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After the visit of the Museum of Vietnamese history and the zoo, our program of discovery of the society continues for the pupils of Maison Chance. Thus, on November 30th we organized a trip to meet the orphans and disabled people of the Lang Tre pagoda in the city of Cam My, Dong Nai province.

The purpose of this trip was to show the students, who are living in difficult situations, than some of their contemporaries are worse-off than they are. Located a hundred kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, the journey took almost four hours and we have to take a bumpy road in a forest of rubber trees to cover the last 15 kilometers.

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This pagoda was founded by the monk Thich Chieu Bon in 2007 and is situated near an isolated hill surrounded by rubber trees. When we arrived, we were very surprised to see a row of new coffins in the warehouse made to deal with the death of lonely elderly welcomed by the center. We enter the building and go through a series of rooms each dedicated to a different type of beneficiaries: people with cerebral palsy, infants, old people and people with disabilities. This center is like a big family which includes three generations: children, young and old people.

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The atmosphere is calm and the air is pure but the center has no electricity because of its distance from the road. There is a tiny generator that is used sparingly. Seeing this, the pupils were able to measure the difficulties of this place. Although they are not rich and need support to go to school, they never imagined that people can live in such poverty. Some children have the same age but their bodies are deformed by the disease, babies are handed over the center’s care and the seniors are sad and miss their family. Our students realized how much they were lucky to have a family, a good health and the opportunity to go to school. They went from one room to another with their teacher to express their sympathy, to exchange a few works and distribute small gifts to all these unlucky people. Giving is receiving, what a meaningful expression. The children gave small presents and received words of gratitude, happy smiles, full of love handshakes.

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In addition of these small gifts, we also brought them rice, instant noodles, diapers for the elderly and the children. The big boys helped to carry all the goods in the lobby. The people of the pagoda thanked us warmly and invited us to share a vegetarian meal.

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Then we rested a little before the start of a small representation. The children of the pagoda laughed loudly watching the comedy of the children of Maison Chance. The seniors were moved listening to songs about parental love. This trip to Lang Tre pagoda was very interesting and meaningful for the students of Maison Chance as well as for the adults who didn’t know this warm center. We wish good health to everyone and hope that the center will soon have access to electricity and can expand to help even more people in need.

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Thanks to this trip, our students were able to understand the difficult life of the beneficiaries of the center and learn to share, empathize and appreciate the few they have. When the time to go home arrived, we all went on the buses but our eyes and our feelings were already nostalgic of the beautiful encounters we made….

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January 2014