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.
Eighteen children returned to their families in early 2012 after receiving medical and/or physical therapy, plus education, at the Friendship Village. As of mid-April, eight new children had been admitted; most of them third-generation Agent Orange victims.
One success story features Nguyen Thi Giang, a 17-year-old from Bac Giang Province, a current resident of the Friendship Village who was born with a severe intellectual disability. On a recent weekend visit home, over the course of one day her skin suddenly turned dark purple and her parents rushed her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with both a blood infection and congenital heart disease. The Friendship Village’s doctor arranged for Giang to be treated at Army Hospital 103. A month later, after the blood infection was cured, the hospital’s doctors performed heart surgery for Giang, and she is now doing very well. (Treatment costs were donated by the hospital.)
Visitor Tally: Between January and March 2012, the Friendship Village attracted 172 visitors, plus 22 groups of volunteers from 13 different nations. Volunteers provide assistance in special education classes, the physical rehab room, and the garden.
Congratulations! A troupe of Friendship Village children won Second Prize among 22 groups in a singing and dancing competition organized for disadvantaged children living in Hanoi. These performances bring much joy to those lucky enough to watch them, and the creative activity is a healing force in the children’s lives.
Facility Upgrades: Three of the new residential houses built to replace those damaged in 2008 flooding feature solar-powered hot water systems. Surrounding courtyard and roads have been raised to prevent flooding during heavy rains. A new wastewater system directs water away from the residences and dining hall to a pond outside village walls.
In Gratitude: VFVP-USA wired a contribution of $8,000 to our Vietnamese partners on March 28, 2012, designated for general operating expenses. We thank each and every one of our supporters, whose donations, large and small, make our ongoing support of the Friendship Village possible!
On August 9, 2011, the day before International Agent Orange Day, delegates of the 2nd International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin paid a visit to the Friendship Village where a program was organized to discuss the lingering effects of AO in Viet Nam.
Vietnam Television International was there, and produced this segment documenting the meeting: AO Delegates Visit Van Canh Friendship Village. It features a clip of Director Dang Vu Dung and a few of the international attendees, including several second-generation victims of AO. There is a performance by the children, and I was happy to glimpse a few familiar faces from my past visits to the village. The message of the conference is that the toxic chemicals sprayed in Viet Nam during the American war continue to have devastating effects on families even today, and there continues to be a strong international movement to secure justice and care for the victims.
The Viet Nam Friendship Village in Van Canh, near Hanoi, is one of approximately forty facilities that provide services for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. Our village is supported by the Vietnamese government, in cooperation with a community of international friends.
Today is Tết – the Vietnamese New Year. It is a three-day celebration associated with luck and new beginnings – a time to pay debts, mend broken relationships and renew friendships.
In anticipation of Tết, the Friendship Village prepared a special New Year gift bag for each child and veteran to take home with them when they go to be with their families during the holiday. These gifts were made possible thanks to the contributions of organizations and caring individuals like you, at home and abroad. On the occasion of the Vietnamese New Year, the Vietnam Friendship Village sends everyone wishes for very good health, happiness and prosperity!
We invite you to learn more about Tết and join the celebration by helping to build awareness of the continuing impact of Agent Orange via the Make Agent Orange History campaign, of which we are a partner. Thank you for your support!