Saturday, October 31, 2015

Celebrating a Milestone

We have been volunteering at Reaching Out Vietnam since 2008. But long before we crossed the threshold of this amazing social enterprise Mr. Binh and his wife Quyen established the business with three employees and a grand vision.

Last night, along with their now 70 employees we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of Reaching Out.

The gala was catered, but in concert with the core values of the organization, it was catered by a local charity, Ong Van, (Yellow Bee, or Same Same but Different, depending on who is speaking). This is the group who make the arduous journey up into the mountains to build schools for very poor villages.  It was a huge win-win. Reaching Out got a great party and Ong Van raised funds for yet another school.

Our new friend Thanhhuynh Huynh spearheaded the organization of the event. With a crew of about 30 people, they provided the entire setup, seating, food, music and lights (even fireworks at the right moments!) There were dancers and singers and the crowd of about 100 people loved it!

Even Gao, at 3 years old took up his ukelele to perform with a guitarist. How cute was this!

Everyone was honoured, the long term employees, the sales team, the artisans, the teahouse servers, the volunteers (yes, Bruce and I too) There were gifts and surprises galore.

Binh and Quyen chose the occasion to announce some new benefits including a new Child Care Allowance for all employees with children and an Early Retirement package for employees whose health may prevent them from working until age 60 or 65 years old. We all had a few tears, when Quyen, much to Binh's surprise, included him in the small group. He was touched as we all were by the thoughtfulness and recognition that her husband has toiled for many years in his pursuit to provide better lives for people of disability in Hoi An and beyond. His tireless dedication seems daunting and we are in awe of his accomplishments.

Every employee regardless of length of service received a commemorative plate, a gift certificate and a cactus (symbolic of sustainability)

The gift giving was so well orchestrated. Senior employees had all the gifts organized and recipients names appeared on the screen, along with the names of the presenters. This crew was also on hand to help Bruce and I present the gifts graciously. Photos were fast!

A special guest was Hien, who travelled down from Da Nang. We attended Hien's wedding five years ago. A talented painter, whose work is showcased at Reaching Out, he now has two children.

And then the food! What a spread! And the beer flowed with many Mot Hai Ba's...the traditional toast  ( loosely, two, three drink!)

There were so many photos....these are two of my favourites. The Tea House staff are so very beautiful and gracious and although speech and hearing impaired felt very much a part of all the goings on...every speech and presentation was simultaneously signed....and they too celebrated!

We have learned so much from our Reaching Out family about loving and caring for one another. As the evening wore on and the music lulled into a quiet tune, we just needed to hang on to each other, the amusement of all, we danced on the lawn.

Never did we imagine in 2008 that we would still be working with this wonderful group of people in 2015 and be present for their 15th Anniversary party. 

Donors to Journeys of the Heart through the years have sponsored many of the young people with whom we celebrated last night. They have become skilled artisans, loving people and fully integrated into their communities. Thank you for helping to launch them. 

1 comment:

  1. I continue to be moved by your work and commitment Elaine and Bruce. And vicariously, I still get to experience some of it through your blog.
    You would never say it, but the evening was a celebration of both of you too. You've had a very important hand in supporting Quyen and Binh to achieve so much.
    Safe return! Michel