Thursday, May 21, 2009

In a glance - One week in Dong Ha

We arrived in Dong Ha last Thursday morning after taking a 12 hour overnight train from Hanoi. On our first day here we visited Kids First, the vocational school where we would be doing our service projects. As a group we decided that our projects would include painting two logos on a dorm where students sleep, painting one original mural and creating a quilt to hang on the walls of the sewing room. Along with all our creative work, we endured several hours of what we like to call "dirt work" in the intense sun! This project involved us transferring dirt from a nearby wooded area and spreading it in front of the dorm to avoid flooding. 
Working on the Kids First Logo

The mural we designed in progress!

Famous dirt work!

Very tired after first day of work (especially dirt work)

After a few days of hard labor, we decided to spend Sunday afternoon at the beach after a mornings work. The beach was beautiful as it can be seen in the picture. Although we stuck out a bit, we enjoyed ourselves and spent some time playing soccer on the beach with some of the local boys. 


On Monday we toured the majority of Central Vietnam including the DMZ (de-militarized zone from the war), seeing the bridge that once separated the north and south, examining through very small tunnels that an entire village once lived in to escape the war and several historical museums along the way. 
Dak Krong Bridge on the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Hien Luong Bridge - North Side Gate (bridge separating North from South Vietnam)

Entering the underground tunnel system...

in the tunnel..a tight squeeze!!!

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent long hard working days at the school trying to complete our service projects. We also embarked on a basket weaving adventure with some men from an ethnic minority group of Vietnam. 
Basket Weaving

This morning we took a short break from our work to meet with two different NGO's that are based here in Dong Ha. The first, MAG (mine advisory group), deals with de-mining and removing unexploded ordinances (UXO) from previous wars. Here in Vietnam the largest threat to current civilians are UXO's and MAG has been responsible for the removal of hundreds in the past ten years within the Quang Tri province. Their action has saved many lives because civilians often rummage through forests and open land in search of scrap metal and stumbling upong UXO's instead. The second NGO that we visited is called Clear Path International (CPI). CPI's primary goal is to support (medically and financially) those who have been effected from the explosion of UXO's. They also have a scholarship program for effected students.

Andrew informing us about MAG

At the end of the day today, we are proud to say we have successfully completed all of our service projects at Kids First! In the upcoming days we will be traveling to see underwater caves as well as a return trip to the Pacific Ocean :) At the completion of our time in Dong Ha, we will be traveling on a 23 hour train ride to Ho Chi Minh city/Saigon! See you all then :)
putting on the finishing touches

Mural Complete!



  1. Thuy'Anh!

    I am so jealous that I am not in Dong Ha with you guys! The projects you did look STUPENDOUS! I hope everyone is dealing well with the heat and just taking everything in. Tell Truc that I miss him so very much!!!!!


  2. Jenna ơi!
    This is the group blog.
    We miss you and admire your work.
    It's been raining the past few days so ... :)
    I will certainly bring your sweet words to Truc.
    HUGe HUGs