Center for the Nourishment and Protection
of Children in Tam Binh

      Larry Ward had the idea to bring some things for kids. He and Willy pulled together an impressive assortment of school supplies and medicines. At first we tried to give them to a very poor elementary school in Tay Ninh province but they wouldn't take our gifts. Turns out that they are forbidden from doing so without the written approval of the village, district and province chiefs. That's how we ended up at Song Be at the Center for the Nourishment and Protection of Children in Tam Binh village.

      There we were welcomed with open arms by Sister Huynh Thi Kim Hai the director of the center. After a gracious cup of tea she showed us the facility and suggested we hand out the gifts ourselves to the children. It was great. Even though we interrupted nap time the kids went nuts over the kites, etch a sketch, yo-yos and other toys Larry and Willy had brought.

      It turns out that the center has 236 orphans in its care - 100 of them are newborn to 2 year olds. Two of the kids are HIV positive and are kept segregated from the rest. As I mentioned it was a very impressive facility and it was very encouraging to see that in a very poor country with impenetrable bureaucracy there are some people who are finding a way to make a difference. We plan on posting more about the orphanage and the work of Sister Huynh Thi Kim Hai once we've returned. I think I speak for all of us in the group when I say our trip to the orphanage was a very gratifying experience.

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