Marty Thornhill

Asia

Image 8Vietnam MapI was both excited and nervous about giving out the reading glasses.  We were going to some remote areas of Vietnam and Cambodia, and was nervous about communicating, and how we would be perceived.  I took 20 pairs of glasses with me, with the intention of giving some out in both countries.  I told our guide, Nam, that I hoped we would see some older women trying to do needlework, and hoped he would be able to help me communicate with them.  We were near Mai Chau, which is a small town about a 4 hour drive southwest of Hanoi, in an ethnic village of White Thai people called Ban Pom Coong.  Our luggage was in the car because we hadn’t checked into our hotel yet, and that’s where most of the glasses were, but I had about 6 pairs in my backpack.

We were walking through the village, and we saw a woman sitting on the ground doing some needlework, and I asked Nam to approach her.  I gave her a pair to try, and before I knew it, we were swarmed by people.  We had to go back to the car and get the rest of them, and I ended up giving them all out right there.  As we continued to walk through the village, I saw several people with their glasses on (some still with the tag hanging on), and they would smile and bow or wave to me.  As we were getting into the car, I looked into the house/workshop next to us, and I woman was working on her loom, wearing her new glasses.  (I took a video of her, but it turned out dark).

This was a very rewarding experience, and one I would recommend to anyone traveling to remote areas.

Thanks for the experience.

Marty Thornhill
Richmond, Virginia