Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thank You USS Peleliu!!

Last month, the Children of Vietnam got a very big surprise--a donation of goods valued at $20,000 from the USS Peleliu of our US Navy!

In mid-July, one of our board members, Nancy Letteri, was in Danang, Vietnam working hard on a grant for COV when she and Dannia Southerland, another COV consultant, met a navy team from the US navy ship, USS Peleliu. The USS Peleliu was in Southeast Asia as part of its 2007 Pacific Partnership mission. After talking with Nancy and Dannia, they met the Danang staff and were so impressed with COV's work that they wanted to donate 6 large crates filled with toys, medical supplies, sewing machines and fabric!

Mrs. Huong, our wonderful program director in Danang, along with our diligent Danang staff, worked hard negotiating with Danang Customs and managed to get all of the donations quickly cleared through customs --an amazing feat in itself! Thank you staff!

The USS Peleliu was so impressed that they invited COV's Danang staff aboard the USS Peleliu for a ship tour and reception also attended by the Chairman of Danang People's Committee and other dignitaries.
Here are some pictures of their wonderful afternoon aboard the USS Peleliu...

After COV's exciting visit aboard the USS Peleliu, Ben Wilson, COV President, received the following email from Lt. Kent Hepler of the USS Peleliu...

"Mr. Wilson,

I want to begin by saying that it has truly been an honor to work with your team here in Danang!

Ms. Huong and the rest of the Children of Vietnam team in Danang are remarkable people! I was impressed with the organization instantly and that sentiment has only continued to grow. When we originally met with Ms. Huong, we were of the understanding that the government had cleared all of the donations through customs; she would only need to accept the gear. However, the day prior to the ship's arrival, we found out that there was a completely different customs requirement necessary for donations to NGO's. Ms. Huong immediately shifted gears, began coordinating with all governmental agencies here, and clearly relayed all of the requirements necessary. Without Ms. Huong's assistance, there is no way we would have been able to complete the paperwork necessary to deliver the gear prior to the ship departing. After Ms. Huong spent countless hours with Vietnam customs, we were able to deliver the materials. The ceremony yesterday was a very memorable time for all of us!

I noticed that you are located in Winston-Salem. I lived in Asheboro, NC for a few years and still have many friends in the region. If it is okay with you, I would like to meet sometime and learn more about your organization. Of all organizations I worked with in Danang, Children of Vietnam is by far the organization that impressed me the most!!

I look forward to hearing from you again and can not stress enough how impressed I was with your organization here. The team in Danang truly "gets it" and it is evident how much they are focused on improving the lives of those in need.


LT Kent Hepler"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Come Support Children of Vietnam!

Please come out to Ten Thousand Villages
and support Children of Vietnam!

On Thursday, May 10th, the Ten Thousand Villages store in Greensboro, NC will be supporting Children of Vietnam. 15% of all proceeds from sales between 6 pm and 8 pm will go to COV to support our wonderful programs. Please come out and join us! You can buy some wonderful third world handicrafts and support COV at the same time!

For more information or store directions, please check out Ten Thousand Villages.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Controlled and Happy Chaos - Hoi An Orphanage

Hoi An Orphanage was one of the last outings we made before some of our group headed back to the United States. It was controlled chaos as 51 pairs of brand new sandals were distributed to these children. The orphanage director explained that the children had never received shoes all at the same time. In the past, they had received donations of only 5 or 6 shoes at a time.

Tam Ky Newborn Orphanage

We were fortunate to visit Tam Ky Newborn Orphanage a second time during our trip. The pictures below are just some of the infants we delighted in visiting and seeing how well they are doing. COV provides milk, food, and vitamins for these precious children.

Bicycles Keep Children in School

Donors Jack and Jerry raised funds, through their church, to buy bicycles for these great kids -- many must travel 5 to 8 kilometers one way to get to school in 90-degree heat. Helping these children get to and from school quicker makes a great impact in keeping them in school longer.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Vocational School Dormitory Dedication

We were happy to have our donors Suzanne and Bud present for the dedication of the new vocational school dormitory in DaNang. This dormitory, which they funded, will house 12 street children who have completed their vocational training and need safe housing as they enter the workforce. It was wonderful, filled with joyful emotion.

One of the first resident spoke to the audience about how important this housing is to his life and to personnally thank the donors. This handicapped young man, Hung, was orphaned at age 12. In his own words, he told us he had contemplated suicide by jumping in a river, because he had no hope for his future. He said, "As you can see I am a disabled boy, but I will try my best and now I have a job. I work at hairshop. My income is $98 a month. I wish the last part of this dormitory be built so more children can live here."

The goal of Children of Vietnam is to raise additional funds of $45,000 to complete three more wings to this dormatory and ultimately provide needed housing for 48 youth starting a new life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Education is the Key to a Brighter Future

University Scholarships

On Monday, education was the theme. We were invited by the People’s Committee to formally meet with students who are receiving scholarships from Children of Vietnam. It was thrilling to meet the young people, but even more moving for the students to meet the family who is funding their education. Some of the stories were so very moving.

