December 2015/March 2016
We are often presented with opportunities to help that don’t fit neatly into one of our other categories. Mostly they are one shot deals, helping an individual, a family, or an organization. Some, like the two projects this year, may become regular annual programs.
Rural Infrastructure Improvement
Our focus for the last 17 years has been on the individual and family – improving people’s lives one person at a time. We have now found that we can make very efficient use of some of our money by doing some community based work improving village trails, roads and small bridges. Additionally, this type of work is highly valued and appreciated by local residents and government. Our idea is to identify a project referred by town or district officials, offer to buy the construction materials and ask them to arrange labor from the community – from those directly affected by the project. Our first two small test projects have been successful.
The main road through the rural area of one town, Phuoc My Trung, is concrete, about eight feet wide. It is heavily traveled, by motorbike, bicycle, pedestrian, and even some (very) small trucks, usually delivering building supplies, or taking out coconuts and nursery products. This heavy usage has caused large cracks and in some places the edges have broken off. For $152 we bought cement, sand and stone to prepare concrete and local residents made the repairs.
For our second project we improved about 100 meters of dirt trail, which had become barely passable in monsoon season due to its low level and frequent use. First, banks are built up on the sides of the trail with mud from adjacent canals. Then a slurry of silt and water is pumped in to bring the trail up to the level of the banks. The silt (dredged from the Mekong after its annual flooding) is self levelling and dries to a hard, durable surface. In this case the local residents bought some crushed shell to cover the silt, making the trail even more durable, beautiful, and pleasing to the ear as you walk or ride on it. Labor was supplied by local residents. Our cost was $445 for four boatloads of silt.
Trail to be rebuilt
Trail to be rebuilt
Banks of new trail
Video | Pumping the silt
Video | Walking the new trail
Mobility for the Disabled
We asked our local district government to identify people who could not walk, but had use of their arms. They referred eight people, and after checking them out we bought push-trikes for all eight, and arranged for them to show up at the district offices to pick up their trikes. A few took right to them and were able to operate them immediately. For a few others the learning was a little more difficult. All of them, though, got something they hadn’t had before – the ability to get around on their own. It is life changing. Rather than being completely dependent on others, they can now take care of some of their own needs, including earning an income. A frequent use of these push-trikes is to move about town selling lottery tickets – a common occupation for the disabled. Our cost per trike including delivery from Saigon was $176 (Phuong bargained hard for them).
Some years ago we bought push-trikes for a few people in a neighboring district. Last year we bought five in a joint project with Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation in Quang Tri province. Our difficulty up to now has been finding recipients. We have asked the Ben Tre Association to Help the Poor, the Disabled, and Orphans to find recipients for us in another district in our province for next trip. If they do, we plan to make this a regular part of our work.
November 2014/February 2015
We are often presented with opportunities to help that don’t fit neatly into one of our other categories. Most of the time, like this year, they are projects helping one person, one family, at a time.
We’re making a small foray into raising chickens, both for the eggs and offspring, to eat and to sell for income. We have avoided this in the past because the success rate is low. However, we came across two families in very difficult circumstances and neither we nor our local advisors could think of any other way to help them improve their conditions.
For each family we bought five hens and one rooster (each hand picked by Board member Phuong), netting for an enclosure, and six months’ worth of natural food – corn and unhusked rice.
Nguyen Huynh Van Dung is a 48 year old single dad with one son, age 13. An 18 year old son died last year from cancer. The mom left the family when the kids were young. Like most of our recipients, Dung is unskilled and has low income. The 13 year old, an excellent student, quit school last year because he couldn’t concentrate while his brother was sick. He wants to go back to school and we have made arrangements with our bookseller for him to get whatever books and school supplies that he needs. They are living in a temporary “leaf” house – bamboo posts and beams, walls and roof made from water coconut frond panels, dirt floor. We’ve told him that if his son is back in school when we return we will build a new house for them.
