I have just come back from an incredible week at the Allambie orphanage. I didn’t really know what to expect when I left, and when we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and Suzanne told us all of the kids stories, I was even less sure of what to expect at the orphanage, but I can honestly say that I would not change my experience for the world. When I first met everyone at Allambie, they were so welcoming and there was a real family environment. Chu Chu and Titeo played Monopoly with us and then at dinner, everyone was so friendly and chatty. After dinner we took everyone for ice cream and Lina taught everyone how to play the” after eight” game, but the chocolate melted quickly in the heat and we all ended up with chocolate stained faces!
On the Saturday, we painted the schoolroom with the kids, but to be honest I think we ended up with more paint on us than on the walls! It was really fun, but not as productive as it could have been. After getting cleaned up from the paint fight, we went back to Allambie for dinner followed by a trip to the night market where we tried some of the street food while we were shopping. On Sunday, we finished painting the schoolroom and started painting the book shelves. We also had a competition of who could paint the best canvas to go on the wall, they all looked really cool. That evening the kids took us for a street food tour, we had bot chien which tasted so delicious! We were then taken for a sweet drink, which reminded me of bubble tea and on to a big park where we saw some fair rides. Lina thought it would be a good idea for us to all go on them! Everyone had fun except Mung who felt a bit sick after!
We also went to the Mekong Delta where we had local fruits and honey tea and went on a boat trip. We saw coconut candy being made and I held a snake! It was a really interesting place, and when we got back to the city, we met Suzanne and the kids at a restaurant. It was a really fun atmosphere and by the end of the night, we were disturbing everyone else there, by putting napkins on our heads and taking photos and making lots of noise! The next day, we helped clean up the paint stains and put the books on the shelves in the schoolroom. We were free for the afternoon so we had our nails done. That night we were meant to be cooking for the kids, but we had other plans. We made a really disgusting tasting soup thing and the kids all took one sip and didn’t like it, so then we announced that we were going to McDonalds for dinner. Their faces lit up and it was just a really enjoyable evening – they ate more food than I could have!
On the last day, we spent the day chilling out by the pool and just went round to Allambie for dinner. The kids taught us how to play Vietnamese cards (still not totally sure about the rules if I’m honest) and playing with jelly tots made it very, very competitive. Saying bye to everyone was really sad and it’s so weird thinking that I won’t be seeing them all everyday now! I really hope to go back and see these amazing people again – Suzanne is doing some amazing work and really changing these kids’ lives, she is a real inspiration and has made me want to help more.