We have been involved as volunteers and supporters of the Centre since 2008. As an ex-RAAF Vietnam Veteran, we returned to Vietnam in 2007. A very brief, 24 hour tour of Vung Tau, Long Tan and Nui Dat left Ron feeling very restless and needing to return to explore the culture and see the changes which had obviously taken place since his time in 1967. In 2008 when we returned for an extended stay in Vung Tau we had a strong desire to do something to help children. We spoke with a local Australian businessman who in turn introduced us to My Huong.
At that time she outlined to us her dream to have a kindy for a group of young children at the Vung Tau orphanage. That seems so long ago now and looking over the years to see the developments of the centre has been incredible. The children have grown and know us very well now and do not hesitate to tell us what they wish for. We have been so pleased to be able to raise funds to support some of the centres needed items and we have been privileged to spend time with the children. We have taken them on outings to the beach, the movies, bowling, to eat special foods and to play centres. The small centre in Vung Tau city closed in July 2015 with all children being relocated to a purpose-built complex 7km from the city. They now have lots of room to play and learn, have large rooms, bathrooms and a huge kitchen and eating area as well as gardens to grow vegetables.
The huge advances at Long Hai centre school are a credit to all concerned. The children are working hard at their lessons, are polite, well behaved and present well in the uniforms which are sewn by children in the sewing training program. The special needs children are a joy to visit and all work hard with their teachers. The cook does a marvellous job in providing hot meals to all children each day. The motorbike repair shop is training boys in mechanical repairs. The children are all doing very well at karate and love to demonstrate their skills.
We are also privileged to introduce many people to the Centres and few leave without a very positive opinion of the work done by the staff. There are two questions we are often asked. One is why we keep returning to Vietnam, the answer is very simple. We have great affection and respect for the people and especially our friends and children at the centres. The staff work incredibly hard and give their hearts to the children. The other question is how we can bear to leave them. Again, very simple, because we know that they are cared for by people who really care and who love them.
Ron and Ailsa Vernon