Making a difference in Vietnam

Three weeks spent working with orphans, the elderly and disabled in Vietnam will be a life-changing experience for two Warrnambool Deakin University students.

Team effort: Student Maggie Ryan and  Kerrie Luciani are joining the Deakin University Volunteer Vietnam Project this year. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Team effort: Student Maggie Ryan and Kerrie Luciani are joining the Deakin University Volunteer Vietnam Project this year. Picture: Rob Gunstone

Accounting student Kerrie Luciani and Primary Education student Maggie Ryan are hoping to raise $6000 to buy wheelchairs, physio equipment, and teaching aids for schools as part of the Deakin Abroad community volunteer program.

The pair will be based in DaNang - a city of 1.2 million people in central Vietnam – but they will not be staying in the area that is popular with tourists.

Instead they will be living in a hostel on the outskirts of town among the the locals. “Apparently not all the rooms have air-conditioning at 37 degree heat,” Mrs Luciani said.

The pair will be part of a team of eight Deakin students who will volunteer at a social support centre looking after the elderly and people with disabilities.

They will also be doing some early years education and providing basic care at the Red Cross baby orphanage and primary schools.

“Effectively it is to educate the educators,” Mrs Luciani said.

“It’s not just what we’ll be able to help them with, I think that it’s going to make a huge difference in my life after what we’re exposed to over there. I think it will be very confronting.”

Ms Ryan said the aim was to use the skills of the students, who come from a range of university faculties, to help the people of Vietnam become self-sufficient, and to provide resources.

Donation tins have been placed around Warrnambool to help with the fundraising effort and you can also donate online.

The pair leave for Vietnam on June 18 and for Ms Ryan it is her third time volunteering overseas, having previously worked in Peru and Nepal.