My first impression when I sat down to have tea with Suzanne was ‘Okay, she is definitely a real Mum’!

The way she was looking at me and assessing whether I was trustworthy of entering her home is clearly what a Mum does, not everyone can come near her kids. Straight away I wanted to learn more about Allambie and be part, in a way, of something which I can now say is truly real and special. Their house is the house of a family and as such it is inhabited by one.

The way I found out about Allambie was actually not through the internet as you would expect but instead through a friend of a friend of a friend who knew about Suzanne setting up Allambie! I feel lucky for having had that first friend make the call. When I was first introduced to the children I was quite nervous as to whether I would pass Suzanne’s test and interact well enough with the kids to be let inside their home, and even though most of them were quite shy in the beginning it went swimmingly!

Six smiling and very receptive kids, each with very distinct personality features. From little honey-hearted Chuyen up tol the wiser and older Thiet, every single one of the children has a beauty of her/his own. The older ones take care of the younger ones but no one is robbed of their childhood for being one of the eldest.  I think this is very important as in other homes, I found that the older children had to take up too many responsibilities to take care of the younger ones, which made their attitude more grown up than it should be for their age.

When it comes to saying that the experience I had was the one I was looking for I can’t really say it as I came to Allambie not knowing what I was looking for exactly. All I wanted was to collect one more beautiful experience in another part of the world. I have always been interested in volunteering and taking part in activities that make me feel like I’m contributing to the development of this world and giving back to the community.  And so, if I agree that this is what I am/was looking for, then I definitely found it in Allambie together with a little friendship that makes me feel welcome to back at anytime.

Whether I was tutoring English, taking Chuyen and Mung to the park or taking Nhi, Thiet and Sa to watch Johnny English, all the time I spent with Suzanne’s kids was memorable and I will definitely pop by Vietnam to visit their family, if ever I’m back in South East Asia.

Rafaela Cardao