Did you know that Buddhist worship Buddha as a teacher and not as a god? Take a look at Hanna’s blog post and learn how a day of volunteering at Leaf Pagoda can change your life forever! Would you like to join the adventure? A day of volunteering at Leaf Pagoda…
Table of Contents
Getting on the bus
The project I participated in is called “Leaf Pagoda” from Volunteers for Peace – Vietnam. The pagoda is a beautiful quiet place where the Buddhist monks live. They have their temples and houses there and it also includes the orphanage with the children.
A typical day of volunteering at Leaf Pagoda starts at about seven thirty and after a quick breakfast in the “Peacehouse” we started our way to the bus station. We met my roommate Camille, Alix who has been working in the pagoda for a longer period of time already. At about eight o`clock we jump in the bus No. 34. And jumping is literally jumping because the bus does not stop. It just slows down a bit and some Vietnamese pulls you in very fast.
You have to get a seat as fast as you can and someone will then collect your money for a ticket. Bus riding is very adventurous but you get used to it quickly and then you feel kind of cool and fully integrated in the culture. We switch the bus once and the whole procedure reverses when someone pushes you out while driving.
A day of volunteering at Leaf Pagoda- Trying to survive
As soon as they got my name I was their new best friend and we spent a wonderful time together.
As they don’t have parents, we as volunteers become attachment figures very quickly.
How does it look like? A day of volunteering at Leaf pagoda? Normally it’s the whole day chaos and noise, chaos and noise! But they also always enjoy drawing or playing ball and balloons will make them more than happy. If you get tired you just sit on the floor and one of the cuties will climb up your lap to cuddle or to sleep on you. As a volunteer in the Leaf Pagoda you can also try to teach the kids some English and it’s best to pack it up in a song or a play otherwise you don’t stand a chance to get their attention. At about eleven it is time for lunch.
Eating with monks
The smaller children stay and we go to the lunchroom next to the temple with the older ones. It is an open area where the monks already wait and nascent monks set the tables. One of them punches a stick to a wooden plate and everyone becomes quiet.
They pray together with the old monks and you have to remain very silent. It is a kind of song and an overwhelming experience.
After that you can start eating. The food is amazing and of course, vegetarian. On some days you get lucky and one of the old monks will wave at you to signal to come over after lunch. We sat down together and he peeled some mango for us; very slowly and carefully but with lots of expertise. The best dessert I have ever had and one of the most remarkable experiences I was lucky to have.
After lunch we always lie down in one of the temples with black wooden floor. There is no one inside besides the golden Buddha statues and you have a little nap before going back to the kids. You will hear them when they awake and that is the sign to go back to playing. In the afternoon they get showered and you can help to dress the nice smelling monsters. At about four is finishing time and you kiss them goodbye until you come back the next morning.