Traditional family life is a strongly held value in Vietnam, with generations still living under the same roof, sharing child care, gardening and household chores. Elders and ancestors are revered.
Luckily for us, this sense of family includes whomever seems adrift, alone or hungry!!! Our family here has grown and now includes many Vietnamese and Westerners, who are bound mostly by our work. We also have a family at our home stay and amongst its former employees. The two women who run our favourite local restaurants, their sisters,husbands and children are also family.
How gracious they all are. We have been invited to homes, a celebration of the anniversary of a Buddhist master's death, a wedding and another for descendants of Fujian Chinese immigrants.
This morning at dawn we went swimming in the ocean with our extended family of ex-pats and locals, adjourning to the small, not yet officially open, cafe beach side, belonging to another Reaching Out volunteer, Sam Miller and her partner. As we sipped coffee and chatted quietly in the cool morning, Anne summed up my feelings when she said " I am filled with such peace and joy".
The food, like our family was a curious mix of French crepes, strong black coffee, and wonderful vegetarian noodle soup. Vive la difference!