Sydney (Australia) -- Helping in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The Phu My orphanage, also known as the Handicapped Orphans Protection Centre of Thi Nghe, is situated in the Bihn Thanh district of Ho Chi Minh City. The orphanage has been the home for thousands of incapacitated Vietnamese children since 1875. The 400 orphans at Phu My suffer from serious infirmities, including cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. Many of them have to remain in bed permanently and need constant care. The orphanage is run by the sisters of St. Paul of Chartres who admirably maintain an atmosphere of joy, dedication and affection among all the employees.

From January 10 to 31, fifteen volunteers from Nairana Study Centre in Sydney organized a work camp at the orphanage. The group, chiefly made up of older high school boys, decided to dedicated three weeks of their summer vacation to helping the staff at the orphanage.

One of their tasks consisted in repairing a large covered terrace on the third floor of the main building. Over the years the ceiling and walls had deteriorated to such an extent that the terrace had to be closed. The volunteers sandpapered and painted the walls and completely replaced the ceiling of the terrace.

They also helped the staff of the orphanage in their daily work. The children were very grateful when they were brought to the play area and garden in their wheel chairs. The volunteers also helped to feed the children who could not leave their beds. One of them summed up his experience in these words: “I fed a little boy with acute cerebral palsy. He couldn't speak, and almost couldn't move, but he could certainly smile. In that smile I discovered the joy of giving oneself to others and it brought me a happiness that I had never experienced up until that moment.”

Romana, n. 46, January-June 2008, p. 149-150.

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