Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Take A Cycle Through Vietnam

This week we'd like to introduce you to the wonderful, inspiring and unbelievably motivated Caitie Goddard of the GVN Foundation.  Caitie is going to tell you about an exciting adventure she's signed herself up for in April 2011 and why she's so passionate about taking on this challenge.

"I LOVE to travel and hope to do much more of it! I’ve been fortunate to visit and live in some amazing places including Madrid, Spain Bulenga, Uganda and Wellington, New Zealand and have found that more than the actual places, it is the people I meet that make the experience so worthwhile!

That certainly holds true in one of my favorite countries I’ve been, Vietnam. In May of 2010, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Vietnam where I had the “difficult” job of visiting several orphanages and schools where I got to play and spend time with beautiful children. My employer, the GVN Foundation supports these children by fundraising to provide nutritional programs, medical care and salaries for physical therapists who work with the severely disabled children.
One of my tasks while I was there was also to prepare for the first-ever GVN Cycling Challenge; cycling over 500 km (310 miles!) to raise funds for these gorgeous children. Why 500 km? If you’ve ever been to Vietnam or know someone who has, odds are you’ve fallen in love with the people, food and beauty of the country. I couldn’t agree more and that’s why this cycling adventure needs to be… a challenge! No one wants to donate to your time spent in a loungechair on the beach and we want them to know we are serious about fundraising! We’ll still get the beach (and a cocktail…or four!) but that comes after a tough and sweaty challenge to do something perhaps out of your comfort zone for a great cause. (And if it’s not out of yours, rest assured this will certainly be something out of mine!) We ask all participants to raise USD$2,000 (excluding cycling trip costs) that goes directly to the non-profit GVN Foundation to support the projects in Vietnam. Even for those where money is not an obstacle, it means so much more to go through the effort of fundraising and making people aware of what you’re doing!

Participants will challenge themselves to complete the journey in the April heat going from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An. Cycling past scenery that will make you wonder why anyone would consider driving, stops will be made to visit the orphanages we are fundraising to assist and include a lunch with the kids and staff at the projects!  The trip in Vietnam holds the same purpose as the treks; to tackle and accomplish a difficult physical challenge but most importantly, make a huge impact on the lives of the community GVN works with.  The money raised by participants will go towards:

- Education and meal programs for several orphanages
- Vietnamese teacher salaries to reduce class sizes and allow for better English lessons
- An emergency medical fund so when children have an accident or fall sick, they do not have to wait for treatment
- New medical equipment for children with disabilities, including wheelchairs and physiotherapy supplies to help those who need daily treatment
I will never forget the smiles on the kids’ faces and I know that through this bike trip we can significantly change their lives. The children are either orphans or come from families too poor to support them. Many of the children in the surrounding area live in unsafe conditions, sometimes without adequate food, education, or even clean water.  With this trip, we will be changing the lives of over 100 Vietnamese children, giving them a chance to receive adequate nourishment and a proper education to go forward and lead the next generation towards a better life.

Global Volunteer Network has successfully organized trips to climb Mt. Everest, (Nepal) Mt. Kilimanjaro, (Kenya) and Machu Picchu (Peru) to challenge the participants and provide an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see exactly what the funds are able to do by visiting the projects immediately following the trek. This will be the FIRST time we have a cycling challenge and I am thrilled to be leading it!

We currently have a few more spots and it would be great to get some further support from traveling enthusiasts. You don’t have to be a professional rider, we will always have an air-conditioned support vehicle nearby should you need a break or want to trade in some H20 on a bike for some famous Vietnamese coffee in comfort!"

If you have a taste for adventure, Caitie would love for any of our readers to consider this challenge and add it to your list of accomplishments for 2011!

For more information on the Vietnam Cycle Challenge or to apply online please visit our website:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"I Like Table Tennis as it's Fun!"

At GVN we love hearing about unique projects our partners and volunteers are implementing in communities in need around the world.  We also like to be reminded that children are children no matter where they grow up in the world, and the fact is that good honest FUN can be vital to the development of brighter futures!

When we heard that 14 kids at the Brighter Future Children's Home in Nepal were eagerly awaiting the grand opening of their new table tennis table (affectionately named Delilah) we had to find out more...

"The history behind Delilah is that the BFCH kids decided about the middle of last year that they really wanted a ping pong table, so the decision was to save their monthly activities money to help fund it. 

However, in December 2010 an ex BFCH volunteer, Jeremy Ward and his family kindly sent a donation and asked that it go towards something the kids really wanted.  This donation made it possible for the project to get the green light, all they needed then were some community maintenance volunteers with a bit of moxie to give it a go.  Enter stage right, volunteers Diego and Ken.  These volunteers, with the help of the BFCH manager and the kids built her from scratch, with little more than a few basic tools (excluding a spirit level!), some bricks, cement, sand, metal rods, a couple of reclaimed corrugated iron sheets and a whole lot of bamboo!

The end result is AMAZING and Diego and Ken have done themselves and the kids proud!"
Our Nepal partner Kate conducted an interview with Diego and Ken - table tennis table builders extraordinaire, and some of the lucky kids:

Kate:  "So what was your biggest challenge during this building project?"
Boys:  "Trying to get a flat surface and straight sides with no spirit level.  It's amazing what you can do with a bit of string with a weight on the end of it!"
Diego:  "Trying to stop Ken muttering repeatedly in front of the children, 'bloody hell' every time things weren't going quite to plan."
Kate:  "Diego, are you happy with your creation?"
Diego:  "I think she is the most beautiful and happiest table tennis table ever. I have left a little bit of my heart in her."
Kate:  "How about you Ken?" (please note Ken is Scottish and thus not really one for flowery language, so his reply was a real surprise!)
Ken:  "Delilah was built not only by mine, Diego's and Jaggu's fair hands, but from our hearts.  It's an experience I'll never forget.  Seeing the smiles on the little orphans faces nearly brought me to tears. Aaaah bless!"
After picking herself up off the floor at Ken's response and still laughing, Kate then moved onto the children.
Kate:  "Udaya, why do you like playing table tennis?"
Udaya:  "I don't!"
Kate:  "Mmmmn!  Udaya, what do you like best about your new table tennis table?"
Udaya:  "The net!"
Kate:  "Really, anything else?"
Udaya:  "Diego and Ken Dai built us a good table tennis table."
moving on ......
Kate:  "Tajendra, why do you like playing table tennis?"
Taj:  "I like table tennis as it's fun"
Kate:  "What do you think of your new TTT?"
Taj:  "It's the best TTT in Kathmandu!"
At this point Kate thought she would ask one of the older children for their thoughts:
Kate:  "Suresh, who is the best TTT player at BFCH?"

Suresh:  "Me of course!"  (in his defence he does play on the school team)
Kate (laughing out loud):  "Why do you like playing TTT so much?"
Suresh:  "Because it's a funny game"

And that just about says it all!!  Thanks Kate, Ken and Diego and the team in Nepal for putting together such a great project.

For more information on volunteering in Nepal, or to apply online please visit our website: