Follow Ava's Adventures

NEW: Photo projects coming soon

Hi everyone,

I’m backkk!!!

After volunteering and traveling in Vietnam for several months, I spent the remainder of the year in Australia. Both were incredibly amazing experiences, and now I’m home in Seattle, working away on my photo projects, which I’m very much looking forward to sharing with you - so - please stick around to see more from my humanitarian trip!

If this is your first time visiting my site, feel free to browse around the blog, and check out all the fun adventures I had with my children from the orphanage. Start from the very beginning by clicking on “archives,” located at the top right hand corner. And it’s always a pleasure to hear from my visitors, so please drop me a line :)

Alright, now back to working on these batches of photos. Eeeekkk!!! BBS.

Love,

Ava

Last vignette story

When anonymous person contacted me saying they wired me a $5,000 donation through Western Union to implement at the orphanage, as skeptical as I was about it, I thought I shouldn’t question the person or the situation. I mean, who would have the heart to joke around about helping orphans???

Plus, I received an email notification from Western Union, telling me to pick up the money with a code that looked very similar to ones I used to accept money transfers.

That night, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. I stayed up planning how to allocate the money, including covering surgeries for 2 kids with hydrocephalus, hiring more staff members to care for the children and buying more supplies.

In the end, what sounded too good to be true, was indeed too good to be true. Unfortunately, the ‘donor’ perpetuated the fraud. When I was ready to receive the funds at a Western Union, the code turned out to be fake…

LINK TO STORY: http://bit.ly/172mLWc

One of the most painful part about my job was caring for orphans who still remembered their parents. Thao, a teenager with Downs syndrome was one of the many. A nurse told me her father abandoned her a few years ago because of her disability. He haven’t visited her since.
 READ HER STORY HERE: http://bit.ly/10oE8PP
In case you’re wondering, what’s going on in this photo, the story behind it was during naptime, I woke up to a girl crying. Trying to figure out where it was coming from, I quietly followed it. Around the corner, it was Thao sobbing to herself as she did laundry. When I walked towards her to comfort her, she wrapped her arms around me, tightly, weeping, telling me she missed her dad very much. It brought me to tears…

One of the most painful part about my job was caring for orphans who still remembered their parents. Thao, a teenager with Downs syndrome was one of the many. A nurse told me her father abandoned her a few years ago because of her disability. He haven’t visited her since.

READ HER STORY HERE: http://bit.ly/10oE8PP

In case you’re wondering, what’s going on in this photo, the story behind it was during naptime, I woke up to a girl crying. Trying to figure out where it was coming from, I quietly followed it. Around the corner, it was Thao sobbing to herself as she did laundry. When I walked towards her to comfort her, she wrapped her arms around me, tightly, weeping, telling me she missed her dad very much. It brought me to tears…

Featured in my college magazine!

Got a little shout out in one of the most popular sections of Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, where it highlights notable graduates in the community. Love it!”

AVA VAN spent March and April 2013 at an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, helping care for several hundred children who cannot be adopted out of fear they would be exploited. Her days were filled with feeding, bathing, and playing with the children. A writer and photographer, Ava as an SPU student wrote and took photos for The Falcon newspaper and interned with KING TV, where she helped to produce Evening Magazine. The former Miss Seattle Teen USA plans a career in television and resides in Seattle.”

"I went from the girl who lost everything to the girl who still has everything because of these wonderful people."  Rarely do I ever talk about my own personal matters because it’s not the easiest thing for me, but in this special interview, I do. I speak out about being adopted myself, losing the only parents I had left and what spurred me to go on a two-month volunteer trip. I hope you enjoy this short read. You might also recognize a few amazing people I mentioned.
BELOW IS THE LINK TO MY STORY
 Notes from the Orphanage: ‘Six Babies Called Me Mom’
 

"I went from the girl who lost everything to the girl who still has everything because of these wonderful people."

Rarely do I ever talk about my own personal matters because it’s not the easiest thing for me, but in this special interview, I do. I speak out about being adopted myself, losing the only parents I had left and what spurred me to go on a two-month volunteer trip. I hope you enjoy this short read. You might also recognize a few amazing people I mentioned.

BELOW IS THE LINK TO MY STORY

Notes from the Orphanage: ‘Six Babies Called Me Mom’

 

READ: Notes from the orphanage, no options for adoptions
In this new article, I disclose the horrifying tragedies and the continuous torture the orphans encounter, including rape, abduction, exploitation, abuse and neglect, many of which stems from the monks, foster moms and staff members of the orphanage.STORIES I EXAMINE: - A nurse hitting a baby’s face really hard to stop her from crying. - A teenager with downs syndrome was raped on multiple occasions. - How $100 USD feeds 155 children 3 meals a day, which usually consists instant noodles, instant porridge, baby cereal, or rice with minimal meat and veges. - Monks would rather keep the kids malnourished than healthy because giving them the proper nutrition would make them bigger, much harder to raise. - A baby was abducted. - Kids and adults tied or chained to their beds/cribs, faces no interaction unless they’re fed. - Foster mom and staff members saving donation goods for themselves when it was meant for the kids. - The children generally don’t get to see a doctor unless they look physically ill or become extremely sick. - Majority of these children don’t make it past 7th grade. - Thanh, the abandoned baby I named, was never seen by a physician even after an alarmingly swollen belly button that appeared to be filled with fluid. - The children exposed as if they’re animals. - The shock I faced each day from the trauma I saw at the orphanage.