The other family is Nguyen Van Man, age 40, and his two daughters, ages 4 and 14. His wife died earlier this year from suicide over a $700 debt. He is unskilled, and has no relatives nearby to take care of the girls when they are not in school, which limits his work possibilities even more. We did not commit to him but we are considering building a house for this family as well. We will recheck their situation when we return.
We also arranged for each family to get 10kg (22lbs) of rice each month for a year.
Our cost: about $107 per family.
Mobility for the Disabled
There is a factory in Saigon that makes three wheel vehicles that look like a cross between a wheel chair and a bicycle. The wide seat is low, and in place of handle bars there is a shaft with a steering wheel on top, and attached to a chain on the bottom. Pushing the wheel back and forth moves the chain and powers the back wheels. There is storage space behind the seat and a sun shade as well. These chairs are perfect for people who have the use of their arms but not their legs, from weakness, paralysis or amputation. They can move from place to place under their own power. Kids can get to school, adults to work, or to sell small items or lottery tickets directly from their chair.
In January we received a call from John Ward at Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation. They are a small NGO like us, based in Quang Tri province, next to what we used to call the DMZ. Because of its location, Quang Tri has many amputees from UXO (unexploded ordinance). Even now, children and adults are injured every year by these remnants of war. John said a local person with whom he has had a long relationship wanted 10 of the trikes, and were we interested? We definitely were, and agreed to buy five of them. We sent the money to Lotus and they ordered the trikes and delivered them to the recipients. Here are reports on five of the recipients, prepared by Lotus local staff.
We like this project because of the substantial and immediate improvement in quality of life for the recipients. We have asked Mr. Le Huynh, President of the Ben Tre Association to Help the Sick, the Disabled and Orphans, to look for recipients for us for next year.
Our cost: $185 each.
Reports from our partner – Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation
1) Beneficiary’s name: Le Van Thuc
Age: 64 years old
Occupation: bicycle repair
Location of home:
Trung Chi Quarter, Dong Luong Ward,
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province.
Mr. Thuc is UXO’s victim. In 1974, he was amputated two legs because he stepped on landmines. From that time on, he used two small wooden chairs as two legs to walk. He repairs bicycle at Highway 1 for earning living and earns about $1.43 a day. Mr. Thuc came to LOTUS’s attention via an introduction of the Quang Tri Sponsor Association for Poor Patients. LOTUS agreed to fund for him a tricycle, which cost $184.50. Since he received the tricycle from LOTUS, it is very easy and comfortable for him to move around and to go to work. He is extremely happy and says thanks to the donor.
2) Beneficiary’s name: Nguyen Thi Cuc
Age: 57 years old
Occupation: make bamboo toothpicks and incense at
Quang Tri Blind People Association
Location of home:
Quarter 2, Dong Giang Ward,
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province.
Mrs. Cuc is UXO’s victim. In 1968 (in the wartime), she was amputated two legs because she stepped on landmines. From that time on, she used two small wooden chairs as her two legs to walk. She makes bamboo toothpicks, incense, and earns about $35.71 per month. Prior to receive the tricycle from LOTUS, she borrowed an old wheelchair to go from home to the Quang Tri Blind People Association to work so she often felt tired after a working day. Mrs. Cuc came to LOTUS’s attention via an introduction of the Quang Tri Sponsor Association for Poor Patients. LOTUS agreed to fund for her a tricycle, which cost $184.50. Since she received the tricycle from LOTUS, it is very easy for her to move around and to go to work. She feels very happy and she would like to send gratefulness to the donor.
3) Beneficiary’s name: Le Duc Khai
Age: 35 years old
Occupation: make toothpicks and incense
at Quang Tri Blind People Association
Location of home:
Dai Ang Quarter, Dong Luong Ward,
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province.
