Social work overseas


Met with my aunt and uncle yesterday to discuss our travel plans to Vietnam this summer. How exciting?!  My uncle is Vietnamese so I will have the chance to meet his family and see the country.  I am also planning some social/emotional activities for orphanages while I am there.  I really wanted to somehow incorporate my mental health work in a meaningful way in the orphanages.  

My long quest to find a book to read for the children that I thought could be culturally and socially appropriate finally led me to a lovely book called The Affirmation Weaver by Lori Lite.  I wanted to find a book that could increase self esteem and an overall sense of self. Whether children are from the US in the foster care system, or in an orphanage in a third world nation, children who no longer reside with birth parents often have a sense of abandonment.  What is wrong with me that I can’t live with my parents like other kids?  Children are egocentric by nature, so children who are separated from birth parents often take this upon themselves, which is why I chose self-esteem as the topic.

I was very excited when I came across this book because it teaches children how to make positive self statements to decrease anxiety and increase self esteem.  The characters were also culturally appropriate (dolphins and a crab- since the orphanage is just minutes from the beach).  The affrimation examples are also very general, which I appreciated.  My biggest challenge in finding a book for the orphanage was finding one with culturally and socially appropriate examples in the story.  For example, I started looking for general feelings books but the examples were not relevant for these children (leaving parent when going to school, raining during a parade, opening presents on a birthday, etc.).  How much we take for granted, right!? 

I am also creating some activity pages to accompany the book and providing school/craft supplies for each child.  My uncle is going to traslate the book text so that I can leave the book there after sharing it with them (which my uncle will also translate as I am reading the story).  I am very excited for all of the planning that is to come! I will post activities as I get them more finalized and any feedback on activities that could be relevant is greatly appreciated.  More information on The Affirmation Weaver can be found at

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