How was YOUR Sunday? Well, yesterday, mine started with me waking up at 3:30am to prepare for a 4:30am pickup. Yesterday, while I was interviewing Ronnie Defour at Karma Waters, Grace Nguyen, Karma Waters owner, invited me to ride along to observe and participate in a community support project in Quảng Ngãi Province, south of Da Nang, in Vietnam.
My pickup posse of three arrived, we greeted each other and headed out into the pre-sunrise morning to Karma Waters.
After a short wait, then quick loading and boarding, our two-vehicle convoy (supply truck and passenger bus) set out at 5:29am.
Okay, Okay. I know I may not LOOK happy in this next photo, but trust me, once the bus driver told us he would NOT be able to turn on the air conditioning, I was in heaven! Imagine! A window seat, an open window for natural breezes, a four hour plus drive through the hills of Vietnam! This is exactly the sort of thing I thrive on!
Yes, this is exactly how I like to get to know a new location–spending a few weeks hanging out with local folks, doing what local folks do, being outdoors, breathing the air, feeling the sunshine and rain, taking the pulse of the community, adjusting to the pattern and pace of everyday life….just living like a local!
The trip took 4 hours 43 minutes We left Da Nang at exactly 5:29am, and pulled up to the Tra Khue Ethnic Minority Primary School in Quảng Ngãi at 10:12am. (Sorry, it’s the former civil engineer in me who tends to get so detailed!)
A screen shot of Google maps on my phone places me at the blue dot. Approximate distance on the map: 165km or 102mi, but we definitely traveled a bit more than that!
Now, on to important matters. This trip was part of Karma Waters’ series of Charitable Programs. From their website:
“Our Karma Waters Ethnic Support Program delivers daily plant-based meals and support (such as books, clothing, toys and more) to ethnic minority families in the Quang Nam Province in Central of Vietnam.
With this program, and with funds collected in the Karma Waters restaurants, we help provide critical support to children and families in poverty through improved nutrition, health and even friendly support visits and friendship which provides them with some happiness.
With your help, Karma Waters can expand this program and help even more ethnic minority families. Check out our video and gallery below [see website] and you can see the impact this program has on the children and families in the Quang Nam Province.” Donate
Photos from the event:
The founder of Karma Waters is Nguyen Thi Bao Duyen (Grace Nguyen). Grace is an IT graduate, a professional vegan chef, and the founder of 2 vegan restaurants called Karma Waters in Vietnam. She also helps run the Karma Waters Charitable Association, teaches vegan cooking classes, creates menus for restaurants and hosts private dinners.
How Karma Waters Began
[According to Grace] “I became vegetarian in 2002, and later a vegan. I became vegetarian myself because of an incident with a fish. Yes, a fish changed my life! One day, while I was in China…(Read Grace’s amazing story here)”
All the students waited patiently until their names were called, and Ronnie helped them pass the time a little more enjoyably while they waited.
Ultimately, every single student there that day (between 125-150) received a gift package. Once the distribution was complete, the volunteers posed for a few photos:
The giving, however, was not over. Volunteers also helped erect a children’s slide….
…and a swing.
We all ate some guavas, watermelon and spicy tofu with sticky rice…..
…then headed back north in the rain, departing at 1:45pm! It was sad to leave after such a rewarding day….
Congratulations to Grace and family, Karma Waters, the volunteers, Ronnie and family, the bus driver, his assistant, and all the unseen folks who made the event a success! And, thanks for letting me be and see a part of it all!
Back at Karma Waters Headquarters, we said our goodbyes, and my pickup posse took me back to the Stingray Hostel! It was a great experience, exactly the sort of thing that exemplifies why I travel abroad!
….and THAT’S how I spent my Sunday. Like I said, how was YOUR day?
I’ll be working on the video over the next few hours and will make another post announcing it!
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