Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Typhoon Ketsana

Each fall as we prepare to return to Vietnam and donations begin to mount for our Journey of the Heart, the needs of the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the hungry are exacerbated by flooding....sometimes more severe than others. For the last few days we have been carefully watching news releases for more detailed information about the latest typhoon Ketsana. Having wreaked havoc in the Philippines,where hundreds have died, this storm smacked Central Vietnam with a vengeance yesterday.

The brunt of the over 100 km a mile winds and driving rain hit about 50 km south of Da Nang and our Vietnamese home in Hoi An. We are unable to contact anyone there, the Internet and all power have been reported as out.

Homes, precious rice crops, cattle and the few basic services which are available to the villagers are often descimated in these storms. Aid has already been offered by the European Union and the country had prepared, but the suffering has just begun for thousands of victims.

We are more dedicated ( if that is possible!!!) to bringing some relief in December from our fabulous support team for Jouneys of the Heart, for the victims of this latest cruel blow from Ma Nature to our beloved Hoi An.

UPDATE:  Today, Wednesday, September 30th we have heard from two friends via e-mail and although the flood waters were even higher in Hoi An than in 2007, they are OK, thank goodness. There has been damamge to the shop at Reaching Out, but all the stock had been moved upstairs and is safe and dry.

Le Ly Hayslip has also heard that the Global Village Foundation staff are well and the office suffered only first floor damage, with most of the "stuff" having been moved to the upper floors.

LATEST UPDATE: Today Friday, October 2nd we have more news from Hoi An and some pictures that clearly show the degree of devastation to Hoi An. Reports are that 100.000 people have lost their homes throughout the Central Coast region and the death toll has reached 64.

Appeals: International agancies are responding to the crisis in Vietnam, the Philipines and Samoa. another trpoical storm is on its way. Le Ly Hayslip and Global Village Foundation are on their way to deliver relief to the villagers in Quang Nam Province who have lost their homes and crops. Check Le Ly's website on the right of this blog to make a doantion directly or write to us at Journeys of the Heart.

Slideshow: I have updated our slide show on this blog to show you the pictures taken by Quyen at Reaching Out. Just click on the image for a full screen view of these stunning, heart breaking pictures.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hoa's Story

Recently, our friend Phuong at the Vietnam Agency for victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), told us about Hoa (Flower).

Hoa is mobility impaired and lives in extreme poverty with her husband and two adorable children. As you can see Hoa contributes to the family income by doing hand stitching on shoes on the floor of her small house. These shoes will retail at no more than five dollars a pair, and so Hoa probably earns just pennies per pair.

Hoa lives in Hoi An, within 45 kilometers of Da Nang, where huge stores of the Agent Orange dioxin were kept during the war. Now, Hoa has been diagnosed with breast cancer. There is no money for surgery or treatment of any kind. Friends and neighbours are doing what they can to raise funds for "medicine", probably herbal remedies.

Because of their poverty and Hoa's impairment, she and her family live in a one story shack. Unfortunately, this humble abode is also on the flood plane. Every year during the monsoons, they have endured the hardship of water sloshing through the house.

Hoa's husband earns his living driving a motor bike taxi and is heart broken that he can not provide a more comfortable dwelling for his ailing wife. We have committed to sending money towards the rent of a place for them, which will be safe from the rising waters in the next few months.

This story of one family's plight has touched me deeply. The legacy of Agent Orange has dealt Hoa a double blow. The lack of aid and care from the Vietnamese and more importantly the US governments for the victims of this relentless poison seems shameful to me.

Please remember Hoa in your prayers and in your donations to our Journey of the Heart.
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