Vietnam trip 2015

Vietnam Trip 2015 with Buds to Blossoms

This was my second trip with Buds to Blossoms giving nurturing massage to kids with HIV and disabilities.FullSizeRender (19)
This time our journey went to Vietnam, Saigon.
It is exciting, a group of people coming together from all parts of the world with one goal in mind, being of service to kids in need. With a private bus and driver we traveled from one orphanage to the next. Some kids are fortunate and still have a relative they can go home to in the evening, but some kids don’t.
The kids always greet us with big smiles saying “mat xa mat xa” (means massage in Vietnamese). They know from other visits what is coming. Although I speak like 5 words of Vietnamese the language is not an obstacle.Touch is an universal language and smiles too.

In Saigon one man Nguyen van Hung, he is called “the Teacher”, started the Smile Group Program. A group of people took on responsibilities of caring, educating and providing a safe house where the children could come and get help. It was a struggling process over many years and “the Teacher” lost his life before he could see the full success of his program. Today I am part of this group and can feel the love he left behind. This is just one of 5 places we traveled to.

Every day we were traveling to different orphanages. In the afternoon we often visited the famous “Cu Chi”area, where a lot of tourists come, to see the tunnels that were built during the Vietnam war. This is an area that was highly sprayed by Agent Orange, that unfortunately left a dark shadow behind throughout the country.
In Vietnam I get educated many kids are still born with disabilities generations after the war, and nobody knows when this will end. I feel like a heavy stone is in my chest. I wasn’t expecting this. Wasn’t the war over 40 years ago? And it still has an effect? Agent Orange caused genetic damage that is still being seen.

I don’t know how to describe the work with the kids…. It was everything from fun and laughter to sadness, helplessness. I watched the kids having seizures, contractions, emotional meltdowns, and then suddenly I got rewarded with a smile and it made my heart feel good, and I knew that
it was all worth it, all the hassling around i had to do to get over here.   P1070868
I loved every minute of it, the ups and the downs.We  were all very focused to bring some good energy and laughter to these kids, each of us in in their own way.
It was  a humbling experience and let’s me appreciate life even more, just simple things like walking outside feeling the rain, which most of the kids can never do. Wow! I feel so blessed. Will I complain ever again? I don’t think so….

One thing that stuck in my mind were the Vietnamese people who were asking us, where we were from, and who were so astounded that a group of people from all over the world (Japan, China, Germany, Australia, USA) would come together and make the effort to travel to their country to volunteer. It brought genuine smiles to their faces and I could feel it made them feel important, that somebody cared about them and the kids.

With gratitude,


If you want to support me with this work:

1. Come in for a massage
2. Donate online 

3. Donate to Buds to Blossoms by check and mail it to:
Art of Touch
6401 Fairmount Ave #9
El Cerrito, Ca 94530
if you send a check please include my name
Karin Wieland in the memo field, so your donation is credited to my fundraiser.