Thursday, January 27, 2011

Touching Moments

This morning we went on another Journey of the Heart. With Mrs. Hoa and Phuong from VAVA ( Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange) and our daughter Quyen, we visited five of the families who will benefit from the generous donations from Bruce's buds, the veterans of 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry and friends in Vancouver and on Salt Spring Island. The 38,000,000 Dong will help a total of 38 families in the Hoi An area. It was a day of reaching out across the generations, two cultures and two countries to heal the wounds of war and the aftermath of dioxin related disabilities.

We returned to see the new small business, established by Man and Hong, both blind and who have a daughter disabled with cerebral palsy. The neighbourhood kids are out of school for Tet and so the games tables, ping pong and foosball were very busy. By the time we arrived at 10 am, they had made 20,000 Dong ( one US dollar), but at this rate per day they will make enough to support themsleves for a month and to save for a refrigerator.

This family have been able, with the help of Journeys of the Heart, to repair a small fish boat engine, and will augment their income by fishing once the sea is calmer in the spring.

When we show up, the whole neighbourhood wanders by to see what all the excitement is. This morning this old gent really wanted to be in on the action. He is a former Viet Cong soldier and wanted very much to say "hello" to Bruce and shake his hand. In fact, he would not let go of Bruce until we loaded into the car.

Each story of the suffering of these families, tears at one's heart. Aging parents are struggling to care for their disabled children.

We found this severely disabled ( mentally and physically) forty year old woman, at home alone in a single dark,moldy room. Her seventy three year old mother leaves her each day to work in the rice paddy. Her father died last year. The neighbours watch out for her and help her with food and toilet until her mother is home.

Can you imagine the excitement as we drove up (or often walked down a muddy lane) with these baskets of treats. Quyen had the baskets made up so that these sweet people could celebrate Tet. How we love Quyen's huge heart.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 21, 2011

A visit to Hien and Ly's house

Yesterday,we travelled by car into Da Nang to visit Hien and Ly, to wish them Happy Lunar New Year , "Chuc Mung Nam Moi". They are leaving their little one room house and flying home on Sunday to Kon Tum, north of Pleiku in the mountains, not only for Tet, but to settle in for four months for the birth of their baby. It is traditional for young couples to return home to their parents for the birth of their children (if they are not living with the parents, which is also traditional). It is especially important for Hien and Ly to be with family to care for the baby. The one room is all they have in Da Nang and with Hien's limited mobility the helping hands of family will be necessary with the baby. Right now their one room serves as living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, studio and gallery....heaven knows where they will put a baby when they return after the four months so that Ly can go back to her job as a therapist at the rehabilitation center.

Hien's paintings are selling well at Reaching Out and we were really happy to hear that the computer which Journeys of the Heart (along with Binh and Quyen) gave Hien as a wedding present is proving very useful. Because Hien can not get out to seek inspiration for his paintings, he uses his computer to find and manipulate images of his beloved Vietnam.

We wish Hien and Ly much luck and a happy baby!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Work Has Begun

It's about time we got to work. We have been in Vietnam for three days!

This morning we attended the annual meeting for the Hoi An Chapter of VAVA, the Vietnamese Association for the Victims of Agent Orange. Bruce is pictured here presenting an envelope of donated funds from Jounreys of the Heart to the Director Mrs. Hoa. Warm thanks to all the veterans and friends who have made this $2000.00 gift to the victims possible.

The three hour meeting, with long reports and speeches was an interesting experience for us. Bruce was also asked to speak through an interpreter and present some of the gifts.

More pictures will appear on our webalbum. Just click on the slide show at the top right of the blog.