Friday, May 31, 2013

Women Helping Women and Girls

I just received this video from Go Philanthropic. Lydia Dean put it together to inform others of the work done by Children's Education Foundation and Linda Hutchinson-Burn. As you will hear in the clip, GoPhil supports several of the girls in Linda's program.

Many of our donors to Journeys of the Heart also sponsor the education of girls ( and a few deserving boys too!) who would be unable to go to school without financial help. The irony in Vietnam is that although education is "mandatory", the annual fees are sometimes too much for poor families to pay so children stay at home to work at a very young age. Some end up on the streets, some are trafficked.

At Journeys of the Heart, we are thrilled to be part of the network of dedicated people who get their hearts and heads around publishing the plight of these young students.

In January, February and March of this year we worked with CEF and Linda DeWolf of GoPhi. You may remember our posts about the day we visited the students in Da Nang who have been relocated from the leprosy village of Hoa Van and another post about an art day. We also co-operated with another NGO, Global Village Foundation who were generous in sharing information about library books for school kids.

Such a powerful thing this synergy! Thanks to Linda, Linda, Lydia and Le Ly...we appreciate our partners! Click on the link to see the video.

Email if you would like to sponsor a child.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Miss Saigon

For whatever reasons we had never seen the musical Miss Saigon. Yesterday though we made the trek over to Victoria for the matinee.

The moment the curtain rose my reaction was visceral and conflicted. Initially it struck me as strange to trivialize the events leading up to the fall of Saigon in 1975 with singing and dancing. We have read too much and seen too much coverage of this startling event, with hundreds, no thousands, of terrified Vietnamese being abandoned by the Americans to settle into the musical telling of this tragedy.

Lost in the whorehouse scenes was the desperation of young soldiers who had lost themselves, their moral compasses and their humanity.

At the opening scene of the second act, the tragic consequences of stolen moments of love amidst the insanity of war, the Amerasian children left behind, became the focus. The floodgates opened and I could not staunch the tears that flowed for the rest of the production. These kids were born into a society that regarded mixed blood children as the dust of life.

It was a curious thing to sit in a theatre in downtown Victoria, with my veteran husband for whom this was so much more than a musical production. It was a strange thing to experience the juxtaposition of raucous and sometimes humorous numbers with tragic scenes of loss. I wondered how many people sitting there in the dark were crying as they clapped?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Celebrations at the Reunion of 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry

For more than twenty years some of the men who served in Vietnam with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry have come together to renew the bonds of brotherhood which were forged so many years ago on the battlefield.

These reunions have fostered a trip back to Vietnam for some of the guys, where they saw Vietnam as a "country, not a war."

Many in the group have also strongly supported our work with VAVA with financial donations which enable victims of Agent Orange and their families to start up home based businesses. Along with the self sufficiency which comes with the success of these businesses, pride and self worth grow in conjunction with their independence. Thanks to these veterans (some of whom have also suffered the effects of Agent Orange and are compensated by the VA) Vietnamese who receive no compensation from either the US or Vietnamese governments are altering their lives for the better.

It was also an occasion to celebrate the publication of our memoir Back to Vietnam. Lou Hennies who gave us a back cover endorsement based on his reading of an early draft, was pleased to get his hands on the "real thing".

The reunion was a coming together of our love for Vietnam and the work that we do, with the support and camaraderie of the men who fought there with Bruce more than 40 years ago.

And these, ladies and gentlemen, are the women who are the strength behind the men of the 4th/ 23rd! This beautiful bunch have served on the home front lo these many years and they deserve our salutes!