Ten years ago, Mr. Khai had a traffic accident. After staying at hospital for along time, his health recovered but his legs were paralyzed. In 2010, Mr. Khai became a member of The Quang Tri Blind People Association. He makes toothpicks, incense and earns about $71.43 each month. Because his house is far away to The Quang Tri Blind People Association plus he did not have a suitable transportation mean he was permitted to stay there and sometimes comes back home. Mr. Khai came to LOTUS’s attention via an introduction of the Quang Tri Sponsor Association for Poor Patients. LOTUS agreed to fund for him a tricycle, which cost $184.50. Since he received the tricycle from LOTUS, it is very easy for her to move around and return home after working. He would like to say thanks to the donor.
4) Beneficiary’s name: Doan Thi Em
Age: 52 years old
Occupation: sells lottery tickets
Location of home:
Quarter 4, Ward 5,
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province.
After the cerebral troubles in 2013, Mrs. Em’s legs are partly paralyzed so it is very difficult for her to walk. She used to be the main provider of the five-people family but now she has to stay at home. She wishes to have a tricycle to go around selling lottery tickets to earn money for feeding her and her children. Fortunately, the Quang Tri Sponsor Association for Poor Patients knew her case and introduced her to LOTUS for assistance. After doing home assessment, LOTUS funded for her a tricycle, which cost $184.50. Mrs. Em is happy because she has a transportation mean to sell lottery tickets to earn living. She would like to send her gratefulness to the donor.
5) Beneficiary’s name: Nguyen Ngoc Phap
Age: 28 years old
Occupation: sells lottery tickets
Location of home:
Quarter 2, Ward 5,
Dong Ha City, Quang Tri Province.
Phap has been a disable. Phap’s two legs were paralyzed when he was born. In 2003, East Meets West Foundation introduced a foreign doctor and funded surgery and physiotherapy practice costs in Quang Tri Provincial Hospital. After surgery, his legs were partly improved but it’s very difficult for him to walk.
Phap comes from a large family with four children. The parents are both laborers. The family’s limited income is hardly enough to pay for their daily consumption and school fees for their children. To earn living and support for the parents, Phap borrowed an old tricycle to go around Dong Ha City to sell lottery tickets. He earns about $2.38 a day. Phap wishes to have a new tricycle to move quickly to sell many lottery tickets. Phap came to LOTUS’s attention via an introduction of the Quang Tri Sponsor Association for Poor Patients. After conducting a family assessment, LOTUS agreed to fund for him a tricycle, which cost $184.50. When Phap received the new tricycle, he felt happy and would like to say thanks to the donor.
Bicycles for Kids
We bought used bicycles in good condition for three very poor children who were referred to us by our local helpers. Each of these kids, two girls age 11 and one boy age 12, lives with a single mom who earns little income. One of them, Nguyen Thi Cam Tu’s mom, age 51, is a trash picker with income of about a dollar a day. These bicycles will make it easier for these kids to get to school and run errands to help their moms. And, we got three really big smiles.
Our average cost per bicycle: $29
One of our local helpers introduced us to four year old Nguyen Thi Nhu Tho. She has a sunken chest due to an untreated injury when she was an infant. She sometimes finds it hard to breathe and has low energy. She was examined at University Hospital in Saigon and the surgery cost is $3,245 USD. The family is extremely poor. The dad is an unskilled laborer and works in Saigon for about $100/month. The family’s income will be supplemented by a coir spinner that we gave them this year, but the surgery cost is out of reach. We gave VinaCapital Foundation $1,000 and they are doing us the favor of finding another program that will help.
November 2012/February 2013
These are projects that don’t fit neatly into one of our categories, come to our attention while we are in Vietnam, and meet our guidelines to improve the quality of life for poor, disadvantaged and disabled people in Vietnam.
$24 for a medical exam for a 24 day old baby with deformed foot and leg who we met while distributing rice.
$29 for a used bicycle for Nguyen Thi Hang, a nun at a local pagoda who provides free traditional medicine to poor people. She will use the bike to collect wild medicinal plants. Up to now she has had to walk.
$96 to Mr. E and Mrs. Be. We got them started in a successful noodle shop in 2008. This year both of them were sick and we gave them some money to help with medical expenses.