READ: Notes from the orphanage, no options for adoptions

In this new article, I disclose the horrifying tragedies and the continuous torture the orphans encounter, including rape, abduction, exploitation, abuse and neglect, many of which stems from the monks, foster moms and staff members of the orphanage.

STORIES I EXAMINE:
- A nurse hitting a baby’s face really hard to stop her from crying.
- A teenager with downs syndrome was raped on multiple occasions.
- How $100 USD feeds 155 children 3 meals a day, which usually consists instant noodles, instant porridge, baby cereal, or rice with minimal meat and veges.
- Monks would rather keep the kids malnourished than healthy because giving them the proper nutrition would make them bigger, much harder to raise.
- A baby was abducted.
- Kids and adults tied or chained to their beds/cribs, faces no interaction unless they’re fed.
- Foster mom and staff members saving donation goods for themselves when it was meant for the kids.
- The children generally don’t get to see a doctor unless they look physically ill or become extremely sick.
- Majority of these children don’t make it past 7th grade.
- Thanh, the abandoned baby I named, was never seen by a physician even after an alarmingly swollen belly button that appeared to be filled with fluid.
- The children exposed as if they’re animals.
- The shock I faced each day from the trauma I saw at the orphanage.

Awesome! Made front page of news again.
Here’s my second story with the Renton Patch:
“Notes from the Orphanage: Enhancing relationships with gifts”

Awesome! Made front page of news again.

Here’s my second story with the Renton Patch:

Notes from the Orphanage: Enhancing relationships with gifts

My interview with the media

Last month I mentioned about upcoming reporting and photography projects I’ll work on once I get back home in the states. Well, there’s been a slight change with the plan, but I’m still getting the stories and photos I want out. Don’t worry!

1. Instead of me writing the stories - I want it to be objective as possible and I don’t think I could do this because I’m very attached to my kids - I decided to only do interviews.

2. Rather than do interviews with different media outlets about my journey, I chose to commit to one, and I went with the Renton Patch, my hometown’s online news site, also one of my fave’s.

I wanted completely share my experiences in depth, discuss my perspective on certain topics and talk about how I honestly felt - something I couldn’t really do when I was volunteering because a few of the staff members of the orphanage followed my blog. I basically wanted to show the real side of the orphanage, the side I never shared on this blog.

Luckily, the editor at the Renton Patch was very generous. She did a little special on my story by doing a series of vignettes, which would be published each week. She wanted to make sure she publishes all my stories and interview notes. It made me uber happy because that’s all I hoped to do after my trip.

So here’s the first one. It’s called, “Renton Resident Shares Love, Heartache for Children at Vietnamese Orphanage.”

I hope through my stories, it will challenge you, making you wanna cry at times and other moments, inspire you, making you smile - and possibly encourage you, to reach out to these orphans and give them the life that they deserve.

1st update

Hello everyone!

Wow, it feels so nice to be back on this blog.

OK, I have lots of exciting things to share with you guys.

First, out of hundreds of volunteers, I was featured in IVHQ’s April newsletter, the organization I went through to do my volunteer work.

I was recognized for throwing a surprise birthday party for 61 kids at the orphanage I worked at, which by the way was uber fun. Talking about it reminds me of their sweet reactions to their first cake :)

Second, since I’ve been back, I’ve been working on interviews with media outlets and editing away all my professional pics of the kids and the orphanage. I’ll post links to my stories soon.

Please stick around to see more of my work!

Xo,

Ava

UPCOMING WORK - STAY TUNED

- I’ll be featured as a guest writer, writing articles and columns for magazines and newspapers back in Seattle, WA about the orphanage, the children and my journey.

- Several of my hometown newspapers and college magazine will interview me about all my adventures and experiences at the orphanage.

- A collection of my professional photography work will be published in online newspapers and on my Ava Van Photography blog.

I’ll post links on this blog to keep you all posted.

Looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you. Hope you’ll stick around to read my work with the kids! Xo

The end of the beginning

Leaving my heart, loves, kisses and hugs to all my kids, Ky Quang Pagoda 2, and all my volunteer friends at IVHQ. Thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Love,

Ava

P.S. Be back soon :) Get ready for chapter 2, my friends!

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The beautiful pagoda.

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The gang.

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"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

John 14:18

Love this note from a high school friend of mine

Hey!! How have you been?

Just wanted to congratulate you for all your work, honestly you are one of the most sincere kind-hearted people I know and I know a lot of people appreciate what you are doing. We need more people like you in this world to set a good example.

Hope all is well take care!! :D

- Jessica Tovar

Last day at the orphanage

I think I’m gonna cry….
It’s 1:40 a.m. in Vietnam right now, and as exhausted as I am, I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, especially after looking through these pictures as I was blogging tonight. Can’t believe tomorrow is my last day volunteering at the orphanage…I’m going to miss my kids so much…

It’s 1:40 a.m. in Vietnam right now, and as exhausted as I am, I don’t think I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, especially after looking through these pictures as I was blogging tonight. Can’t believe tomorrow is my last day volunteering at the orphanage…I’m going to miss my kids so much…

Sugar influencer

What I’m best at ;)

Bought two boxes of pastries for the kids and staff members during my lunch break.