Sunday, March 2, 2008

Leapin' Lizzards Libraries in Que Son

There are too many stories to tell!! On Thursday and Friday of last week we delivered the last two workshops and 12 portable libraries to two central schools in the Que Son District. The Canadian boxes were in this delivery and we were pleased to have contributed to this particularly poor district.
The district is hidden away over a mountain pass, across a beautiful, lush green valley. Even though the fields in the valley seemed to be rich with rice crops and the water buffalo fatter than twenty years ago ( according to Lan, one of our team, a Vietnamese American who has done humanitarian work in this area for many years), we were shocked at the level of poverty. Electricity was only installed in the town in 2005!!
Because Friday's school was a bumpy two hours away from Thursday's school, and about four hours from our hotel, we were invited to stay the night as guests of the People's Party in their headquarters' dormitory. Bruce and I shared our room, and in fact our bed with the lizzard pictured above. He was the size of a cucumber and perhaps he had gotten fat on the fleas and bedbugs which we expected, but did not find on the grey sheets and musty, mildewed blankets and pillows. I slept in my clothes! It wasn't much of a sleep. The bed was lumpy, the the room stinky and the loudspeaker in the compound starting blasting its tinny rendition of the national anthem of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam followed by party propaganda at 4:45 am.
That evening we hosted a BBQ for the school and district officials. Bruce is still wondering if he did indeed drink vodka with the party Chair, the highest ranking communist in this district of 260,000 people, who is in the picture with Le Ly Hayslip and her man Joel Boehm.
Huong is singing us a Vietnamese song at the BBQ, with a fine voice and big heart...he had us all in tears. But the sweetest part of this story is that Huong is the gardener at our hotel!! He and all the staff have been involved in the project. Even the owner's 11 year old son and both receptionists helped us wrap the 500 exercise books that we gave to the kids throughout the week! Huong begged to come along to Que Son, we suspect because it is his home village. He certainly found a few buddies to drink with on Friday afternoon!!!
Ultimately it is about the kids and once again as you can see they could hardly wait to get their hands on the books.
The week was exhausting, frustrating, and exhilarating. We think that we will do it again next year!!!

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