WOW. possibly my favourite evening of the entire last 5 weeks. Kon Tum is a big city and we are staying right on the edge of it.
It is amazing. Very very rual very quickly. Cows cross the roads, water buffalo lie in the paddy fields. Rubber tree plantations line the roads. the smell of coffee flowers and wood smoke clings to everything. Children play in the red dust. Field workers carry whicker baskets on their back heavy with corn.
We had a safe and easy bus journey and met a lovely French lady in her 60’s called Bridget who told us some amazing tales of her travels, she even lived in a kibuzt in Israel while the Vietnam war was happening and met may people fleaing from service in America there.
After sharing lunch with her we waited for Teresa, a 30yr old lady who was herself an orphan here and who has 4 beautiful children and a charming husband, who works for the Vin Son orphanages. Her dedication is incredible. Her youngest son is even called VinSon. After a coffee and chat with her we were invited to her house and to Vin Son 5 (there are 6 orphanages in total). The taxi took us to another world.
No ordinary backerpackers are lucky enough to visit here,and I felt a huge weighted priveldge to be there. Teresa and her family are obviously not rich, they live in a small house with 3 rooms - a bedroom, living room, and kitchen, the bathroom is in the yard. Greeting us were her 3 smiling daughters and one naked little son.
We walked next to the orphanage and were immediately encircled by children. At vin Son 5 the ages are from 2yrs to about 14yrs, 100 children live here. the government provides no funding at all. they desperately need to buy concrete for the rainy season to stop the children getting scurvy because it is impossible to get food to here when the rains come...
the children sang many songs to us,alll holding hand in a circle and then they wanted us to sing too - we taught them okeykokey , twinkletwinkle, 3 blind mice, run rabbit, down in the meadow, wheels on the bus, jingle bells, baba black sheet, old McDonald, head shoulders knees and toes, incy wincy spider,i’m a little engine, and then we ran out! what other songs are there?!
they sang ‘we are the children of kon tum’ it was very emotional. all their beautiful faces.
it wasn’t long before they all wanted to hold our hands and climb into our laps. when we left we were swamed by long hugs. some of the children even cried.
but they seem well looked after by the women there and obviously have good friends and are learning well in their classroom. the orphanages just need some money.... and more teachers. I think we will stay for probably a week, but already these children will stay in my heart forever. and Teresa and her family too.
walking back through the darkness past sleeping tethered cattle with two children holding my hands. I could not have felt more honoured to be in this country.