$48 to Phat Minh Pagoda in Ben Tre Province, to help support 40 orphans and abandoned children that live at the pagoda.
December 2011/February 2012
Le Van Chuong
Chuong, 34 years old, is married and has a nine year old daughter. About a year ago he received a head injury in a motorbike accident and since then he had been unable to work and sometimes didn’t recognize his wife and daughter. He was told that he needed part of his skull replaced and that surgery might improve his condition. The family could not afford surgery so nothing was done.
We were introduced to him by both the district office to help poor people and the provincial Society to Help Poor and Disabled Patients. We agreed to pay for the surgery, which was done in Saigon. He was then transferred to the provincial hospital in Ben Tre and we met him the day he was being discharged. It was a very emotional meeting – TV interview, he overcome by emotion, his wife consoling him.
The surgery was very successful. He remembered Phuong visiting his house and other details. It looks like he will be able to work again and take care of his family. A combination of local charities is trying to get money together to build a house for him.
Our cost: $952
Nguyen Huy Tuan and children
Last June Phuong was reading a Vietnamese online newspaper when she came across an article about Tuan, 38, and his four children ages nine, six, three, and 7days, living in Ha Tinh province in north central Vietnam. The mom had died unexpectedly just one week after giving birth, and the family was in dire circumstances. Phuong wanted to help so we contacted our friend John Ward who runs Lotus Humanitarian Aid Foundation. John lives in a nearby province and sometimes goes to Ha Tinh to do heart surgery assessments. We asked John to check out this family next time he was in Ha Tinh and to give them up to three hundred dollars depending on their situation. He visited them, reported that their situation was very difficult, and delivered the three hundred dollars for us. The biggest immediate need was for milk for the baby.
We were asked by a Women’s Union representative to look at a house that needed a roof repair. Roofs made of water coconut frond panels are quite common and they don’t last forever, so we often see roofs that let a little rain in, and we usually don’t repair them, but this one gave a great view of the stars at night. We replaced it with fiberglass panels.
Our cost: $272
Urgent needs and special opportunities present themselves on each trip, and we reserve some money to address them.
Enjoying the ride!
On the Fall, 2008 trip we bought five push-cycles for people who can’t get around by themselves, usually due to amputation, stroke, polio or congenital disability. This time we bought five more, again for people in Long Thoi town. They were received with much happiness. These self propelled vehicles make a great improvement in the quality of life for the recipients and for their families. Our cost: $144 each.
Members of the Hoa Hao, an indigenous Vietnamese religion, cook and provide free rice for poor patients in the traditional medicine hospital in Ben Tre, as well as for poor patients in the provincial hospital down the road.
They had seen us on a TV news story about the coir spinning machines, then found us and asked if we could help them build a new stove. We went to the hospital to check it out and found the large brick wood-fired stove almost unusable. We gave them $574 to build a metal reinforced brick and concrete stove and to buy rice, and a few weeks later attended the dedication party for the new stove. Our cost: stove, $433, and 350 kilos rice, $141.
This family was referred to us by the youngest child’s teacher. The father is blind and the mom is weak from chronic illness. The parents and the two older kids all sell lottery tickets to support the family and to keep the youngest daughter, age 13, in school. We paid $115 for a new roof for their house so they could stay dry in the rainy season.
While we were distributing school clothes at the elementary school in Tan Thanh Tay, the school principal asked if we could help build a concrete sidewalk from the school gate to the main building so the kids wouldn’t have to walk through mud in the rainy season. We agreed and a two by twenty meter concrete sidewalk was built. Our cost: $86.
Thuy's ceiling before roof repair
We have had a long relationship with Miss Thuy in Hue. She’s the lead story on our web site. Thuy’s house, not much more than a lean-to against her parents’ house, needed repairs. The bamboo posts and beams were rotting and the metal roof was rusting and had many holes in it. The cardboard reinforcement didn’t keep the rain out. We brought in a builder and arranged to make six new concrete posts and put in new beams and a new roof. He refused cash up front, insisting that Thuy accompany him to buy the building supplies. Our cost: $344.
