What kind of organisations welcome ICYE volunteers on different sides of the world? Get to know Vietnam Friendship Village which works for cultivating reconciliation and healing the wounds of the Vietnam War.
Interview: Aura Lehikoinen & Susanna Halme
Photo: Aura Lehikoinen
Hello there! What are your names, and what do you do for work?
Hi! We are Ms. Pham Thi Phuong Thao, Ms. Nguyen Thi Loan and Ms. Pham Thu Huong. Thao and Loan work as teachers and Huong as an accountant at Vietnam Friendship Village in Hanoi.
How did you and your organisation get involved with international volunteering?
There have been volunteers for a long time at Vietnam Friendship Village which is a residential facility located in Hanoi, Vietnam. We provide medical care, physical therapy, education, and vocational training to Vietnamese children, young adults, and veterans with a range of maladies presumed to be caused by Agent Orange. The mission of Vietnam Friendship Village is to cultivate reconciliation and heal the wounds of the Vietnam War. We aim at doing that by uniting veterans and caring citizens, with the support of international cooperation, in the building and supporting of the Village of Friendship, a living symbol of peace. Volunteers are an important part of this mission.
What are typical tasks for volunteers in Friendship Village?
The volunteers support children and assist in teaching them. International volunteers work in the classrooms and also in the children’s houses. For example, helping children to eat. They can work all over the village. We have also local Vietnamese volunteers working in the garden, cleaning up the area, and planning activities with children. Volunteers also can teach English to us (the staff) and even to some children.
What are some things that volunteers seem to be surprised about in Vietnam? Or is there anything like that?
They are surprised about the traffic and the weather! They also like friendly people in Vietnam, different types of fruits, and beautiful views. The lake view in the central of Hanoi is popular.
If a young person is thinking about volunteering, what would you say to them and how would you encourage them?
Welcome! Vietnam Friendship Village needs caring and helpful volunteers. The volunteers enjoy working here and many of them come back to this country after their project.