The house of the hardworking flowers


0:00 – 6:30am: Our hotel without windows is located next to the road between China and Vietnam. There are a lot of noisy trucks.

6:30: Warm breakfast with a traditional Pho-soup

7:15- 9:00: Over a road trough the mountains (sometimes muddy)

9:00: A great warm welcome by the kids. They took us by hand to the meeting room.

09:05 – 09.30: Short presentation about the school and its development over the last few years

10:00 – 11.30: Singing, dancing, cooking, playing, drawing, knitting and handicrafts, tug-of-war until the rope cracks. They showed us how to design a children’s book about a lost duck looking for its mother. Dalina got it as a present.

A woman teacher her daughter handicrafts
A woman teaches her daughter handicrafts – by Kai Hartmann

12:00 – 1:00pm: Having lunch with the community. While sitting on the floor, our legs get painful.

1:00 – 1:30: The journey to the satellite school Son Thuy 2. Four kilometres by car and one kilometre by motorscooter over a rope bridge.

Crossing a river on the way to Son Thuy school
Crossing a river on the way to Son Thuy school – by Kai Hartmann

1:30: The children grabbed us from the motorscooters.

IKEA co-workers with students from Son Thuy 2
IKEA co-workers with students from Son Thuy 2 – by Ngoc Long Tran

1:31: The children, full of pride, showed us their classrooms. They have been built thanks to funding from the Soft Toys for Education campaign.

School timetable and thank-you sign
School timetable and thank-you sign – by Dalina Tischler

1:32: The children showed us murals with their names. Each child who performs well gets a flower with his or her name on it, and they are very proud of them.

1:34: We saw beautifully handwritten exams from children in the 3rd grade. They looked like artistic prints or calligraphy.

A student proudly displays her handwriting
A student proudly displays her handwriting

1:35 – 2:50: Singing, dancing, playing, handicrafts with the children. Very sweaty.

Children's writing on the blackboard
Children’s writing on the blackboard – by Dalina Tischler

2.51 – 2.55: Loud enthusiasm when they see the IKEA presents for the whole school – hand puppets from the IKEA soft toy collection. It is difficult to pass the puppets over the little hands to the school principal, Do Chi Hang.

3:00 – 5:00: On the way back to Lao Cai, we stopped at the Chinese border to rest.

Sunset at the Vietnam-China border
Sunset at the Vietnam-China border – by Melanie Kallen

6:00: Dinner with rice soup and salmon. You also could choose French fries and duck eggs.

7.30: Departure on time to Hanoi in the air-conditioned night train.

11:59: Air-conditioning is switched off. The rest of the night is hot and sweaty.

As we arrived in Hanoi at 4 pm this morning, the streets were empty (which happens not very often), but the market is already busy. We all urgently need a cold shower and some sleep.

    Melanie Kallen