The day started early…with the assistance from Ten, Hai, and Hoi…our wonderful team from the Mai Chau Ecolodge. We loaded up all the goodies from our shopping trip in Hanoi and headed out into a foggy, misty morning. During the three hour drive we enjoyed getting to know each other and learning more about the land and the people within this mountainous area of Vietnam. We were so fortunate that all three of them spoke English and they were all instrumental in the success of our visit.
As we we got closer to the community…well as you can see above…it behooved us to walk those last five miles! Fortunately the headmaster of the school and a couple of teachers came to our rescue and we (along with all our loot!) finished the journey on their motor bikes. <gasp!> All I could do was to hold on with one hand and try to protect my camera with the other…just in case we ended up taking a mud bath…so unfortunately no captures of that segment of the trip…but I think you get the picture! And yes, it certainly made my heart pound…but these guys were excellent motor bike drivers and they took so much care with each one of us.
I can’t even put into words the feeling that came over me as we motored along that muddy road to the school… people came out of their homes….waving and greeting us with the biggest smiles…as I’m sure many knew of our visit to their community. Because it took longer than expected to arrive at the school…the children were just preparing to head home for their lunch break…so we had to work quickly to unload and distribute the supplies we brought.
Winter coats for twenty of the students in need, as well as gloves, socks and pencils for everyone! Because we had very little time with the children…I don’t feel I captured the moments the way I’d hoped…but you do with what you have, right? I do know we could have never pulled it off without the efforts of the team from the Mai Chau Ecolodge. Their organization and communications skills were just excellent.
Soon the children were on their way…back to their homes…with their gifts…and I’m sure to share stories with their families…as we were told we were the first Americans that had visited their school. <so special!> The headmaster and teachers were so sweet…and of course the girls were happy with their lip gloss too!
The headmaster and teachers had prepared a beautiful lunch and we all gathered…spending time drinking rice wine and enjoying their local dishes. I had the most adorable moment with one of the teachers that I must share. Napkins at the table were small pieces of paper that happened to be the comics from a newspaper. (We take so much for granted, don’t we?) About the time I went to use it…she motioned for me to wait a moment and off she went. Within seconds she returned with a “real” napkin. The most touching moment ever! Don’t you know she was probably keeping that napkin for something really special? I felt like a queen. I will treasure those two items forever.
Afterwards we shared all the school supplies that we’d brought…and of course every headmaster must have cap from my city…NYC!
The best gift ever?
The children learning their first words of English…priceless!
An adventurous life does not necessarily mean climbing mountains,
swimming with sharks, or jumping off cliffs.
It means risking yourself
by leaving a little piece of you
behind in all those you meet along the way.
I love that quote…leaving little pieces of you behind along the way…that’s exactly how I felt when leaving the headmaster, the teachers and those precious children…