Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet-Colonel Stocker, Bandage Brigade

For several years Linda Stocker and I have been corresponding via e-mail,telephone and Skype. She is the angel who has inspired hundreds of women to knit bandages for vicitms of leprosy in Vietnam. Linda created a blog, tended closely the growing network of knitters, and now is managing the task of collecting and shipping thousands of bandages.

Linda and I connected because we had both travelled, in different years, with our veteran husbands to Vietnam with Tours of Peace. Linda and her husband Gary continued to work with TOP, after their tour, as volunteers in the Personal Effects Program ( returning "dog tags" found in Vietnam to their owners or survivors). Bruce and I volunteered to head up TOP's Education Program. You can read about TOP on the link to the right and understand how this organization spawned a passionate interest on the parts of both the Stockers and ourselves in helping the resilient people of Vietnam. Through our work and interests we "met" on-line.

Along the way, Linda and I discovered our shared passion for alleviating the suffering of people with leprosy in Vietnam. Dynamic, determined, dedicated Linda created, with the help of her daughter Cindy, a blog which at first issued instructions for kntting, information about the disease of leprosy and ALWAYS encouragement(see link to the right). The Brigade has grown to hundreds of knitters, with an annual production of thousands of lovingly knit bandages.....so many so that the small groups of travellers with TOP were unable to carry the bandages to Vietnam.

Undaunted, Linda pressed on to find other ways to get the bandages shipped and distributed in Vietnam. The D.O.V. E. organization has taken the project under its wing. They will carry, thanks to EVA airlines, duffle bags ladened with bandages on their annual tours. Check out the D.O.V.E. website also linked on the right hand side of this blog to learn about their work in Vietnam.

Now Linda is also focusing on research and networking to find out why the drugs available to arrest leprosy are not finding their way to remote villages and estaablishing relationships with NGO's already deeply involved in providing aid to those who suffer from this disabling illness.
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