One of the reasons for returning on this trip to SE Asia was to take supplies and clothes (for the second time) to a school in need up in the northern mountains of Vietnam. The added bonus? Staying at the Mai Chau Ecolodge again! It’s situated in a beautiful valley filled with rice fields and surrounded by mountains and only about four hours from Hanoi. The school visit was a highlight of our trip last year and with the added bonus of the assistance from the Mai Chau Ecolodge staff (again for the second time)…well let’s just say it had all the ingredients to be another great success!
Even though we had brought along a lot of supplies and clothes due to our generous luggage allowance with United Airlines, we always enjoy shopping for the children in Hanoi too. A couple of the staff members from the Hanoi sales office for the Ecolodge accompanied us and we found lots of goodies at a local paper supply store. Boy, did this store have everything! (note for next visit!)
The following day we made our way to the Tan Dan school – the same school we visited last year – as well as an additional school. A major logistical change this year was including a boat ride via the Hoa Binh Lake to eliminate the long drive in the van up a very curvy mountain road. As we made our way to the boat docking area we passed some beautiful waterfalls and stopped in a local village. Yep, more shopping!
It was suggested that the children could always use shoes!
As we made our way to the boat landing area we arrived at a local village, parked the van and headed to the lake. I loved how this woman had positioned herself to watch the daily activity as we all strolled by her home. She was obviously quite the sweeper as her home was so clean and tidy.
Our lead, the general manager of the Mai Chau Ecolodge, had brought along a few of her staff to help us carry it all.
Our boat…number 11.
The “muscle” that helped us get all the supplies to the village…as well as some “comic relief” during our hour boat ride.
The time on the boat gave us an opportunity to sort though all of our supplies to make up individual packets to give to the students.
We also sorted through all the children’s clothes and of course everyone was interested in checking out the styles from America!
Even though we all love and understand the characters of Spiderman, Batman, etc… the children in this remote village? Not so much.
With my connection to a nonprofit in Virginia, I had been given t-shirts and baseball caps to give away on this journey. A big shout out to Apple Ridge Farm for providing these items. The guys loved them! You know it’s meant to be when you have just the right amount to give everyone on the boat something!
Next up…reaching shore and heading to the school!
***And to think it all started out last year with the simple question of “how can we give back in your community?” It was through the generosity of the General Manager of the Mai Chau Ecolodge that made all of this happen. We would’ve never been able to accomplish any of this without her, the sales staff and the employees of the Ecolodge!***
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