Thuan An Center for Children with Disabilities: I want to tell all about the school so I really shouldn’t be blogging about this because I don’t have all the information. But I will do it anyway in case I never get back around to it.
School is out for the summer but there are several children around all the time. My understanding is they continue to stay here through the summer because they have been abandoned. Several of the children use Vietnamese sign language. I only know this because I have seen them use a few signs with Thuy. They just wave “hi” to me. I think I heard Jill (one of the other members of the team) say that a few of the boys were signing with her today.
This is a government run school, but there are several Catholic nuns here. The Catholic Church is obviously involved in the institution at some level since there are nuns living on the grounds. I’d like to find out more information about that. The nuns have been so wonderful to us of course. One of them is working with us doing translating and the others have some English as well. My understanding is that Thuy is also a devout Catholic. I’m wearing my own cross. They asked me if I was Catholic. I tried to explain that I was Orthodox and it was very similar but it was confusing and there probably wasn't a Vietnamese word for Orthodox. I think we just ended up saying I was Catholic.
I don’t know how much of the school is dedicated to children with hearing loss vs. children with other disabilities (or if it is only hearing loss). I also don’t know how many children reside here vs. how many attend on a daily basis. Vince (a westerner here helping us with videotaping) told me that parents have to pay for their children to go to school here in Vietnam. In the countryside they only go a half day so they can work in the fields and they are so poor they pay with rice. I'm not sure about this school though, I thought I heard someone say that this school was different.
Another tidbit of information I'm suddenly remembering, Thuy lives here with her husband and son. She works so much that sometimes she doesn't even go back to her living space so she doesn't wake them. She keeps a mat in her office so that she can sleep on her desk. More information to find out!