Written by Carter
What an emotional last full day in Hanoi. We began the day by spending the morning at the SOS Village in West Hanoi. The SOS Village provides abandoned children with fully-functioning homes, each headed by one parent - a mother. There are 16 homes in the compound and each houses approximately 8 children raised solely by the mother. We were able to meet with the director for a very clear explanation of how the village functions, a tour of the compound and a lovely visit with a kindergarten class full of kids happy to share their crayons and paper with us. We made a cash donation as well as a very large suitcase full of clothing, toys and art supplies.
Our next stop was to the Museum of Military Engineering Command where we heard about the efforts of the government to rid Vietnam of the millions of unexploded bombs and landmines that still permeate the landscape. It was a humbling visit. The legacy of the USA/Vietnam war continues as 100,000 people are killed or maimed each year by unexploded ordinance (UXO's). After the presentation, we took a guided tour of the museum where images from the 70's and recovered bombs displayed tastefully have an undeniably powerful effect. At age 54, my emotions were just behind my eyes as the images and the realities of the war brought back memories from my late teens. The Vietnamese are amazing people and to stand beside them in that museum with the atrocities of the war all around us and feel no hate, only hope and good will, is a moment I will never forget.
We left for lunch a humbled crew of 11, our bus very quiet as we all pondered what we'd just seen and heard. Tonight we will gather with our host families and all of the people who supported us over the past two weeks. We leave tomorrow for home; we are anxious to see our loved ones yet we find ourselves torn between two worlds. One where everything is new and exciting, the other full of comfort and predictability. At this point in our trip, we have become familiar with this country and it will be difficult to leave. But the plane leaves tomorrow and we will be on it.