Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yet Another Hero

We have been nestled back into our Salt Spring Island home for a few weeks now, but still fresh are the memories of our work in Vietnam and the wonderful people we meet.

I have been writing about some of these dedicated souls and a HERO series posts seems to be building.

Today's story is about Nha Su Thich Nu Minh Tu.

Almost 30 years ago, Co Minh Tu, having experienced the devastation of Hue during the war, committed herself to providing a loving environment for orphaned and abandoned children.

Today the Duc Son Pagoda Orphanage (  houses almost 200 children.

When we have visited the orphanage with Tours of Peace Vietnam Veterans or on our own, we find the children all scrubbed, polite and welcoming. The atmosphere is very calm, but warm and loving.

From their website:

Individual nuns take responsibility for different aspects of the orphanages'   activities, such as gardening, physical education, cooking, entertainment, health and so on. They are working or on call 24/7 and take turns, along with the volunteers,  supervising the children at night.

The orphanage has a remarkable air of serenity due mainly to the calm, caring atmosphere created by the nuns.

The children are encouraged to join the nuns in prayer on special occasions. But, unlike many pagoda-run orphanages, there is no pressure on children to follow the monastic life. The main aim is to provide the children with the physical well being and emotional strength and confidence to make their own way in life.

The family atmosphere is evident; the older children look after the younger ones and each child has chores which are age appropriate like washing dishes or laundry or working in the garden.

Laundry and dishes become a game with lots of water sloshing about!! Gardening provides exercise out of doors in the fresh air and teaches a respect for the food which they grow.

When we visit the Duc Son Pagoda Orphanage with TOP Tours of Peace Vietnam Veterans it is an exciting day for us and for the kids. We donate a healthy dinner for the kids and months worth of essential supplies and have a wonderful time playing, singing, and visiting with the children.

All the while, Co Minh Tu keeps a watchful eye over her flock and her able staff of nuns and volunteers.

Over the years children have grown and graduated from high school and some from university. becoming independent adults. All, I am sure have loving hearts as exemplified by Nha Su Thich Nu Minh Tu...their hero and mine.