Despite not understanding what he says, by observing his movements and gesticulations, the disabled children at Hope’s Center in central Hue Town learn how to make various shapes.
Looking at their creations, Frenchman Oliver Oet, 63, smiles and whistles cheerfully. He came to teach the Japanese pottery technique to the children eight years ago.
It began when, 10 years ago in Paris, France, he met Hien who used to work at Hope’s Center. After learning about the disadvantaged background of the children there, he decided to visit the place to see for himself.
Oliver guides disabled children in Hope’s Center the art of Raku Pottery making. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
He spent more than VND100 million ($4,300) to build workshops, buy equipment and teach the children Raku in the hope they can support themselves.
He says: “I want to help disabled people in this center feel proud of themselves. The core idea of the project is to help them earn a living and gradually boost their self-esteem.”
Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, in the last eight years he has managed to inculcate love for and skill in pottery making. Many of the children’s pottery works are showcased and sold to center visitors.
Raku pottery products created by disabled children at the center. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
Oet also helps introduce the children’s products to the market. Every year he visits Hue to buy products from the center to take to France. All the profits are invested back into Hope’s Center.
“After eight years I feel that my endeavors can bring happiness to the disabled children here and I want to devote all my clay and pottery skills and knowledge to helping them master the craft,” he says.
Nguyen Van Hau, 25, has now become a skilled craftsman and has become a trainer for the other children whenever Oet is away in France.
He says: “Thanks to teacher Oliver, my friends and I at the center can turn clay into vivid products such as bowls and buffalos. Learning from him has helped me explore new things.”
Oliver demonstrates processes of pottery making to students. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
Nguyen Thi Hong, the manager of Hope’s Center, says Oet comes every year to train them and thanks to him, many autistic and disabled children at the center have become much more happy.
“He brings so much to Hope’s Center. Besides training the children, he has helped the center organize pottery making sessions for visitors and through that earn more income.”
The Frenchman says he will continue to come to Hue and “continue the work as long as his health still permits.”