Two months ago, in late June, ACTS Vietnam mission team headed to the Salesian sisters’ community at Nghe An province in Vinh City, where we joined the sisters in rolling out a two-day summer camp for about 300 needy kindergarten, primary and secondary students in Nghi Duc, Nghi Loc ward. Our mission team of eight helped in the activities planned for by the sisters, facilitated a hygiene workshop, and distributed gifts to the villagers.
So, the first day on 28th June was spent at the sisters’ community, where we assisted them and the student boarders with the summer camp programme. Although it was our first time at Vinh city, the children at the camp were very friendly towards us, they were quick to “break the ice” by communicating with us despite the language barrier.
During the bracelet-making workshop for the grade 4 and 5 students, the young boys patiently guided us through the process. There was a particular act of selflessness that tugged at our heart strings when we saw a young boy called Anh, after completing his own bracelet, went forward to help complete his friends’ bracelets, all on his own accord. Other activities at the summer camp included making pencil containers from used hard paper, arranging paper flowers, designing hats, and playing sit-down volleyball.
The healthy competitiveness and fighting spirit in the young children were evident as they came up with clever plans and strategies to win each game. It was certainly heart-warming for us to see them work together to achieve a common goal.
The first day ended with lovely performances by the children and a thanksgiving. The ACTS Vietnam mission members then spent some time together to reflect on the subject of ‘charity’. It got us thinking seriously about what it really means to do charitable acts.
The second day on 30th June, we distributed gift parcels to the villagers and visited families in need. As this was our first time visiting homes, we were quite taken aback by the living conditions, where the only source of water is from a dark, murky well. After boiling the water, the families would use it for drinking and cooking.
It was indeed an eye-opener for us, and we were glad to be able to provide some assistance to the families, no matter how small. More importantly, we were given the opportunity to share our love genuinely with the villagers, and experience their unique culture in return. Serendipitously, the reflection on our second day was ‘culture’, so we were able to reflect deeply on how important it is to respect one another’s culture, especially when it is very different from our own.
Although it was only a two-day programme at the Salesian sisters’ community, we learnt many invaluable lessons, especially the act of sharing and giving. It is not the amount one shares or gives, but the genuine love steeped in that act, that the receiver appreciates most.
We look forward to more mission trips like this, and we want to sincerely thank the Salesian sisters for their generous hospitality, always sharing what little they have with us. Experiencing their love for the children and the community will stay in our hearts for a long, long time.