Saturday, December 15, 2007

One year in 'Nam

Somewhere buried in the pile of days and duties that was this week was my one-year anniversary of my arrival in Vietnam. This time I'm not actually very surprised that a year has passed since I landed here. It feels more of an inevitability than an achievement. I think once I passed my first year in a foreign country it became apparent that I was perfectly capable of doing it, and now it is simply by the grace of God that I continue to walk this particular path.

Still, an anniversary is an anniversary, but this week hasn't offered a lot of opportunity for reflection on the past year. In fact, it has been a week focused on looking ahead - first with a strategic planning meeting in which we outlined the future of our organization for the next 5 years, and now with a visit from a project donor in which we are busy scrutinizing the current project activities and how that is going to roll into the next years and phases of those project. So instead of spending this anniversary looking behind me, I will spend it looking ahead to the next six months of my contract.

One, other thing I haven't had much time to dedicate to looking to is Christmas. I realize it is right around the corner, and you have my sincerest apologies that for yet another year there will be no Christmas cards. Please know that I am thinking of all of you as you begin to celebrate the season in earnest - and I hope you all have very blessed holidays. I'm really hoping for a chance to come up for air on Christmas day, and I will do my best to catch up then.

For those of you looking for an opportunity to give a little this Christmas season, I would ask you to consider a small project that would be extremely grateful for your support. The name is Tu Van Tuoi Hoa - loosely translated at "Flowering Age Counseling Service" run out of Cao Bang by ADRA Vietnam and supported through private donations given to ADRA Australia. Our counseling project receives more than 120 phone calls per month (about 30 of those go to our 24 hour emergency hotline) and over 150 written inquiries from young people, their parents and friends. Three dedicated counselors work every day to personally answer each one of the questions about life, love, physical/emotional development and substance abuse received by our service, as well as organizing a weekly radio show that broadcasts in 4 languages (3 ethnic dialects and standard Vietnamese) and well as training commune health workers in adolescent-friendly health and counseling services.

If you say, "Boy, that sounds like something we could use in the US/Australia/Europe/wherever I am," you're absolutely right. And people from all over Vietnam and even Vietnamese-speaking individuals living outside of Vietnam take advantage of the service. And while it would be a good service for anybody in the world, It is invaluable in a place where young boys are still confused on the subject of wearing underwear and girls don't really understand how they can become pregnant - and reliable information sources are few and far between.

You can get more information on the project from the ADRA Vietnam projects webpage. Or if you would like to directly support a good cause and the work that I am doing during these holidays, please visit our donor's donation webpage.

Thank you for your consideration of our work and Merry Christmas to all - and to all a blessed and restful night!

No comments: