In December 2016, SeriousFun Children’s Network held its first Asia Regional meeting, bringing together the colleagues from our Global Partnership Program (GPP) in India, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Hosted in Bangalore, India, we welcomed 14 GPP representatives, as well as some experts from SeriousFun’s Support Center, camps, and programs.
The purpose of the meeting was to facilitate a sharing of knowledge, experiences, and ideas amongst this regional group – something that is, in itself, a relatively simple idea that can have huge impact, just like so many of the elements and activities of our programs around the world.
Resource Limited, Knowledge Rich
In October 2016, Ms. Thuy, the Country Director of our partner Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) in Vietnam, attended a conference hosted by the Asia Oceania Camping Congress and brought a wealth of new information and knowledge back to Camp Colors of Love, our GPP program in Vietnam. In turn, Quyen and Dien, camp leaders from Camp Colors of Love, shared new “low prop, no prop” activities at our Asia Regional Meeting. They introduced and explained the concept to conference attendees, sharing photos and descriptions of the Camp Colors of Love team piloting low cost activities at a free site – a public park in Ho Chi Minh City.
From three camp leaders in Vietnam, the concept and practical examples of low prop and low cost activities has now spread to five SeriousFun Global Partnership Programs and five other NGOs!
Sharing the Work, Sharing the Rewards
One month before the Asia Regional Meeting, each participant was sent one to two tasks that they were responsible to prepare and share at the meeting. Tasks ranged from facilitating a mock Staff Training session, to participating in a panel, to playing the lead character in a new camp evening program, “The Greatest Musical Performance.” Our friend Yong from Camp Lotus in Cambodia inspired us with his acting skills, exemplifying resilience and courage through his character. Giving each individual an opportunity to contribute allowed participants to learn something new about themselves, and it allowed the audience to see or hear a different perspective.
Celebrating Each Other
To celebrate our 2016 Asia Regional Meeting host country, India, we asked a favor of the camp leaders from the three India-based Camp Rainbow programs: Can you lead an “Incredible India” Evening Program that shares the culture and traditions of your country? Each Camp Rainbow team member contributed to this effort – preparing local treats like laddos and sweet nimkis; dancing the Oyilattam, a traditional folk dance of Tamil Nadu; and adorning regional attire and jewelry from as far as Nagaland in the North and Madurai in the South. The result of this evening? An even more connected team of camp leaders in India who collaborated to create a beautiful, educational, and energizing night for their international colleagues, and a better understanding and appreciation for the Indian culture amongst all of our partners. If ever there is a time that our world needs cultural understanding and appreciation, it is now.
As the meeting came to a close, we all reflected on what brought us together and what the future holds for us each individually and as partners. Mr. Vuthy of Camp Lotus expressed a statement that keeps him inspired and I think we can all agree: “It is common to find people who do great work, but it’s difficult to find people who do work with real passion.” We sincerely thank our partners from New Hope for Cambodian Children in Phnom Penh, Y.R. Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education in Chennai, ASHA Foundation in Bangalore, Reaching the Unreached in Batlagundu, and Worldwide Orphans Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City for bringing SeriousFun to life in Cambodia, Vietnam, and India.