Our trip is quickly winding down. Its been great! Had 23 guests! Honestly I am a bit tired but wish we had another couple weeks as we just got a taste of GIBTK.
Here's a couple of stories written by GIBTK team members. I'm a bit behind in getting 'them out. The first is by Dr. Ann Marie McNiell and the second one from 15 year old Eil Shriner, grandson of board member Linda Shaul. Enjoy their insights
As I learned more about all that GIBTK has done for the community in Vietnam, I thought, "How is it possible that Robert has made all of this happen"? Then I met Tum. Her shirt says it all. Brilliant. Tam is all business... shouting "Let's go," keeping us all on schedule at all times. She is the mastermind and doer behind much of the GIBTK operations. How does she do it all? Tam was raised by a poor farmer in a home she describes as being somewhat like a shed. She has a true heart and compassion for those she serves.
At our Heart meeting, she broke down in tears translating the story of a single mother with a baby with a heart defect. Tum's heart was truly with that young mother. I don't know how she still managed to continue the meeting and keep everyone on task. Brilliant.
I was asked by Robert to teach the girls at Marlene and Vera's home in Battambang, Cambodia, about hygiene. I wanted to learn more about the girls and their lifestyle and culture before making any recommendations. I led a discussion with the girls, with translation done by a graduate of the program. I introduced myself as a doctor from the US who specializes in dermatology. We talked about why hygiene is important, and the girls came up with for keeping themselves healthy, keeping them looking good, and also keeping their community and friends healthy.
Overall I was impressed with the girls' English, their fearlessness to engage in discussion, their knowledge about how disease is spread, and their enthusiasm for learning. At the end of the discussion, they all shared their career aspirations. Seven of the girls are planning to be a doctor so they can help their community. I have no reason to believe that with the continued support of GIBTK these girls will be able to achieve their goals.
The hardest thing I have seen so far was the Killing Fields in Cambodia because of the shear number of people who were killed there including babies, for no other reason than for a dictator to remain in power. More than three million people were killed during Pol Pot's reign, wiping out over one third of the population. I knew nothing of Cambodia's history before visiting there. The killing tree where babies were killed in front of their mother's was horrifying and senseless. It was hard to imagine that this really happened in history and was not stopped by people who knew about it and could have done something. This stands out as a reminder not to let fear dictate your actions.
The entire nation was held captive by their fear and was too afraid to act. People like Pol Pot who do things like he did should be remembered as examples of what could happen when a madman comes to power and should not be forgotten or ignored. I hope that others who read this are motivated to help make the world a better place. If you see something wrong, do something about it. Remember the horrors of the past so they are not repeated.
Throughout my mission trip to Vietnam and Cambodia there have been a lot of things I have seen and experienced so far. Another thing that stood out to me was what happened when we got off the plane from Cambodia in Vietnam. We got out of the airport terminal and all of the kids were waiting for us right outside the doors of the airport. They had all come to surprise us and were extremely welcoming to me, even though I hadn't met any of them before. They ran around hugging and giving high fives to everyone they knew, but also the new people such as myself.
Already I could tell how kind and friendly the kids were even though they had lived through hardships. I could see the huge amount of difference GIBTK has made for them by providing, food, shelter, education and even medical care. Because of being in the care of Giving It Back to Kids they have an opportunity to complete their education, which will change their life for the better.
The next day during the craft time there were smaller boys who couldn't participate in the craft yet, but instead worked on coloring a door hanger. Instead of being bored or complaining like I would have at that age, they chose to get really excited about the craft and see what they could do with it. They decorated their door hangers better than I could now without complaining and I was really impressed by that. They were very artistic, kind, and fun to be around. We could understand each other, even with their limited English and my non-ability to speak Vietnamese, which surprised me. Smiles have no language barrier.
Vietnam is a wonderful place with lots of opportunities to help. I would encourage anyone who is considering visiting another country or wanting to make a difference in someone's life, to come to Vietnam. I plan to return again.
Got a teen or young adult who should join us? Lets talk sooner then later. This year the trip filled very quickly and I had several I had to turn down.