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Returning to Go Thau Preschool two years on

In 2011, 18 passionate Australians embarked on a physical and fundraising challenge, the Vietnam Trek for Toddlers, to help fund the construction of a much-needed new preschool in the remote village of Go Thau in Vietnam. In June I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Go Thau preschool again as part of the Vietnam Cultural Discovery Tour. It was amazing to see how much had changed for these children in just two years.

When we arrived at Go Thau we could see the gate in the distance – the gate alone was taller and grander than the old buffalo shed, which was previously used as the community`s preschool.

I approached the school with Wendy and Marisa (pictured above), our Vietnam Trekkers who had returned to see first-hand how their support has helped this small rural community. Wendy refused a pre-visit interview as she was so emotional about it, she knew she would just cry.

Just like our last visit the kids lined the entrance, waving to welcome us. We met them with high fives, handshakes, smiles and tears from our trekkers! It was amazing and emotional for all.

At the end of the rows of children who greeted us, we turned to see this huge preschool before us. We were speechless, it`s so much bigger in real life than in any of the photos we had been sent. For us trekkers this was definitely the icing on the cake from what was a difficult challenge we had undertaken two years ago.

The front yard of the preschool was filled with teachers, parents and children. We were delighted to see so many people keen to welcome us back.

Wendy and I took ourselves on a tour, although it felt like more of a snoop than anything else. The kitchen was simple but clean and already very much in use. It was well ventilated too, which was great to see, since in this area families are used to having smoky kitchens inside their homes with nowhere for the smoke to escape.

The classroom for the older kids had small desks and chairs, and the room for the youngest kids even had its own bathroom so the teacher didn’t have to leave the room if one of the kids needed to use the restroom.

All of the classrooms were colourfully decorated with artworks the children had done. Each classroom also had sleeping mats and cupboards that were filled with toys, equipment and games. Wendy and I were amazed at the facilities.

One of the teachers approached Marisa with a photo of her taken when we visited what was then the buffalo-shed school two years ago. Another teary moment for the team!

We then had some time to play and sing with the kids, and had lots of fun learning local games. Our Aussie group then returned the favour by teaching the kids and teachers the chicken dance!

The children, teachers and parents made our day with their laughter and big smiles but somehow I think we made their day too.

Thank you to all the Vietnam trekkers who raised over $74,000 to help construct and equip Go Thau preschool. You have given these children a better start to life as of now!


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