We finally have arrived at site visit time! Our team is small this year- Betsy Jett, our pres., her daughter Gisela, me, and my daughter Zoe. Zoe is here for the second year and is very proud that she saved up her own money for her ticket, with the help of the Bank of Grandma's generous interest rates.
We consider our annual visit to be the core of our program in many ways. It is a time to assess how the kids are doing, whether the tutoring is effective, see for ourselves the growth and/or challenges of each child. Seeing them and talking to them every year creates a strong mutual accountability. It is also a time for friendship and mothering, hugs and fun. We pack a lot into our time with them.
This year, the kids have a new challenge to face. Their orphanage has been merged with another small orphanage and both are being moved to a brand new facility. The new place is in Phan Thiet, a city about an hour away from their current small town location.
Naturally, the kids are shocked and sad, and some are scared. Anyone of us who has experienced a move as a child can relate to these feelings. Fortunately, their nannies and Mr.Chuc, the director, will also be going to the new center. The move happened about two weeks ago.
We know we will have a lot of work to do to help ease their anxieties, and we are recruiting the college kids to help us. Our message this year is that life will always be full of surprises and change. We will try to help them identify the positive aspects of this change and remind them that one thing hasn't changed- we are still here for them.
The college kids, Hang, Phap, Phung, and university freshman Son Trinh. All came to our hotel on our first night in town. We went out for dinner and caught up each other's lives. They look happy and healthy and seem confident.
Hang has passed her exams and will officially graduate from college as a pharmacy tech in November. Anthony, working in Ham Tan now, will take his exams in Jaunuary. He will graduate with an English degree. Phap, Phung, and Son Trinh all have a few years to go.
Our jet lag is a little rough - hopefully we will recover quickly! We leave for Phan Thiet on Friday!