Peter with Anita from BOVA at Thornleigh House
Peter Hampshire has recently returned from an overseas placement with Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) in southern Vietnam, where he joined Don Bosco Dong Thuan, a residential vocational school. When he visited Thornleigh House for a post-placement “debrief” with BOVA Coordinator Anita, I asked him about his impressions of the project and the country, and the difference the experience has made to him.
I spent most of my time supporting community activities, teaching some English, and supporting the students with their music, sport, prayer time, and just generally joining in with meals and activities. The age range was mostly 15-22, but the oldest was 24 and the youngest was 13. The students come from all over Vietnam and they have very different backgrounds - some are very rich and some are very poor. Most of them come from socially tough backgrounds, maybe their parents have split and they've had difficult things to deal with.
I think the main motivation for families sending them was to help them appreciate the importance of education, and to give them a good education and good values. They were trained in vocational skills as well, mechanics and engineering for the boys, sewing and hair and beauty for the girls. They can almost guarantee the students a job after they graduate from the school, so it's a good system. When they leave, some go back to live with their families and work near home, but many go to Ho Chi Min City for work, and they’ll find places to live there.