Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To the mekong delta we go

We have now arrived in ben tre for the second part of our experience

Our days are long. I roll out of bed at 540. After a short breakfast we all hop on our bikes and head to our morning work sites. In the morning we divide into two groups. One group is working to build a house for a family. The project literally started on an empty plot of land that contained the remainder of the family's house just a few days ago. The jobs there so far have been undertakings such as digging holes for the foundation and using bicycles to cart bags of cement to the house. The family who we are building the house for is there everyday helping out. They are extremely sweet. They constantly offer us coconut juice in the actual coconut--coconuts are one of the main crops in ben tre. The family members try to use their limited knowledge of english to communicate with us and we try to use our limited vietnamese to respond.

The second site is a school. The job at this site is to fix the school up. This includes mostly scrapping and painting walls. Also, at this site there are several children who live in the community who help us. They are all around ten and are very eager to help us. I am constantly amazed how much can be communicated through simple gestures.

In the afternoon we are running a summer camp/school for the local children. They are very eager to learn because normally they would have no activities in the afternoon. We have divided the days into subjects and are teaching english, p.e./health, science, and art.

Ben Tre itself is a very interesting area. Our commute is almost unreal. We ride bicycles along streets lined with coconut trees with livestock wandering on the side of the road. Yet, despite this beauty, it is clear that life is hard here for many people. For example, at the house the family has a small girl. She is very sweet and eager to play with us. Yet, her front teeth have rotted out because of a lack of calcium. Despite the diffiult life that some people lead, they are very friendly. As we ride to work with our matching blue shirts and hats we constantly hear shouts of "hello!" I'm still trying to master the art of one handed bike riding so that I can wave to them.

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