Adventures in Asia

Hello, my name is Helena Dahlin and I was born and raised in Sweden (Norrköping). 
My earliest memories of Rotary Club / Inner Wheel began at the early age of 4 or 5 years old.
Both of my parents were very active and maintained leadership in both of their clubs. It all started with "Round Table" and "Ladies Circle".

  

Me as a happy 3 year old girl & Me today

They then continued their membership through Rotary and Inner Wheel. My earliest memories from that time were how dedicated and involved both of my parents were, especially in supporting and helping others with their lives. It might not be such a shock since my father was a DA and my mother was a clothing designer but also a teacher.
They were both a big inspiration early on in my life, so it has been a natural path for me to follow throughout the years.


Skiing in Sweden - 5 years old

My own interest and involvement as a leader began at the early age of 15 when I was in high school and I was competing in several different elite sport teams, such as golf, tennis and downhill skiing.
During my High School and University years, I completed several leadership and coaching classes in these sports.
The most valuable leadership experience I had was coaching for the Swedish Junior team in downhill skiing under a shorter period of time.
During my spare time I also worked with children in some outdoor life activities as a leader.
My involvement with elite sports taught me many things about life. It was a time of my life that I am very proud of, and often look back to.
I created long lasting friendships, built team working skills, discipline and independence.
My career choice later on in life was therefore not so difficult to choose. To work with children and teens has been a wonderful experience. It is amazing to be working with the future generation; it is very inspiring and exciting!


Honeymoon in the Seychelles - 1990

I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel early on in life since my family was very interested in exploring new places and cultures. We traveled mainly through Europe at that time. However, when my husband Hans and I met each other 30 years ago, we combined our interest for traveling. We started our adventures in southern part of Europe and continued on with our honeymoon in Kenya and Seychelles. That trip opened the door to the real adventures!
After our children were born we then took them along on several backpacking trips through Southeast Asia, the first one completed in 1999 and lasted for five weeks.


Ready to take off for our biggest
backpacking trip to Asia – 2001

I have always had a big passion and interest in international and charity work. During our 2nd trip to Southeast Asia in 2001, I started an international school project, which I collaborated with one school in Singapore (OFS), one school in Bangkok and another school in Kota Kinabalu in Borneo (KIS).
The goal of visiting these schools in Malaysia/Borneo, Thailand and Singapore was to visit students and teachers in their life situation, and set up a network for long-term and improved contacts between the school communities. The contacts were made especially with children and school employees from Kindergarten to Elementary school in the above mentioned countries. Some of the benefits of this experience were that we could all learn from one another.

Our children, Sara who was then 8 years old, and Matilda who was 10, were our experimenters in this school project for 5 days. 
They followed the regular school schedule in each of the classes they visited. Matilda and Sara were placed in the same grade as they were in Sweden, and had the opportunity to experience how schooling was in a different country.


Canopy Walkway - Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo

We experienced gratitude, kindness, discipline, and happiness across the board from both children and adults. Everyone came together as a community, and no one seemed left out.
Everyone was a citizen of different countries across the globe, so no one had the advantage of being "local". They were all on the same level and each showed great respect and acceptance of one another.
It is interesting to witness how much one learns from one another through different cultures, traditions, languages and religions. I believe this is a great aspect of the international schools we came in contact with, because they will learn multi-cultural information that they can then transfer back to their homeland. The academics are fast paced and quite difficult, however the students were motivated and enjoyed the environment with their classmates. 
An outcome from this was also that we helped a high school in our community to send several students to Borneo, over several years, to work with the teachers that we had started a contact with. This collaboration was a huge success.

Following is a video clip from our Asia trip in 2001, when we visited Thailand, Malaysia/Borneo (Sabah), Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam. This time we were travelling for ten weeks.
The clip includes:

  • School visit in Bangkok
  • Hiking at Mount Kinabalu in Sabah Borneo (South East Asia´s highest mountain – 4100m or 13,450 ft)
  • Visit at the Sepilok Orangutang Rehabilitation Center in Sabah – Borneo.

  • Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Floating village in Siem Reap
  • Various temples in Siem Reap

Adventures in Asia: 22:13 min:

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When we travelled in Asia we saw a lot of children that were poor and abandoned.
Therefore, when we came back from our second trip (2001) we decided to support SOS Children Villages.
SOS Children is a global charity and has been active for over 60 years. They are supporting children, families and their communities. 
If a child can no longer live with their family, they provide long-time care in an SOS Children Village. They also provide quality education and healthcare in these communities.


In 2002 we decided to go back to Vietnam for six weeks and take a trip to Hanoi to visit Anh.We applied and got to support Anh, who were living in an SOS Children Village outside Hanoi in Vietnam (in Mai Dich). Anh was the same age as our daughters. 
Anh did not have any parents and her grandparents were too old and sick to take care of her.
She lived in a house together with 8-9 other children in the Children village.
They had a "house mom" that lived with them in the house. 
The support from the givers comes from a monthly fee that will go to the Children Village.
At special occasions you can also send money that will go directly to your Goddaughter's or Godson's account. 
We sponsored Anh and the Children Village for ten years until she turned 20 and moved out from the village.

Here is a short video clip from that visit: 3:28 min:

 

To be continued...next week - Emigration from Sweden to USA and Rotary project in Sri Lanka (June 2014)…and more…!

Regards,
Your fellow Rotarian, Helena Dahlin

 
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