When you let your camera loose in an orphanage…

Mar 11, 2016 | Stories

Disclaimers:
This post is image heavy. It’s personal.

I’m not really sure what to say about these photos, or why I’m sharing them… They’re just on my mind these days and I’m thinking that maybe you’ll enjoy this small glimpse into this other world. Yes, there’s a sadness in some of these photos, a disconnect and a world of peeling paint, but this is also a family, a community and there’s some epic smiles in here.

I’m a little ‘homesick’ right now. This time two years ago, I was in Vietnam working my ass off for Mrs Hanh in her new restaurant (facebook keeps reminding me) – we were in that lull between the big opening party and the official first day of business. I’m feeling guilty because even though I said I’d be back to visit there this year, I still don’t have a ticket and have no idea when I’ll be able to get one. I’ve missed out on so much there because I’ve been doing so much here. This will be my life-long dilemma… I’ve made my choices and I wouldn’t do it any other way. But you know when you haven’t been home in ages and you just really want to go home and hang out for a few days?

I’ve looked through these photos so many times and every time I do, I see something new.

Every time I went to the orphanage, I’d bring my camera. I desperately wanted to document life there but I couldn’t… I couldn’t spend my time taking photos when what I really needed to be doing was spending time with these children who I hadn’t seen in two years and just, hanging out.

So I figured the best thing to do was put my camera on automatic, show one of the kids how to use it and set it afloat. Yes, I put several hundred euro worth of camera equipment in a child’s hand and turned my back. It might seem stupid, but man, I wish I had taken a photo of them taking photos! When it was quiter (like the first group of images), whoever had the camera could just roam around. But later in the evening, when everyone was home from school, the child with the camera would have a protective bubble around him or her. A bubble of kids who were both lining up to have their turn but also making sure nothing happened to the camera so they actually got their turn.

It was loud and it was beautiful!

These are squirmy to look at, how unphotogenic am I?! The girls had just pulled out all my grey hairs and ‘done’ my hair and I was being pulled in a hundred different directions and that’s exactly what it’s like to spend time there. So many hands, so many questions, so many hugs, and some giving out too apparently…

It’s nice being the entertainment for a few hours, something different; a new bag to explore, a new phone to play with, new games to play, and some old memories.

14 Comments

  1. Paul

    What a wonderful blog! thank you for sharing that you’ve lit up my evening.

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Thank you so much Paul! That means a lot. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Grace Brady

    You’re an incredible individual. It can’t have been easy to look through these photos again, given that you’re so home sick for Vietnam, let alone post them and share them with us. There is some real, untapped talent in those kids and giving them a camera worth several hundred euro gave them the chance to tap into that. It looks dishevelled with paint flaking but it also looks like there’s a lot of love and nourishment and play there and so mucn of it stemming from your presence there. If I had the money, I’d be buying you a ticket in a heartbeat. For now, know that I think you’ll definitely get out there again soon. In the meantime, you’ve given those kids and everyone at that orphanage a bank load of love to last them until your next visit. Well done lady! Awesomeness again!

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Grace! I feel you! X

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Great memories, Eadaoin. The kids are budding photographers and you look gorgeous among them. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Cam on nhieu JL, I appreciate it very much! Great memories for sure. X

      Reply
  4. kathryn Maher

    Wow! what an amazing post and photos. These are so natural and free . Images so full of life and authenticity. I love them. Well done http://www.violinkit.com

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Thank you so much Kathryn! X

      Reply
  5. Judy

    Oh the memories are always there, and also the desire and need to return, but right now, I am looking after my 2 wee g.sons in UK as you know, and then back to NZ to my other 2,
    I also look at my photos often, Tuy Hoa was so special to me, gosh I miss it so much, and seeing your snaps brings it all back.
    It would be wonderful to have a reunion one year!
    Remember our visit out to the country home in Quang Ngai and the waterfall, and the meal Mrs Leuong? cooked for us??
    All your work for the resteraunt too, amazing.
    I had 2 girlfriends go to HCMC to do some volunteer work, and one is going back again 2 more times!
    It gets into your blood stream and continues with you forever.
    Blessings to you xxxx

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Thank you Judy!
      So true, it’s under our skin now!
      You’re doing the work you’re needed for right now, and more power to you! X

      Reply
  6. Emma

    I can’t stop looking at the photogrpahs in this post Eadaoin. There’s something really magical about looking at photographs taken through the eyes of a child, nothing planned, just total freedom, love it. Thanks for sharing… maybe you need to go back and show them your blog post 🙂

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Tell me about it Emma, I’m dying to go back. And think I might have to soon.
      Thanks for checking them out. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jan Karrback

    What a coincidence. This looks like the orphanage I adopted my son from in December 2006. I never got time to write down the address and I lost track of where the orphanage is located. Could you write down the address for me please or pinpoint it on a map – or both. 🙂 I’m pretty sure my son will go back one day and pay the ophanage a visit.
    Thanks
    Jan

    Reply
    • Éadaoin

      Oh wow Jan, really?? It’s in Quang Nam province – I’ll send you an email with the full address!

      Reply

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