While rock climbers worldwide dream of rockclimbing in Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh, most Vietnamese remain unaware of the sport.
Climbing wall (Photo: Claire Grigaut)
Tac Ke, the brainchild of Marc Charbit and Jean Verly, is a project to construct indoor climbing walls in orphanages. It’s part of a larger plan to develop the sport in Vietnam.
Jean had been climbing for years when he arrived in Vietnam. But with nowhere to train, he decided to construct a small climbing gym at his home. Their idea for the project started when he and his housemate, Marc, started inviting others to their house to join in. They began to notice a keeness for the sport among Vietnamese.
One of their first projects was a climbing wall at Nguyen Viet Xuan orphanage in Cau Giay District, where 131 children have benefited from their efforts to share their passion for the sport. The children now get two hours of supervised climbing each day.
“I didn’t know a thing about charity projects. I had to start right at the beginning,” said Marc, who has been living in Vietnam for over four years. Thankfully the staff at Nguyen Viet Xuan were open to the idea of Tac Ke, which means “gecko” in Vietnamese. “They are good hearted people,” said Marc. “They were very open to this activity, even though they didn’t know what climbing was.”
Still, even after building a wall for disadvantaged kids, he remains quite humble. “The hardest thing was to put the funding application together. It took me about a year. I’m sure other people would have taken less time. I wasn’t very good at it,” he said.
The financial backing was eventually secured with help from the French Embassy, through US organisation Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam. Jean donated the climbing holds from the gym in his house, and Marc arranged for five wooden panels to be constructed in an empty room at Nguyen Viet Xuan.
He also produced a financial plan that would enable more climbing walls to be built in other orphanages.The next one is due to open at the Ha Cau orphanage in Hanoi in about a month.
For the children of the Nguyen Viet Xuan orphanage the wall has been a wonderful opportunity. “This is the chance for them to try something else,” said Marc.
“I come here every day,” said 13-year-old Bui Huy Manh, who has been living in the orphanage for about a year. “It keeps me in shape.”
But seven-year-old Nguyen Ngoc Hoa doesn’t need much reason to come along to the new climbing gym at half past four each day. “I like climbing because it’s fun,” she says.
For more information or to donate to the project, visit http://vietclimb.vn or http://tackeproject.blogspot.com