We always budget some money for urgent and special needs that present themselves, and we’re always glad that we did. This trip gave us more than usual.
Mobility at last!
An excellent opportunity which fits right in with our mission presented itself. The Peoples Committee in Long Thoi town told us they have five people whose legs are paralyzed or amputated and asked if we could buy push carts for them. These are three wheeled vehicles with a seat for one and a steering wheel on a shaft which is pushed back and forth by hand to move it. There is also storage space at the back and a sun/rain cover. As well as providing general mobility, these carts will allow all five people to earn money. They will be able to move around town and sell lottery tickets, a popular occupation for poor students and for adults that do not have, or can’t do, other work. We researched it and found that the carts are made in Saigon and cost about $150 each. We ordered five and had them delivered by boat. We will ask the Peoples Committees in other towns if they have people who need these.
At one of the schools, a teacher asked us if we could help an eight year old girl, one of her students, who has kidney disease and will die without help. We asked for more information and the teacher immediately hopped on her motorbike and went to the girl’s house. This is typical of teachers in Vietnam – concern for their students well beyond the classroom. The next day the girl, Nguyen Thi Ngop Giau, showed up at our house with her mom and dad. We gave them $60 to go to Saigon for another exam and referred them to Miss Yen, our heart surgery coordinator. Yen had her examined at one of the pediatric hospitals in Saigon.
Giau with her mother and teacher
We found that because the parents are very poor, they were only able to buy medicine when their daughter became extremely ill with a lot of pain. Her condition had steadily deteriorated because she did not have consistent medication. Yen will find financial help for the medicine, and the doctors say they may be able to keep her alive until she is strong enough for kidney transplant, but the outlook is not good.
After giving out exercise books and clothes at an elementary school, we noticed one of the students leading her mother across the schoolyard. On inquiry, we found that the mom, Nguyen Thi Kim Nam, is blind. She has two children, a girl in grade 1 and a boy in grade 5. Her husband operates a small river ferry. He earns about $1.25 a day when he works, doesn’t work often and drinks a lot. This family is in extremely difficult circumstances. We bought three sets of clothes for Kim Nam, two sets for each of the kids, and shoes for all. We also arranged for one of our helpers to buy and deliver rice to the family each month.
While we were there we heard about a house in Tan Phu Tay that had burned a few days ago. When we arrived we found the family living in a temporary house built by neighbors of bamboo with wall and roof panels made from water coconut fronds. The family, mom, dad and a ten year old girl who is in school, has 1500 square meters of land, and makes a living growing bananas and then drying them in a brick kiln and selling them to a wholesaler for packaging. The kiln, inside the house, was the source of the fire. They had very little to start with and had lost almost everything. The mom could barely hold back her tears as we talked to them. We gave them three million dong, $181, to rebuild the kiln so they could continue to produce income, and an individual visiting us gave them an additional $120.
We were originally referred to 16 year old Cuong by Miss Yen, and have been helping her with school and living expenses for two years. Each year the top students in each subject from each province in the south go to Saigon for a competition, and this year Cuong won the top prize in literature. We bought her a bicycle to make it easier for her to go to school.
December 2007/January 2008
Ly learning to read and write
Update: Last March we built a compassion house for a family of five, all illiterate, and arranged for a tutor to teach the 15 and 16 year old girls, both named Ly, to read and write (see the May 23, 2007 dispatch). The older girl, now 17, got pregnant, married and stopped taking lessons. The younger Ly, now 16, got embarrassed being alone with her tutor, a young man recently graduated from college, and was about to quit as well, so the tutor’s mother took over instruction. Progress is slow, but she is learning to read and write.
Mrs. Ty is 70 years old, and we built a compassion house for her in 2005. When we visited her we found that she was sleeping on the floor and her roof needed repair. We fixed the roof and bought her a bed, mosquito net, blanket and pillow. $184.
