Friday, April 24, 2009

Safely Home and Grateful for your Support

We are safely home on Salt Spring Island and already missing the warmth of our Vietnamese family and friends.

It has been a most rewarding Journey of the Heart 2009. We have come home with full hearts and many fond memories. Our work was gratifying although sometimes exhausting, sometimes frustrating, and always HOT!!

As in previous years, we feel that we have made a difference in some lives; books for kids, beds for the sick, skills for the disabled, equipment for disabled workers, clean water and good food for elders and pre-schoolers. We've tackled organizational issues for both an NGO and a social business. We've taught English and cooked 1000 hot dogs for school kids.

We could not have accomplished all this without the support from our home team. Your generous donations and constant encouragement have kept us going. Many thanks to you all.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dalat Delights

When I saw the marble lady at the right of this collage from the tiny deck of our hotel room last night here in Dalat, I thought that she was the Virgin Mary, with her halo of flashing lights, but I see this morning that it is Lady Buddha. Still a curious contrast above the wavering Communist flag. As is the huge roadside signage celebrating the "liberation" of Dalat 35 years ago by the North Vietnamese Army, alongside the flourishing entrepreneurial spirit in the local markets.

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From Almond to Milk Chocolate

Within fifty kilometers of the seaside city of Nha Trang, as we head due west for the highlands we see that the Vietnamese faces become more milk chocolate in color than their lowland countrymen,whose skin is an almond tone. These hill tribes are still known as Moutagnards and they represent some of the 53 ethnic minorities of Vietnam. They speak different dialects and follow different customs. Unfortunately, they are also some of the poorest of village people. We hope to travel to a village of Lat people at the foot of Lang Bian Mountain.

On our way up to Dalat, a city at 1500 meters above sea level, we moved from the dusty roads and rice paddies of the plains to forests of pines, small coffee plantations and acres of greenhouses, where fruits and vegetables prosper. Dalat is a great place to eat, but also the produce is shipped all over Vietnam. There is even a flower bulb industry here, owned and operated by the Dutch. Next time I buy tulip bulbs at Foxglove on Salt Spring, I will check their origin.
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