Running Out Of Paint

Story by Ivy Lin 

The grade 9 students went to Hoi An, Vietnam for the annual Week Without Walls trip. During those days, we helped a community in a small remote village called the Dong Binh Village. We had to go to that village by boats and it took us approximately an hour to get there. One day during that trip, we had to paint a house for an elderly woman. Her house was not painted at all when we went there. We brought the paint with us and we began painting. After 1 or 2 hours, we realised that we had ran out of paint and her house was not completely painted.

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We had 2 cans of paint that were bought from the town in Hoi An, and it was in the guide’s backpack all the time. A can of paint cost around USD130. Normally, to paint a house like that will only require one can of paint. We thought we had enough paint to paint the whole house because in our minds we thought that if we ran out of paint, we can easily walk down the street and buy another.

But little did we know that our lives and the environments are completely different from theirs. There is no way they can buy a can of paint just by going down the street. They need to take the same route as we did and go to the town of Hoi An to get more paint.

Also, the mat makers in the village makes 2 mats per day and they would sell it for USD2-3. That’s less than what most of us would get for our daily allowance. They would take the mat makers around 43 – 65 days just to buy a can of paint. But our school gave extra money to the villagers to get more paint and finish painting the house.

At the end of that day, the thought that came into my mind was to appreciate what I have, because if their lives were compared to our lives, our lives are so much easier. The boys and girls in that village don’t have a life like us. We have easy access to almost everything but they don’t. They might want to study in a big school and live in a nice city but they don’t have a chance yet. But as we walked around the village, we saw beautiful smiles on their faces instead of frowns or hear complains about their lives. For them, they are blessed to be who they are and to have what they have. For us, we know what we have isn’t enough. Instead of appreciating what we have, we want more and we don’t have the same smile as the people we saw in the village.

If you think that your life is miserable because of what you don’t have, think again… So many people in the world are less fortunate than you. Most of us learned to appreciate what we have and I think you should too.

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Photo credit: Grace McCubbin

2 thoughts on “Running Out Of Paint

Add yours

  1. Hello Ivy Lin. I don’t know you, but I really appreciate your story, as well as your reminder to appreciate what we have. Thanks for informing the ISS community about your experience in Dong Binh Village.


  2. This is the most important lesson anyone – no matter their cultural or economic background – has to learn, and that is to be happy with what life offers them everyday. It is not always easy to do this, especially when the people around us are complaining about small and petty things and tend to suck us into that cycle. I am so glad you got to experience the magic of living in the moment and seeing life as a gift while you were in Vietnam! Maybe the next time you are stressed at school, you can look around you at the gorgeous trees on our campus, or remember one of the smiles from Hoi An, and that will make you feel better:)


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