Mr. E’s 28 year old son (see business start-up report) has cancer. We gave them $62 for transportation to and a doctor visit in Saigon.
Duyen enroute to Saigon for examination
Duyen is a 13 year old girl in Tan Phu Tay. While distributing school supplies, board member Phuong noticed that Duyen had a large growth on her cheek. On inquiry we found that she had a similar growth and one eye removed when she was an infant, and that her remaining eye was unstable. We took her to Saigon and had her examined by an ophthalmologist and a neurosurgeon. They decided that surgery to remove the growth was too dangerous, and on their recommendation we bought her eyeglasses and medicine to help stabilize her remaining eye. She now finds it easier to read and do her schoolwork. $159.
Cuong is a 16 year old girl that was introduced to us last year by Miss Yen, our heart surgery coordinator. At that time she was living with her mother and her grandfather on the outskirts of Saigon and had just quit school because her family could not afford to pay for it. Her mother is a tailor but frequently can’t work because of headaches caused by a head injury. Since then her grandfather has died and Cuong and her mom have moved to Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong Delta. Yen helped Cuong get into school and she is now the top student in her class. We hope to be able to continue to help Cuong through high school and university. We gave Yen $187 to pay for Cuong’s school expenses and to help her with clothing and food.
Thanh Thanh starts school
Mrs. Seo, 87, lives alone with her developmentally disabled 60 year old son. We bought them two beds, two mosquito nets and two reed mats. $47.
Thanh Thanh is a seven year old Khmer (ethnic Cambodian) girl, also introduced to us by Miss Yen, living in Soc Trang. She had never been to school. Her dad speaks a little Vietnamese but her mom only speaks Khmer. Her dad asked us to help her go to school so she could write a letter and read the newspaper. With our help, she started school last year and is now in grade 1. We gave Yen $125 to help Thanh Thanh for the 2008 school year.
More special needs than usual came to our attention on this trip.
Miss Yen, our heart surgery coordinator, introduced us to three people. We met the first when we went to the hospital to see Xuan Trang, our current heart kid. A man was standing at the entrance to the hospital in tears and asking us for money. Yen later told us that his son had recently had heart surgery, but was still in ICU and was expected to be there for a while. The family had sold their land and all their possessions to pay for hospital costs and were at their wits end. We gave him $200.
Danh Thi Thanh Thanh is a 7 year old Khmer (ethnic Cambodian) girl living in Soc Trang province in the Mekong Delta. She has never been to school. She had heart surgery in Saigon in March, and has returned home to live with her father, a fisherman, and her mother, who sells fish in the market. They do not have their own home and can’t afford to send Thanh Thanh to school. We gave Yen $2,000,000 Viet Nam Dong ($125 USD) to buy school supplies and pay school fees for Thanh Thanh to go to school for one year.
Tran Ngoc Cuong is a 15 year old girl who also had heart surgery recently. Her father abandoned the family and her family recently moved to Binh Chanh, a suburb of Saigon, where they rent a small room. Her mother, a tailor, was able to earn enough to pay for food and school. A few months ago her mother became sick, was unable to pay school fees, and Ngoc Cuong had to quit school. We gave Yen $125 to buy school supplies and pay for school fees for one year.
Phuoc My Trung’s main street has been resurfaced (a three year project) and is now a good quality road. The downside to this is that traffic can now drive fast on it and there is a lot of speeding, especially young men on motorbikes. Since the road was finished in April, there have been several serious accidents, including two deaths. One of the accidents was a high school girl walking home who was struck by a motorbike. She had serious brain injuries and was taken to hospital in Saigon. The family is very poor and the teachers from the high school were asking for money to help. We gave the family $240 to help pay hospital expenses.
$100 for 10 months tutoring for two sisters, age 15 and 16, who can’t read or write. See the May, 2007 letter in the Dispatch section for details.
