2013 Accomplishments — Thanks to You!
Big Big World Project provides direct support for children living without parents. The children we serve receive focused attention and a commitment from us to help them from childhood through college. Just like a parent would. Our goals are:
1) To provide resources and funding to improve living conditions;
2) To create opportunities for positive life experiences; and
3) To improve their chances for success through education, esteem-building, and work/life skills training.
During our 2013 trip to Vietnam, it became clear that we are making significant progress towards these goals, and the impact of our work over the last six years is really starting to show. We hear this from the children themselves who now refer to us as family, and from all of the people around them. We know that we are making a difference and it feels great! It is with the strong support and generous contributions from all of you who are reading this now and share our love for these kids, that we are able to report the following accomplishments:
A. Thanks to a great new collaboration with World Health Ambassadors (WHA), we were able to focus on the health and physical well-being of our kids.
- WHA sent a highly talented health care team and mobile clinic to the orphanage. In one day, they performed general medical checkups, dental care, dental hygiene training, and eye exams for 26 children, the staff, and some of friends in need from the local community.
- About 40 dental fillings and 10 tooth extractions were performed on the spot.
- We were given prescriptions for, and purchased, eye glasses for 3 children. Now they will be able to read what’s on the board in the front of their classrooms!
- A WHA physician talked to the older children about their health and the need for good judgment as they grow up and start making their own choices about their health.
- Provided vitamins and medications for the children.
- WHA left each child with a new toothbrush and toothpaste. We made sure that we reminded them to use that toothbrush – twice a day!
B. Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to make improvements to the living conditions, provided opportunities to enrich their experience with arts and recreation, and made life a little easier for the children’s caretakers.
- Purchased giant rice cookers, pressure cookers, and tea kettles for each of the two kitchens. (The children are organized into 2 family units within the orphanage, and they function as families with household responsibilities. So there are two kitchens – one for each family.)
- Made tree swing for the children (It was a big hit – thanks Earl!).
- Brought lots of arts and crafts supplies (thanks Rozanne and Catherine) and did really fun projects, including drawing, creative painting with marbles and string, home-made play dough projects, face painting, pipe cleaner and pom-pom creations, and more (thanks Barb for your brilliant creativity – you made friends for life!).
- Made noise with some simple musical instruments that we brought, including wooden percussion items, tambourines, slide whistles and recorders. (I think the nannies were happy when the kids finally put those away.)
- Shared lots of games (thanks Rozanne), puzzles, and a huge K’nex building set to pass the time. It was remarkable how quickly they learned to play these games, even without good instructions from us.
- Earlier in the year, we funded for a new gate and fence to replace the one that was corroding and falling apart. We were thrilled to see a commemorative plaque acknowledging Big Big World on the gate post!
C. We continued to emphasize the importance of education, education, education, to work on their self-esteem, and to help them visualize a bright future for themselves.
- The college kids went to the bookstore to select and purchase books and supplies they need for school.
- A recent college graduate now has a laptop that she will use to help her learn English (thanks Trish!).
- Academic achievement awards were presented for best in class (iPod Touch to Son) and most improved (beautiful star necklace and journal to Hue).
- Year two college students were given laptops (thanks Cheryl and family)—having met the criteria of passing all their classes and working part time.
- Year three college students were given $100 to use as they see fit.
- We continue to support 4 college students with funds for tuition.
- We continue to provide for living expenses for 5 college students and ended support with two others who graduated last Spring.
- We celebrated two students who graduated from their college programs this year and are now interviewing for professional jobs as they start their careers.
- We visited one of the colleges, and did the mama hen type inspection of living quarters for two new college students ((they were OK J).
- We counseled children about school and their future.
- In addition to the year-round English tutoring we provide, this year the enthusiastic and talented Kate stayed on after the trip and is provided activity-based, fun yet intensive, English classes for 4 weeks to the children at the orphanage.
D. Finally, positive life experiences abounded for all of us this trip.
- For our annual clothes shopping trip, each child was given a budget and got to pick out their own new clothes (thanks Kate & Family).
- In addition, we set up a store of our own with the items you donated. Each child got to go shopping in our “store” and picked out several things, including clothing, beanie babies, toys, lotions, skin care and other personal hygiene products, electronics, flashlights, writing pads, and sundry other items.
- We had a rip-roaring good time at Karaoke night with the older children in Ham Tan, and again in Saigon with the college kids.
- This year we managed to get in two swim parties and dinners.
- We feasted at the annual barbeque and talent show at the Center, attended by the kids, the nannies and a few friends.
- The children threw a fabulous fruit party with the unbelievably sweet and delicious fruit that we brought with us to celebrate the start of our visit.
- One of the nannies and her daughter gave us Vietnamese cooking classes so we can make some of the yummy food they make us when we’re there!
- Each child was given an individualized photo album comprising of photos we had shot on our visit to remember us by and to document their own lives.
- We shared countless hugs.
- We cried and dried a few hundred tears.