I found Allambie through and internet search where it stood out as being especially warm and caring, in stark contrast to the stereotypical ‘Vietnamese Orphanage’. Knowing that I was to spend some time in Saigon teaching, I decided to volunteer my time here.
Suzanne agreed to meet up for coffee and told me about each of her children’s backgrounds. She soon assigned me as Truc’s piano teacher, and then took me to Allambie to introduce the family. The house itself has a fantastic open and atmosphere, and it was really humbling to find the children so inviting, they really made me feel at home.
They invited me for dinner and we chatted about their interests etc. It was great to hear that they had ambitions for the future, where as before Allambie they had no opportunities and so nothing to aim for.
During my two months in Saigon I regularly visited Allambie to teach Truc piano and to spend time with the rest of the family, especially Chuyen and Long – a mischievous little due who introduced me to their own versions of some old classic games, which were nothing like the originals, but hilarious!
Highlights include ‘Vietnamese cards’, ‘Vietnamese dominoes’ (catapult all the dominoes and try to catch as many as you can), ‘Vietnamese slaps’ (I still don’t know if there are any real rules to this one), and the ‘Make Phil Look Like a Girl’ game during which Chu and Long pinned down my hand for Suzanne to paint it beautiful neon colours!
Truc is a very bright girl who picked up piano quickly, it was great to see her progression even over such a short period of time.
I am thankful to Suzanne for allowing me the opportunity to volunteer here, the amount she’s achieved for these kids over the last 3 years is astonishing, and her relentless dedication to ensuring a solid future for each child is a real inspiration. Also a big thankyou to Mrs Bich, who provided some of the most delicious meals I had tasted in Vietnam!
I wish you all the best of luck, and hope Allambie continues to grow and develop.
I’m sure we’ll meet again in the future!
Best wishes, Phil