One young lady tearfully explained how her mother was so happy when she passed the university exam. Their joy quickly turned to sadness when they realized that there was no way they could fund her education. The mother first sold the family’s only pig to provide clothing for her daughter and left the rest to fate. COV was the blessing they were looking for.

Children of Vietnam is funding 47 university students this year, thanks to the generosity of our donors. When we see the conditions these children live with, it is hard to imagine how they succeed. It is through hard work and commitment. What a joy

Mang Non Kindergarten, Hai Chau District
The kindergarten teacher had just gotten them settled for a late morning nap but when we arrived a nap was out of the question! This little people are full of swagger! They laughed and giggled, hugging pushing, each wanting their picture taken. This kindergarten was built with the funds of a generous single donor. It provides all day enriching care from 7:00am to 5:00pm with four meals for poor children who come from very poor families.

Tutoring for Street Children
In the evening, we visited the DaNang Street Children Tutoring Program. Children of all ages are tutored in small groups in algebra, trigonometry, English, and other subjects. Younger children practice math and language skills. COV is funding this program, which includes a meal – a big draw for the children. Many of the children live in a dormitory setting, while others live with family members in poor situations.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vietnamese Countryside

Saturday was a free day for us and we toured the countryside and visited the ancient Cham city of My Son. We wanted to share our pictures with all our bloggers.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Vietnamese Athletic Club

Early each morning (5 am) the people of DaNang are up walking, jumping, and stretching. One of our team, Dawn, was asked to join a group of wonderful Vietnamese women on one of her morning walks. She invited the rest of us to join them. What a blast. In Vietnam there is no need to join a health club, all the streets are one huge gym!

Traveling to Tam Ky

When we think of orphans we think of children without parents. That can also be the situation in Vietnam, but often babies and children are dropped off at orphanges and street children programs by the parents because of poverty, like the one in Tam Ky, a rural town south of DaNang.

Thursday, our hearts were stolen by the children at Tam Ky orphanage and Tam Ky Street Children Program. One of the most moving moments was meeting Nga,a beautiful 19 year old deaf girl. Children of Vietnam will be bringing her to DaNang, where she will join other young deaf adults at the Bread of Life. We will have her hearing evaluated and determine further opportunities for her education.

Christmas in March

This year our visitors June and Jack decided to give bicycles to their children and grandchildren for Christmas. The bikes, however, were to be delivered on the other side of the world to children they had never met. Thursday those 23 presents were exchanged in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The faces of the children of Vietnam

Kids at the DaNang Orthopedic Hospital

We had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Cuc, Director of the DaNang Orthopedic Hospital and his Chief Surgeon. After explaining their needs to us, we were treated to a tour of the facility. The children of Vietnam seem to have a high incidence of limb deformities. These are surgically corrected through contributions of our donors. The children sleep on maps suspended from a metal frame. Parents that stay with them often sleep under their beds, as there are no facilities in the hospital to accommodate caregivers. One of the dreams of COV is to build a compassion house for families with sick children.

Seeing so many children with these deformities is difficult but they are all sweet and charming. One young girl stole are hearts particularly. Vinh, a quite soft spoken girl of 19, she was 7 years old when she was in a motor cycle accident that resulted in the lose of both lower portions of her legs. She could not walk until she was identified at the Tam Ky Street Program by COV staff as a candidate prosthetics. She is now walking. Although she has only completed 9th grade she dreams of studying English at the University level.

Hoa Mia Orphanage Visit

When we arrived the children were all returning from school for a hot lunch. It must be difficult living without the love and encouragement of parents and family, Hoa Mia Orphanage houses 46 school age children. The facility is bright and very inviting. The children and young adults are happy to see us and update their lives with Ben. One of the students has passed the university exam and will study to become a kindergarten teacher, which Children of Vietnam has pledged to fund.

Families with so little

In the morning we visited four families living in bare circumstances, most with dirt floors, single rooms, and made of scraps of tin and wood. The floors were all damp, the rooms dark with electrical wires hung haphazardly. Food was cooked over an open wood fire in the back corner of the houses. Water for washing dishes was discolored and pungent. Only one house had an indoor latrine. We noticed one of the little girls had a severe case of head lice that staff will work with the parents to remedy. In most cases the parents were bricklayers or farmers earning less then $50 per month. As a result of hard labor two of the families reported back and other injuries. Children of Vietnam was happy to be able to promise all four families a new home.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Monday was a busy day…

We finally met Tung, who in partnership with Facing the World, received facial reconstruction in London and returned home to Danang with his mother after 5 months of treatment.

Next our group participated in the award of 46 bicycles to poor students in Hoa Vang District. School for these children is about 3 miles away and a bike is the difference between going or staying at home. Smiles were abounding!

In the afternoon we drove out into the country to visit a family whose home had been completely destroyed by the Oct 1 Typhoon. In addition to committing to building a new home, Children of Vietnam offered to provide the family with two bicycles so their 3 children would have transportation to school. They were very grateful. Upon hearing our offer, the mother immediately said, “One bike will be enough, as there are other families in need.” We were all humbled with her concern for others.