The general feeling during the ride back to the centre after lunch was that of nerves, not because of the centre itself, but because all of us weren’t sure we were ready to leave. Like usual we were greeted warmly as we arrived, then told where we would be heading for the first part of the afternoon.After settling into our rooms, Tash and I were with the toddlers, we gathered all the kiddies and took them to the arts and music room for… A DANCE PARTY! The music was loud and everyone was excited. With all the excitement and dancing, for a moment I forgot that this was my last afternoon at the centre. Suddenly the chicken dance song came on and it was chaos. This was my jam. With a little one in my arm and a few kids at my side I chicken danced for a solid 6 minutes (the song was played two or three times, I’m sure). The atmosphere in the room was incredible, to see so many wide smiles, even just to see some of the kids out of their rooms, was incredible. I feel so blessed to have witnessed something so awesome. But it wasn’t over yet. I’m told that as a goodbye present we will be performing ‘Gangnam style’. Uh oh. Everyone piles onto the stage and lines up, tense with excitement and ready to jam out the routine. Karaoke had prepared us for this moment. As soon as the familiar song comes on we all start dancing, this continued for a while, once again the song was played two times. By the end of the second song I’m dripping with sweat and smiling from head to toe. Unfortunately this was the end of the party though. Soon enough we were leading all the kids back to their rooms for a final goodbye. I had been dreading this part of the trip all week. Before leaving we help the volunteers and workers for feeding time once more. When all the duties have been done I make my rounds around the room saying bye to every little boy and girl there. With tear filled eyes I head into the room and say goodbye to those already in their beds and cots. It’s hard knowing they don’t really understand where you are coming from, but give you all the love in the world regardless. I embrace each and every child in there, a few of them clinging to me and making it all that more hard to let go. I don’t want to leave. I set the little girl I’m hugging down and briskly walk away, wanting to avoid any crying I may hear. I head back to the bus, taking in the scenes of the centre one last time. Once again I am in tears, saying goodbye to all of the amazing boys and girls that we had formed such incredible connections with in such a short time. The bus ride felt long. I know that once day I will go back to the centre, but it doesn’t make leaving it this time any easier. This afternoon was truly bittersweet, filled with so much fun and joy but also sadness. We all decide to have a chilled night back at the hotel, prepping for our journey home. I feel honoured to have been a part of such a cool thing, even if it was for only just a short while. I went into this trip assuming I would be making a huge difference in these kid’s lives, and it’s possible that I did, but also a little naïve. I know now that it was without a doubt those kids that changed my life, every one of their smiles, every hand I held, all filled me with a passion to do so much more than I am now and with a passion to educate myself on topics I may not have considered necessary before this trip. For this I am forever grateful… to the kids, to Terry and Hoai, to VIVPS and to Cat, Caitie and GVN.
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