They call him “Little Long” because he is short, but if you saw a picture of him with nothing to compare his height with, you would see a normal 26-year-old man, perfect in all aspects, not dwarfed. He is just little. Long was born to a poor veteran family and has a sibling who is also very short. He could not go to school because the prevailing attitude was that it was a waste of money educating someone who was so “different.” When Little Long came to the village he met Suel Jones, a veteran of the American war (as it is called in Viet Nam) who volunteered for many years at the village. People who knew Long at that time will tell you that at first he could not even look people in the eye when talking because of his low self-esteem. He was not used to talking to anyone and would break into nervous giggles when asked even a simple question. One got the impression that he was mentally disabled. But after getting to know him, Suel realized that Little Long was in fact quite smart. In subsequent conversations, Long confided to Suel that his big dream was to study IT (Information Technology) so that he could do what every other young man does—make money, help his family, find a girlfriend, start a family of his own. To do these things he needed a profession. Eventually Suel organized a group of his expat friends to raise the money to send Little Long to school to study IT. This is how Little Long started out as a resident at the village and is now a teacher. Thanks to his own efforts and the help of many friends at VFV and abroad, Long can now look you in the eye and tell you what he thinks.
In commemoration of International Agent Orange Day, we want to share this article, authored by by Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie Cohen and posted on the website of the Viet Nam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. If you miss the chance to participate with 51 seconds of silence followed by 51 seconds of action on August 10, 2012, don’t worry. These are simple actions that can be taken anytime. The main point is to help raise awareness in the USA about the ongoing legacy of dioxin left behind in Viet Nam and to do whatever we can to address the problem. Offering support to the Viet Nam Friendship Village is one avenue, and we hope you will do that, but there are many other projects out there working on this issue, and by supporting each other we increase our overall effectiveness in bringing relief to the Vietnamese people who continued to be affected by Agent Orange all these years after the American war.