Most people will know that this phrase comes from Little Britain- the comedy sketch show. It depicts an overtly gay welsh man who announces and proclaims his pride of being the only gay man in the village. This is not unlike my life here now as I continue to immerse myself in this boiling pot of cultural difference. I am followed with stares everywhere I go and there is a real sense of thrill in that! In that sense, I am the only gay in the village!
I have never had a fortnight like this one just passed. Stepping off the plane this time 2 weeks ago into the balmy Saigon evening and into this as yet unknown territory. My first thoughts were that things felt orderly, official yet tinged with something askew, chaotic. Waiting for my landing visa as the young, stern official struggled with the microphone, which fizzled and feed-backed. People quietly chuckled at this. The heat now really kicked in and sweat began to pour rapidly, sticking my clothes to my skin. There was no orderly queue, no instructions-just a random group of people all awaiting the green light.
Since then it has been a non stop marathon of processing, adjusting, absorbing. Without sounding too cliched or new agey-it feels like I am being reborn! Everything I have ever known has been discarded and washed away replaced by this drive to learn and breathe the life in here. Whenever I step out onto the hustle and bustle of the streets, I take in the newness of it. I walk around, smile at people, pinch a baby's face and I never cease to be amazed by the lines of people sitting, selling anything from shoes to cigarettes to fruit. All in very close proximity to the next trader. There is a real sense of community here, people look out for each other because they have to.
Last night I went to the backpackers district, which was full of westerners all huddled around smugly and professing to loving the culture here. I am pretty certain that a lot of people who choose to live amongst themselves have little perspective on the culture although I could be wrong.
My work at CNCF
I find it quite hard to convey in words what I have experienced in this short time in the job. The Chistina Noble Children's Foundation has the most exceptionally dedicated team of people, which keeps the wheels in constant motion. The children are beacons of hope and are to me what my work here is all about. My job as Art and Music Coordinator is a very privileged position. I get to work first hand with the kids, forging bonds with them and seeing where their many creative talents lie. These kids work harder than your average Joe soap at home. They work long hours making as much money as they can to help their families. What CNCF does is to provide them with stability in terms of nourishment, a home, love and in my project the chance to shine creatively. Meeting them yesterday for the first time, I was blown away by each and every one of them. I was greeted by them with huge smiles, all full of fun and enthusiasm. Knowing their profiles and their very impoverished backgrounds, it was amazing to meet them and see how confident they all seem. I can only put this down to the work of the foundation from the ground up they have made this possible.