As I arrived at The Tan Son Nhat International Airport, images of last years Charity Trip continued running through my mind. I remember all the places I had stopped at last year and all the children I met along the way. After long weeks of raising money for The Golden Heart Club, I was ready to share all that I had collected with the unfortunate children. I had 8 suitcases total that I carried from the US to Vietnam which included candy, medicine, and clothes from America.
After settling down, my charity trip began just 3 days after. Throughout the five weeks that I spent in Vietnam, I had visited a total of 15 places; 2 of which were special conditions. After arriving in Vietnam, I contacted some fellow college students from an association called Dau Chan Viet who usually volunteer and help out at orphanages in all areas of Vietnam. With just my mother and I; buying, preparing, and transferring gifts to each orphanage would have been impossible without the help from them and many other people that I met along the way. Before traveling to each orphanage, my mother and I would set out to buy additional items such as sandwiches, ham, and vegetables which were used to make lunch for the children and other items such as oil, rice, dry noodles, condiments, and clothing to pass out to the children. Along with this, we bought around 7500 notebooks and school supplies such as pens, pencils, erasers, and rulers which we divided into 750 packages for children who were in school. At around 6 am, our day would begin. We would load all items needed for that day's trip onto the car and would set out to our destination. Each time we arrived at a location, the children would come running out to greet us with excitement and hope on their faces, because they knew we were coming to visit and pass out gifts to them for that day. Seeing the smiles on their faces made all the hard work worthwhile. All the traveling to different stores to bargain for items, putting everything together, and carrying them from place to place required a lot of strength and energy. Each day of my trip started out at 6 am and did not end until around 7 pm. Although all this work wasn't easy, being able to see how happy the children were every time was the motivation for us to keep going. One of my favorite parts of each trip was making lunch for the children. I would sit there and cut up sandwiches, put in meat, and pass them out to each person there. Although a sandwich isn't something expensive and greatly desired in our lives, these children saw it as a very special lunch for the day. They never got the chance to eat sandwiches and ate it up with looks of great satisfaction on their faces. At each orphanage; I would pass out gift bags which included candy and crackers, packs of school supplies to those children who were in school, and clothing to the children. I would also bring rice, noodles, condiments, and other necessities such as towels and medicine to each orphanage that needed it. After passing out everything, I would spend time with the children either singing a song, playing games, or talking to them about their daily lives. Two conditions that left the biggest impression in my heart throughout this trip was at Ben Tre and Thu Duc. At Ben Tre, I met a little boy who was only 10 years old who had a brain tumor. He had already gotten surgery for it, but did not have money to go for checkups. He has such a sad look on his face the whole time, and when I told him I would try to give him whatever he wanted as long as he told me, he said "All I want is to get well and go to school". Hearing this made me very sad, because I knew that I could not help him with this. This little boy just wanted a normal life like all his peers. All I could do at that point was give his grandma some money so that she could continue taking him to the doctor. The 2nd condition was at Thu Duc. This was one of the special conditions I had mentioned of above. Residing in Thu Duc was a little boy named Hau who was around the age of 12. Ever since he was born, he had a skin disease which his parents could not afford to cure. His skin would peel and dry up and then it would peel again, always giving this boy pain. Before arriving in Vietnam, I had already heard of his condition and bought Hydro cortisone, Cetaphil lotion, and body wash which could help with his disease. Asking him the same question I had asked the other boy, he also replied saying "All I want is to get better and go to school". Both of these boys wanted something I could not give them. All the children I had visited along the way also lived lives missing the necessities that most of us have and take for granted everyday. There are too many poor people in Vietnam, and we can never help all of them. I believe that it is fate that brought me to meet the children I met along the way. It was fate that I was able to meet so many people who have supported me in my cause and it is fate that I was able to share this with all of them. Throughout my five weeks in Vietnam, I was able to meet over 1000 children. Each and every one of their smiles makes all the sweat and hard work worthwhile. As I sit on the plane returning back to the US, thoughts of my trip run through my mind. I have never had such a meaningful summer before. Summer 2011 will always remain in my heart, an unforgettable summer with memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who has always been supportive of me. Thank you for sharing even a little of what you have to make the lives of these children a little better each day. On behalf of the Golden Heart Club, I would like to thank you guys for everything.