Unforgettable moments together with Vietnamese orphans

Among the countless good causes that deserve support, those that help children in need are often the ones that touch people’s hearts the most. It is upsetting to see the young and innocent members of society living in hardship and most people’s instinct is to want to help them. This was certainly the case for Wood Coatings colleagues in Dong Nai province, Vietnam. Just six kilometers away from their Amata site is the Be Tho Love Home, which cares for 158 orphans aged from new born to adult, including 60 disabled children.

The center was set up in 1993 by Sister Vu Thi Vinh who looks after the children with ten other nuns – daily chores include cooking, feeding, showering and teaching. They do all they can, but limited resources mean conditions are poor.

“Children suffered with the weather – there were no fans in summer and not enough beds, mats, pillows or blankets during the winter. Only the new born babies sleep on wooden beds – all the other children have to lie on the floor,” said Susan Vu, project coordinator.

“The shower and washing facilities are deteriorating and there are not enough of them for the children on the upper floor. The roof is in a bad way which makes it difficult, especially for tasks such as drying clothes.”

Some areas in the home were also poorly maintained and not cleaned properly, leading to fears of disease being spread by cockroaches or mosquitos – and, of course, the children are always in need of love and affection. They always welcome visitors enthusiastically, seeking hugs and kisses.

A group of 65 volunteers decided to visit Be Tho Love and do what they could to make life better for the children, with support from the Community Program. Repairs, painting and intensive cleaning were carried out on the upper floor, including an area of approximately 50 square meters which was roofed, tiled and painted, and new water taps installed. Six electric fans and 50 new pillows were also donated. Other colleagues helped the children with personal care, cutting nails and bathing them. There was plenty of time to play too, with painting, singing and dancing activities and the team also cooked and served lunch.

“The Amata team forgot the time as it flew by because they were so engaged and excited by the kids,” said Susan. “The best bit was painting and dancing and some of the quieter children showed their potential talents. We could see the happiness on their faces.”

It was a day that emphasized AkzoNobel’s ethos of giving to and caring for the communities in which employees work. Days such as this are an opportunity to contribute positively to society and reflect on how lucky we are in our own lives.

One volunteer said afterwards: “This was my first time joining a Community Program activity. I could see how the children care for each other and I admire the home sisters who spend time with them every day. I hope they will grow up normally and have good futures, and I hope we have can more activities in the future. It also made us stronger and showed to us how we can live AkzoNobel’s values.”