$19 for textbooks, school supplies and a white ao day (Vietnamese traditional dress, used as a school uniform in high school) to a girl on the verge of dropping out of school.
$7 to buy two sets of clothes for Luan, the heart patient that we were unable to help.
$59 to buy blankets for 35 elderly people in Tan Phu Tay.
Board member Phuong gives 2 blankets to Miss Tu
Dang Thuy Tu is 78 and lives in Tan Phu with her daughter, who is in her forties. The daughter is mentally ill and can’t contribute to family income. Her other daughter lives in another province, is also poor, and can’t help her either. Tu makes brooms and sells about one a week for about 25 cents. She occasionally catches fish in a nearby canal, and neighbors help her with food.
Last year a Saigon company built a compassion house for her, but the construction was not particularly good. When we got there the house was empty except for a tiny brick stove in one corner of the back room, a few kitchen items and some rice and a few bananas.
We bought six wood beams to repair her roof, a bed with reed mat and foam mattress, two blankets, a mosquito net, two large earthenware jugs to hold rain water, and some rice.
Miss Phung gathering broom straws
Vo Thi Phung, 52, lives in Thanh An and takes care of her 14 year old granddaughter Ngan. Phung makes brooms and sells about 10 a month for about 25 cents each. Ngan goes to school in the afternoon, and every morning she bicycles about 10 miles round trip to work in a coconut candy factory wrapping candy. She earns about 62 cents a day.
They have been living with friends who offered them enough land to build a house. Phung went to Saigon to do domestic work and earned enough to build a foundation and tile floor. This arrangement left her granddaughter alone, so she returned to the countryside. We bought her wood beams, bamboo rafters, coconut palm panels for a roof and walls, a bed, two blankets, a foam mattress, a mosquito net, and some rice.
Our cost for both families: $203.00
While distributing notebooks and pens at the schools, we noticed that many of the students don’t have adequate school clothes. Some of the poorest kids only have one set of clothes and sometimes come to school with their clothes still damp if they need to be washed during the week. We bought 90 sets of school clothes white blouse and blue skirt for the girls, white shirt and blue pants for the boys for kids in six elementary schools. The vender sold them to us at cost as an act of charity for average price $2.46 each.
High school girls wear a white Ao Dai, the traditional Vietnamese long dress. We purchased material and hired a tailor to make Ao Dai for seven high school girls for about $6.50 each.
Miss Thuy’s son, Cu, is planning to go to Malaysia on a three year labor contract to work in a clothing factory. They needed $1,072 as deposit to the labor export company. The Vietnamese government gave them an interest free loan of $631. Miss Thuy borrowed $126 from friends and we gave them a grant of $315. For the complete story, see the Dispatches section.
Nguyen Van Pha
He is a 14 year old boy living in Phuoc My Trung with a painful and debilitating illness. He has joint pain so severe that he often can't go to school. We paid for a doctor visit for diagnosis - he has degenerative joint disease - and an initial supply of medicine. $35.00.
He is 37 and lives with his wife, age 25 and two five year old twin boys in Phu Hoa, Cho Lach Dustrict. He is severely crippled - his right leg withered, or maybe never grown, with his knee permanently up against his chest. She is chronically ill and weak, Phuong thinks with a liver disease. He takes a small boat out on the canals to catch fish to eat. The roof of their house is generally in bad repair and now has a large hole in it from a cooking fire. We bought them some new woven coconut frond panels to repair the roof, $27.00, and are making our first venture into raising chickens. We purchased 40 chicks, 2 chicken houses, food for the chicks and then enough unhusked rice to get them to market size, about 4 months, $32.00. On our next trip we will check up to see the results and would like to give additional assistance to this family, possibly with the purchase of a cow.
Le The Doi
She is a 60 year old woman living alone in Thuy Bang, near Hue, who was referred to us by a hotel clerk who we've known for about four years. She is not in good health and can't work. We have asked the person who referred us to think of some way she can earn income if we get her started. In the meanwhile, we purchased rice for $6.00.