In October 2004, the Mercy Reconnect team was privileged to meet with Christina Noble, the founder of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in Vietnam . She talked about the appalling conditions that the Vietnamese children lived in, how they were exploited and had few opportunities to reach their full potential leading into adulthood. Christina extended an invitation to Caseworkers at Mercy Reconnect to volunteer their time and expertise to help at the Foundation in Vietnam .
In August 2005, two caseworkers, Riss Dolman and Annabel Hales volunteered to work in Vietnam with the foundation. This lasted for one month, and when the pair returned they had many stories to tell.
Week one saw them coping with the extreme humidity as they were introduced to the children; many with severe physical disabilities. As the weeks went by, the children became used to Riss and Annabel, as they took them on excursions to nearby parks, taught them card games, dances and songs.
“…I learnt to see the children for what they were. Children who wanted cuddles. Children who wanted to play. Children who wanted to laugh. Just children.” Annabel commented after having spent time with the children at the foundation. “The foundation offered the possibility of an improved life for so many disadvantaged children, that I can only feel privileged to have offered my ten cents worth as well.”, were Riss’ thoughts on the experience.
As Mercy’s core commitment is to those who are vulnerable and distressed in times of disadvantage, so was Riss and Annabel’s commitment during their work in Vietnam , although testing at times. Upon their return Annabel reported on her experiences “It was wonderful and tragic, inspiring and heartbreaking, exciting and sad.” Riss commented on her personal learning’s saying “Nothing is impossible. With determination and sometimes just sheer grit, the unachievable can come true.”
Our vision is for a world where God’s abundant love and mercy is celebrated by all and where every person has access to justice, equity and opportunities for wellbeing.
Volunteering to the foundation allowed Annabel and Riss to practise the giving of abundant love and mercy, and both agree it was an incredible learning experience.