Love at First Sight

We woke up early under our bug net covered, dorm style beds. We all share a large room above the toddler room (how convenient).

We wake up to the sound of tropical birds, the right on time rooster and 70+ kids getting ready for school. A group of three get up earlier than the rest to help make breakfast for the home. Whether their daily chore is before or after school, each child is assigned a rotating chore that is completed every day. I offer to help prior to breakfast but I’m told I must eat first, then help. We are shy but eager to help on our first full day here at the orphanage. The shyness doesn’t last too long as the toddlers are up, ready to play, and share their love. How can you not believe in love at first sight when you wake up to their smiling faces every morning?

We spend the morning looking after Putu and Nickell. Didi (Sister) joins us briefly during breakfast and explains where we are needed most. It’s easy really, she said if you notice something wrong or out of place, fix it. If we see an unfinished project that we want to finish, do so. She is a very busy woman and we aren’t here to create more work for her but to help and hopefully relieve some stress and work. So we all took some action and spent the morning entertaining and playing with the kids who are too young for school, cleaned the workshop, took out the compost, picked up out of place toys, wrappers, etc, turned the soil and tidied up the land as we got a feel for how the typical day plays out.

Each dorm room is divided by grades. There are two babies here at the home and they stay with Didi. There’s a toddler room which is supervised 24/7 by an adult, a mother of a teenager here. They came here three years ago when they lost their father/husband. Followed by a room for 1st-3rd grades, 4th-6th, 7th-8th and then high school and university students.

The younger grades arrive home from school first. Just like American kids they arrive tired, hungry, and ready to play. They are excited to greet us upon their arrival home. The older grades trickle in and by then it’s chore time. A bell rings throughout the home when it’s ready for study time. The children are divided by their grades and subject, math and English. The six of us get a small group each of three or less and we spend the next hour studying. They love to study and their hard work shows as some of us had to use our phone for a refresher on some math problems.

Yoga is immediately followed by study. The bell rings and notebooks are placed back in book bags and yoga mats are rolled out. Another volunteer from Vietnam is their yoga instructor and we join in, too, and spend the next hour practicing our yoga. Yoga in the home and widely throughout the country is a religion. The next 2+ hours we join in their daily yoga and meditation practice, a great way to immerse ourselves in their world.

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