Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, marking the return of the light as days begin lengthening again. I hope this message finds its readers relaxing in a comfortable shelter, with access to yummy and nutritious food, in good spirits, possibly also being nourished by the love of friends and family.
Our U.S. Committee (VFVP-USA) just sent our quarterly contribution ($5,000 this time) to the Vietnam Friendship Village for operating expenses. We thank our supporters for making this possible. We are glad to know our dollars will help provide additional comfort, nutritious meals, and whatever special services may be needed to enhance the future for the individuals who come to the Friendship Village for assistance, whether it is medicine, corrective surgery, physical therapy or vocational training.
ONE EXAMPLE IN PHOTO ABOVE: A malformed rib cage, curved spine and poly-arthritis make walking difficult but 21-year-old Bui Thi Hoa perseveres. Her dream is to become an excellent tailor.
A few weeks from now, children will be preparing to go home to their loved ones to celebrate Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year), which falls on January 23rd in 2012. By then we will have received many returns from our 2011 Appeal Letter, and will be well on our way to raising our next bundle of support for the village. Your participation is welcome! (Choose “Be a Financial Supporter” under “Get Involved” at right.)
The man in this beautiful family portrait is Dan Rocovits, here with his wife, Moon and their baby, Sunny. Dan is an American who has lived in Asia for most of his adult life. He is a remarkably kind and caring man, and has provided assistance on numerous occasions to me and others involved with VFVP-USA when we have traveled to Hanoi for international meetings.
Dan’s brother David Rocovits is an active board member of Vietnam Friendship Village Project USA. The two brothers have always loved international travel, and in 1996 Dan moved to Viet Nam to lend a hand with the country’s development efforts, and founded a nonprofit organization called World Village Foundation. Dan is also a founding board member of Vietnam Hosteling International and has served as its secretary for four years. Dan’s wife Moon, a professional graphic artist, is general manager of Vietnam HI Travel and, along with Dan and other staff, coordinates Hostelling International travel experiences for international visitors to Viet Nam.
Dan’s brother David Rocovits, who serves on VFVP-USA’s board of directors, is one of the most dedicated fundraisers we have here in the US, and his efforts are one of the reasons our small group of volunteers has been able to sustain a decent level of support for the Friendship Village despite economic challenges. David travels to Hanoi frequently to visit his brother’s family, and the village, and usually returns with a new batch of excellent photos.
The reason for this post is that Dan was recently featured on the Vietnamese television show, “Talk VietNam.” The interview was divided into four video segments and uploaded to YouTube. In the third segment, in which Dan discusses his brother’s involvement with the Vietnam Friendship Village, there is a great clip of Dan visiting the village. (If you would like to learn more about this extraordinary human being by watching the entire interview, just search for “Dan Rocovits” on YouTube.)
Finally, we have a new, improved website design for the Vietnam Friendship Village Project’s US Committee. This site combines basic info pages with a blog-style column where we will post news and photos to keep everyone updated on what’s happening at the Friendship Village in Hanoi. In addition, look for announcements of special activities here in the United States hosted by US Committee members.
To celebrate this long-awaited development, here is a poem about Peace written by Friendship Village Founder George Mizo (thank you to Rosemarie Höhn-Mizo for sharing this at our Tenth Anniversary ceremony in 2008):
Peace is giving something to life,
In each day, in a lifetime.
Peace is sometimes hurting someone,
but never wanting to, and trying not to.
Peace is not only seeing the beauty in a flower,
but seeing also the beauty in the beggar.
Peace is not just not killing,
but trying to help each other live.
Peace is not being perfect,
but trying to be better.
Peace is not wanting to die,
but not being afraid to.
Peace is not just a word.
— George Mizo