“I Love”: What lies at the end of the journey is the colour of love
After saying goodbye to the Linh Quang shelter, the image of the smiles of pure-hearted children and the sorrow of those who left and those who remained were like a beautiful memory. The “I love” journey was the last activity of the voluntary charity program “The Journey I…” organized by FPT University student group spanning over nearly one month.
At about 4 AM during the morning of 18/08/2018, 25 compassionate people have departed from FPT University (Ho Chi Minh City) in order to bring love to the Linh Quang shelter (Dong Nai).
Despite having to wake up from very early in the morning, the faces of every one were always shinning and filled with excitement, some have woken up at 3 AM, some struggled to sleep the entire night, some have not slept a wink to wait for the departure time.
During the time on the road, some quickly fell asleep to regain their energy, some were too excited to sleep, some played the guitar and sing to create a nice ambient for the trip. Everybody has their own thing to do but all individuals were joyous and restless about arriving at the shelter.
After nearly 100 km, they finally reached Linh Quang shelter at 7 AM. That morning, the sky was ominous and the air was crisp but with an affectionate spirit, everybody took turn transporting their gifts for the shelter. Each gave a hand, rice sacks, instant noodles boxes, a few snacks. Although the road that leads to Linh Quang shelter was quite bumpy and muggy but they persevered and brought everything inside the shelter through unison.
When they first entered the shelter, everybody was quite surprised to see how many children there were. The amount of children here is way greater in any neighbourhood or parks. Even more, so that they were a bit hyperactive and hard to approach.
However, all 25 students organized games and sang together to attract the attention of the small children. At first, the children tried to impede their work but then things get gradually more favourable.
They were only children, all they wanted was someone to play with and care for them. Through love and patience, the members of “I Love” has organized a few interesting games for the children like throwing balls to knock down cans, pinata, mini football.
The journey helped us to understand caring for disadvantaged children and realize the valuable of family. Photo: Coc Sai Gon
After the playing period, lunchtime begins. Unlike the lively and active scene from before, lunch was quiet, unknown sound can only be heard occasionally from somewhere afar but did not break the tranquillity. A peaceful corner of the lovely shelter has finally revealed itself.
While the children were eating, we swiftly took our meals in order to recharge a large portion of our energy after playtime. Only a few nutritious vegetarian dishes and stories of the children was enough to make our lunch more joyful and interesting.
After lunchtime, the rain suddenly fell, cooling off the midday heat. It was almost as if the rain made the children’s siesta deeper and more relaxing.
If one of your days ends really quickly, then at the Linh Quang shelter, every moment is very precious, slowly, gradually, making people feel more relaxed and peaceful compared to the busy modern life.
The children at shelter always feel warm when playing with the students.
Photo: Coc Sai Gon
The atmosphere after the rain was refreshing and brimming with light once again, everybody had their evening meal and played with the children. Looking at the evening meal, people were reminded of themselves during their childhood, longing for dinner with their father, mother and grandparents gathered around the dining table. However, the children around here have no such thing, they only know of their caretakers and friends. Thinking of this makes one feel sorry for the children, they lack the love from their parents.
When the sky began to turn dark, it was time for the children to return to their quarters to bathe. The student group have a night praying session with the female monks inside the pagoda. Because there is a Vu Lan festival during July, from there people understand more about the efforts of their parents and they appreciate it even further.
The members of the “I Love” journey arranged a small nighttime music exchange session for the children. At this moment, everybody delivered to the children sentimental songs ranging from innocent naivety to highly emotional. This is just one gratifying gift of the “I Love” crew for the children of Linh Quang shelter. After that, the funds that were donated throughout the long journey were transferred over to the shelter. Even though the sum was only 15.000.000 VND but it was the spirit, love and generosity from everyone who cared for the program as well as the children. After an emotional night, everybody returned to rest in order to recharge their energy for the morning.
On the dawn of 19/8, it was a dreamy morning, the sky was blue, sunlight reached every corner of the Linh Quang shelter. After eating breakfast, the entire crew organized a few circle games for the children. Each and every one of them was delighted about playing with the students that have been with them from yesterday until now.
It could be said that the more time the children are around us, the more intimate they are, like a family member that they have not met in a long time. Different to the feeling of unfamiliarity when we first met, now the entire crew loves the children and they return in kind, they do not want us to return to Saigon anymore.
The journey also brought many new experiences to FPT University's students.
Photos: Coc Sai Gon
Whether they want it or not, we still have to pack up and travel back to Saigon. Despite all the sorrow, regret and lament, the parting still happened. Even if we return to our busy daily life, the children here will always stay pure, happy and the love for them will not stop coming from their caretakers, humanitarian and even from us. The Linh Quang shelter part way with us with the naïve smile of the children and the love from both the ones who stayed and the ones who left.
DANG KHOA – NGOC LINH