This is my third summer traveling to Vietnam with Rocks Paper Scissors Children’s Fund (RPS). RPS is a South Kingstown based nonprofit that works with underserved Vietnamese children. It provides transportation to school and music and arts programming through three main projects: bike givings for girls, art classes, and a small strings program in the town of Cam Duc in Cam Ranh Province. As part of our trip this year, we are kicking off a satellite strings program in the city of Hue.
The role of the volunteers on these trips is to act as “summer” instructors in the music and arts programs in Cam Duc and to run arts camps in nearby ethnic minority villages (more on those later). I will also be working on the instruments in the strings program, making sure they are in good shape to be played for the following year. It’s an important job, since good quality instruments can be hard to find in Vietnam and most new ones will need some adjustments in order to be played properly and comfortably. The weather can also be hard on them – during the wet season, it rains hard every day; during the dry season it may not rain at all for weeks. The kids transport their instruments on their bikes – most families don’t have a car and adults use motorbikes (or bicycles) to get to work. So, for instruments where yearly maintenance is a necessity under any circumstances, here it is extra important to have them looked over for issues and any necessary repairs.
The airport near Cam Duc cannot be reached directly on an international flight. Since it takes about 20 hours of flying just to get to either Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, we’ve stayed one night in Saigon and this afternoon caught an hour-long flight to Nha Trang Airport, then drove about 20 minutes to our hotel in Cam Duc. After a much needed evening of rest, we’ll get started with a busy calendar of activities tomorrow morning.
Some pictures from Saigon:
More to come soon!