20 seconds using hand sanitizer.  As a wrap up to the lesson, we had a short brainstorm and discussion about other aspects of hygiene such as washing your face, washing your hair, feet, etc.  The students had a brief review of handwashing yesterday and they seemed to remember most of it, so I'm hopeful that this lesson will stick with them. 

Also, clinic is going well and I have a lot to say about it, but that's another post for another day.


Day 1 of Hai An: Workshops

We arrived at the clinic around 8am and were instantly surrounded by almost 200 kids. It was loud and things were pretty hectic while we tried to write down all of the kids' names. We ênded up running out of folders and little booklets to hand out to the children. We did not expect there to be more than 70 kids.

The rest of the day was just as chaotic as the morning. We had to split the kids into three groups and teach them separately. The kids left at 10:30, way earlier than we exepected, and didn't return until 2 in the afternoon. By then, we didn't really know what to do. Only a third of the kids returned, so we just decided to informally teach them basic English phrases like 'hello' and 'how are you?' and let them have free time for the rest of the time.

Overall, it was a pretty hectic day and very exhausting, but it was very nice to meet the kids.

~Lila Ly

Adventure in the mountains of Sapa, Vietnam

Our trip begin with the tour guy picking us up at the train station at 5:30/6am.  While zigzaging up the road to Sapa town, the sun rosé and we witness the most beautiful mountains there are in Vietnam.  Mountains with step by step of green rice paddy, gardens, trees, and waterfalls surounded by misty fog.  Everyone in he cả ứa put in awe by thí image.  We stopped to take pictures but sad our camera's quality í not good enough and can't capture the scene.  On the way, we also saw some Hmong people still wearing their Hmong outfits, and soe water bufaloes by the road.  

We started our Sapa homestay "easy" trekking by walking through the tơn's food market.  On our way to trekking, some Hmong girls and women notice that we are foreigners, and they started to follow us.  Then we went from gravel road into a narow dirt trial.  Everyone ứa so excited and ready to trek in the mountain ò Sapa.

---The Homestay esay trkking: 2days trekking/hiking, one night stay at one òf the local's home.

The "easy" trking was suppose to be easy right?  Well, we oficially start our spontaneous adventure of by going dơwn the steep trails in the mountains with very litttle complain to wanting to break a leg just for the heck ò having an excuse to not having to walk anymore.  While in the steep mountains, we went through cỏn fild where one person have to scream out "where are you?" to the person in front òf them just because the corn stalks are in their faces ant it's hard to sê.  We also have to walked on the narow edge of the rice paddy because that í the only way to ge across to the other side.  Some people slip their feet into the rice paddy getting their shoes all dirty and wet. 

The view of the mountain is still incredibly pretty.  We cross a bridge and stop by rivers to cool dơn and wash up.  When we reach the homestay, we eat a lot of their local food, and drink rice wine for hostility.

Crossing rivers, going up and going dơwn the mountain are not easy especailly with heavy backpack and hot weather.  we have people breaking corn stalks, rolling dơn hills, tripping, and ripping their pants, but at the end òf the trip, it was worth it. It felt like we have accomplished a marathon. 

--Pa houa Thao

I think it's time for another adventure


A snapshot in numbers: 12 hours from Chicago to Tokyo, Japan; 5 hours from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City; 2 hours from HCM to Hanoi; ~9 hours of waiting and finally the trip has begun!

This morning's adventure in Hanoi started with walks around the Hoan Kiem lake. Locals wake up super early. We thought we had an early start of the day at 7am, but when we arrived at the lake there were many people already up and about relaxing on the benches, doing morning stretches, and even...salsa dancing. Yup, Vietnamese music was blasting from a boombox and people young and old had gathered around to dance or watch the 'master' dancers. Aside from the hustle of the city streets with the constant honking, seems like this lake is the calm away from the storm. You can just relax on a bench, eat 10 cent ice cream bars, or take a run around the perimeter.

Streets of Hanoi vary with vendors for rip-off (but legit-looking) The North Face bookbags, clothing, resturants, purses, keepsakes, and other random bits and pieces. There really are no sidewalks, or none that you can actually walk on because it's where mopeds are parked or people are sitting. Expect to weed around mopeds and plastic chairs everywhere you go. Local businesses are likely to try to sell you items for over double it's actual value just because we know no better. You could bargain for almost anything but that's a skill that you either have or need to work on.

Traffic in Vietnam is a whole other culture that you have to get used to or else you are never going to be able to cross the street. Most people ride mopeds in Vietnam and taxis are usually always circulating city areas. You don't usually cross in front of cars and you certainly don't hesitate while walking or else you'll make the driver confused. Someone once told me you could cross the street while closing your eyes because the moped drivers would just go around you.

Street food is delicious. No matter what the hesitations are, it's cheap, quick, and delicious. We had wandered onto a street and was checking out one vendor when the business owner was consistent that we sit at the table and have lunch. It was worth it. For 30,000 dong (about less than $2) we ate bun cha, a beef/pork noodle dish that is similiar to bun thit nuong but included the broth. It was the first time that we've ever had this delicious variation of bun, and perhaps even the last since it's not a common dish served in Vietnamese resturants in America.

Tonight a group is heading to Sapa by train, while the 2nd group heads off to Ha Long Bay tomorrow morning.

Still fighting jet lag. Stay strong.  


- Linh Duong  

Oh, the places we go

Where do our travels in Vietnam take us this summer? Consult the handy blog post for a glimpse of the itinerary. 

June 13 - June 15th: Sapa or Ha Long Bay

ha long


Stay tuned for posts about Summer 2013 Project!!


This clinic in the village of Hai An was constructed in 2010 by the D.O.V.E. Fund.

It's a rare opportunity to be able to interact with communities different from what we have known. It's a unique situation that both parties are not quite familiar with but embrace nevertheless. Because how often are you given opportunities like this?