Sherry Berger is from Philadelphia, this is her second volunteering trip to Vietnam for Lifestart. I struggle to find words to adequately describe Sherry, suffice to say I think she is type of volunteer that all NGO's need at least one of and I can't wait for her return.
Sherry is one of the most committed, hard working and compassionate human beings I have been fortunate enough to meet ( not too mention she is also extremely talented, super efficient, well organized and has a great sense of humour!!!). She embodies what the ideal volunteer is for me.
Sherry works selflessly, takes on her volunteering role with 100% commitment and simply "gets " what it means to volunteer in the true spirit of the word!
She gets that this is more often than not, exhausting work on all levels, physically and emotionally...but you wouldn't want to swap a minute of it.
She also gets that this is not a walk in the park or an adjunct to a holiday, that we are really focused on changing peoples lives in the most positive way we can........ and for that very reason it is such a fullfilling way to invest
" THE INSOMNIACS " Karen & Sherry
I am sure one of the reasons I adore Sherry so much, is that she is one of the few people who is mad enough to keep pace with me. We are both really driven and operate a lot of the time on very little sleep.
and I know that she understands that there is not a lot of time ( if any ) for " pats on the back"', it's a roll your sleeves up atmosphere and you just get on with what ever needs to be done at the time and there may not be any one there at the end of it to say thank you or a job well done , but you know that instinctively anyway......
Sherry obtained her bachelor's degree in Communication Arts/Illustration/Graphic Design 1996 from Moore College in Philadelphia.
Sherry began traveling in her early twenties and found that it offered a mind opening perspective of life in relation to the lives of others around the world. Since then, she has explored close to 30 different countries around the world, immersing herself in their cultures and customs, many of which lack the freedom of artistic creation and expression. The realization to have had so many opportunities in life, like that of an art education, continues to be the driving force behind her motivation.
Spending summers in her home town of Philadelphia, Sherry works as a graphic designer and art/charity fundraiser for the (no
SHERRY AND THU
Sherry and Thu ( one of Sherry's former English students) pictured at my birthday party.
name) Art Group. Her winter months are spent volunteering abroad and teaching art/English to children in underprivileged areas.
Sherry has been planning a return volunteering trip to Vietnam for some time and our plans for her "2008 Lifestart project " have also been brewing excitedly.
I asked Sherry if she would head up an artistic team which would work with a group of our disabled women. Our hopes and dreams for this womens workshop will feature in a future blog.
Sherry has been instrumental in the success of this workshop and for that I am eternally grateful.
I thought I would give you a glimpse at an extract from Sherry's journal.........just to give you an overview of what a week in the life of a Lifestart volunteer can entail!!!
"From the moment I landed in Danang, it's been an emotional roller coaster. Excited from the high of being reunited with the familiar faces I fell in love with 2 years ago, and heartbroken from the raw, unedited, continuing struggles of poverty, neglect, and disabilities - all reasons that bring me back here today. Before I start on specific stories, I thought an overview would
SHERRY & GHI
Ghi was Sherry's driver and translator in April. He is now living in Australia and about to commence his traineeship with Mariana Hardwick.
be appropriate. And because I’m finding it difficult...OK, impossible... to write a neat and tidy paragraph that sums up this past week, here are the notes from my daily planner, as is. Giving a bit of an idea for those who ask, “So, what are you doing in Vietnam?”
A WEEK IN REVIEW..............
Thursday, March 20th (Karen’s birthday): Arrive 8:45PM Danang Airport
Friday AM Clinic (Dr. Josh/John): Meet with Vinh, President of disabled group
Discuss 3 wheel motorbikes for disabled, and how to design a motorbike with a side car for a wheel chair for Tung (paraplegic)
Greg write proposal to Honda to donate bikes
Devise contract for disabled that they do not sell their bike
Discuss artist workshop (11 disabled women- ranging from polio to cerebral palsy), Start Monday, figure out a lifter/carrier for toilets how long they can sit for, where to sit, floor/tables, wheelchairs, buy mats for resting, build ramp for stairs, assess any skills they may already have (embroidery, sewing)
Research renting land to farm animals (how much land, how much space needed for goats, pigs, chickens)
Motorbike to visit Tung (different materials for making baskets besides plastic
...and yes there is a boy in the " womens "class!! That is my eldest son who was there to help with lifting and translating, but he loved the class so much he joined in every day!
Karen’s birthday party, Saturday night! Happy Birthday Karen
See new LIFESTART house; 3 floors - plan spacing for new Lifestart clinic/offices/classes/workshops
Motorbike out to meet Hoa, 21 years hold, motorbike accident one year ago, no movement from neck down. Dr. John & Dr Josh assessing situation, weekly infections possible from unclean catheters...what type of catheter is best, what is available, who is looking out for him, where is money coming from?
Memory Portraits, stories/photos, which members to choose?
1PM see new school! Assess materials/spacing for workshop
Workshop schedule: 1-5pm
Teach kids: 5:30-6:30pm
Teach Sinh (artist) how to take good photographs of his work, Photoshop tutorial for color corrections, design basic website for promotion, contact Dave (Lifestart webmaster)
Motorbike to meet Nhat (VP of disabled group) Discuss further details for workshop reed mats, snacks (fruits, biscuits - cost per day, use Lou’s donation money from ECRI)
Donation from Carmel: $100AUD, to use for workshop. Keep records of donations/costs
Get samples of products already sold in gift shops (note cards, bags, bookmarks, coasters, vases, etc.)
Research materials available in Vietnam/Hoi An, Danang, Hanoi, Saigon (sewing, papers, etc.) and
THE DISABLED WOMENS WORKSHOP
" aka " THE SWEETHEART GROUP......
Design stamp for Miriam’s contracts/paperwork for office
Design business card/menu for Gai and manicure/pedicure services
Thanh’s engagement party (get card, collect money from volunteers), boat out to island
Volunteers - collect old magazines for scraps
Ghi - get silk scraps from tailor
Karaoke with the kids
Lunch at Pagoda with Buddhist nuns, Monday 11AM
Research polio/cerebral palsy: abilities/limitations?
Visit Hiep (organic herb farm)
That was a glimpse at one of Sherry's weeks.......... which in turn may give you a bit of an idea what a week in my life is like in Vietnam!
Sherry and I both worked right up to the minute we said goodbye so I am not sure that I adequately said " A THOUSAND THANK YOU'S " for all of your help, time and love that you so generously gave to all involved with Lifestart.
Lots of Love from Karen.
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