|Me, Amanda and David before registration|
|Singers movitated the crowd pre race|
Each time you make it round a stamp is given. Serious runners could run fast and collect heaps of stamps - David is a particularly good runner; he took part in a fun run in Saigon recently and came 6th out of 7000 runners! Since we weren't sure of the fitness levels of the trainees we decided to wait and see. As it turned out the kids just enjoyed collecting the stamps.
All the kids taking part from KOTO came from Group 18. They have only been with the program for a couple of weeks so their english was going to be very limited. KOTO not only provides them with an education to improve their own lives but instills in them a sense of gratitude and obligation to 'pay it forward' to help others not as lucky as themselves. The Vietnamese people as a race seem to me to be incredibly supportive of each other in general. If one of the laden scooters ever drops it's load and blocks the laneway, there is no honking of horns and abuse to clear the way...they all rush in to help fix the problem. It's inspiring.
We ended up doing a sort of run/walk. The kids found it hilarious when my shorts kept falling down (due to the weight of all the crap I had in my pockets not because I'm skinny sadly), they cracked up when Amanda and I did the Ministry of Silly Walks, in fact they found joy and fun in just about everything.
|We did it!|
I am continually heartened by the propensity that these underprivileged kids have to pure joy, David tells me that prior to coming to KOTO many of them worked all hours at often crappy jobs just to keep body and soul together and had seldom had the chance to just be kids and play.
Just before we waved them off on the bus back to the training centre one of the girls approached Amanda and just said "Happy". It said it all...for them to have the chance to muck about, see us being silly and know that they were doing something to help others was priceless.
Then came my reward; Amanda and David introduced me to a fabulous cafe they had found. Vietnam produces great coffee but sometimes it can be bitter and far too strong for my palate. Cafe Mai has their own roasters and makes a kick arse iced coffee. Condensed milk is put in the bottom of a glass, then ice and coffee are poured over, you stir it up at the table. I was expecting rocket fuel but was very pleasantly surprised at the mellow, nutty but full bodied flavour, and they used just the right amount of condensed milk...not too sweet. We sipped, nibbled and basked in the glow of a great morning.
Everyone here learns very early on how to pose successfully for photos, my problem here was I didn't know how to tell them I was filming them and wanted them to keep running...so I ended up sounding like a broken record...but we got there in the end.
This is the sychronised dance done by the japanese styled group...they maintained their energy levels well considering they stopped to perform at regular points round the lake.