Giving Trip / 1712 Sapa O’Chau, Vietnam
Posted on Saturday, December 30 2017 12:00:00 AM in News by Adele T.
After a 4 hour flight to Hanoi, and a 6.5 hour twilight bus ride, we found ourselves freezing at the back of our sleeper bus, half-lidded eyes, mind in a fuzz, still grappling to grasp hold of the situation. Are we seriously in South-East Asia? It was 4 degrees at 5am. Our bodies motioned for us to get off our seats, we gathered our baggage, dragged them up a flight of stairs to make our way to our accommodation.
Sapa felt ethereal, every corner offering a postcard-worthy scenic view. We were graced with beautiful clear blue skies and lovely warm sun rays. We were told by locals that the day before we arrived it was pouring, for the most part of December, Sapa would be a drenched, gloomy, cold town. Definitely blessed.
We finally had the opportunity to meet Ms. Shu Tan, the founder of Sapa O’Chau in person. Sapa O’Chau was the organisation we chose to work with for this giving trip. They are an award-winning social enterprise, dedicated to helping Sapa ethnic minorities create sustainable job opportunities. Apart from running trekking tours, homestays, and cafe operations, Sapa O’Chau also runs and funds a school/boarding facility to assist H’mong youths, who are otherwise unable to complete their education due to financial and geographical limitations. Shu, her sister, and Mother, collaboratively run the organisation, and were ever so friendly. They took us around their homestay, showed us hand woven and hand dyed Hmong fabrics that Shu’s mother made and gathered from neighbouring tribes to sell at the market in town daily, and offered us warm ginger tea that brought a surge of nostalgic homely waves. We also had our very own guide, Min, one of the H’mong students who is currently boarding and schooling at the Sapa O’Chau facility. Through our conversations, we had a better understanding of some difficulties H’mong youths had to face in order to pursue education and better job prospects. Due to the lack of convenient and affordable public transportation infrastructure, traveling from place to place took time and effort, imagine having to trek mountains on a daily basis in order to attend classes in town! Thanks to the Sapa O’Chau school facility Ms. Shu Tan built, many youths from the various H’mong tribes have a chance at education, a chance to learn conversational English, and employment opportunities.
It was heart-warming to witness the passion and dedication these youths had to improve theirs and their families’ quality of life, leaving their homes for months to study and work, something we too easily take for granted. In all, we distributed 60 #buildabag bags, something small to encourage these amazing youths to keep striving for their dreams, despite restricting circumstances. No better way to embrace the spirit of Christmas.
*Special thanks to Tiffany for taking the time off work to support and join us for this trip!