Seeing into another world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 August, 2010, 12:00am

Each year the charity Orbis runs a campaign to raise money for its missions in developing countries that are working to prevent blindness. Students from Hong Kong are encouraged to come up with creative and business-savvy ways to raise money.

Two students from each of the three schools raising the largest amounts of money get the chance to visit a developing country where Orbis supports people in need of eye care. This year, Orbis sent six Student Ambassadors - from Hong Kong International School, Ying Wa College and Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School - to Vietnam (see Young Post, August 9). The students had a great chance to experience a new culture and see first-hand where the money they raise goes.

The four-day trip included visits to hospitals, schools and patients' homes. The students kept a diary of their daily activities, and here Chloe Nguy, of Hong Kong International School, shares some of her experiences with Sunday Young Post readers.

This entry was written on her final night in Vietnam:

Today was my most memorable day of this trip. That's partly because we go home tomorrow, but also because it's been the day I experienced the most. I've become really close to the kids, and I've actually 'felt' the most.

We first visited a hospital in Thanh Son district where we saw eye examinations and talked to kids waiting in line. It was remarkable how shy the kids were at first. Despite being a leader and Student Ambassador, I didn't know what I should do. However, I learned to stop being so passive and instead approached them with cameras and candy.

After the hospital visit, we conducted home visits to kids at different stages of recovery after surgery. They came from different backgrounds. The first kid was from a wealthy family; yet no matter how wealthy they were, they didn't have access to information about the disease so they could treat it in time. We next visited Anh. He lived in poor conditions, and again because of a lack of education and knowledge, he could not receive proper treatment.

As for the last family, they were also poor. Phan Ba Quang is a kid who suffered from ptosis - a drooping of the upper eyelid - and was teased by his friends. But now we can see he's a happy kid with lots of friends.

I love this kid. He said he was happy to play with me. This was very gratifying as it had been really hard to get him to play with us due to the language barrier, among other reasons. I really enjoyed carrying him around, and finding out what he does. The Polaroid photo was the highlight of my trip, something I will keep forever. I'm happy to see Quang have a brand new life!