Although we share a common goal, each of the members of the Friends of Danang Steering Committee came to the group with various histories and for different reasons. Because of their involvement in the Friends of Danang, their lives have been enriched. Here, some of the members tell their stories: why they do what they do, who they are, and how working with Friends of Danang has changed lives.
In 1997 I had the good fortune to visit Vietnam with my lifelong friend George, thirty years after both he and I served in the military. We wanted to see that country and its people in peace rather than war.
While there, we were struck not only by the beauty of Vietnam but by the warmth of its people. Vietnamese are hard working, well educated and generally very happy. And they love Americans!
While visiting a run down school with a leaky roof and very poor furnishings, George and I looked around and asked each other if there might be something that he and I could do to improve that situation. We decided to raise money to build a school in Danang. We were joined by Tom and Mary. One year later that school oraljelly.es was dedicated and a dozen committed individuals who joined in our effort were on hand to witness that wonderful experience. This event led to the creation of the Friends of Danang.
I was blessed to have survived the ruins of war and in some small way, I hope through the Friends of Danang, to express my gratitude to God for my good fortune and to assist the Vietnamese who lost so much as the result of that conflict
A special thank
you to all my friends I have made through the Friends of Danang. My family
has grown; my life has become more complete knowing that people care so
much for a country that is very poor and far away - my homeland, where
I grew up. I would never have dreamed as a small girl and young adult
that people so far away could care so much. My life is more complete today
to be involved and working with such a caring, thoughtful and loving organization.
My involvement with Vietnam began in 1967, when I was assigned to a US Air Force fighter/bomber wing at Cam Rhan Bay, South Vietnam. I had very little personal interaction with the people of Vietnam, and the interaction I did have from my fighter plane, was not very pleasant to them, I'm sure. I, like most Vietnam Vets, have conflicting emotions of my time in that beautiful country. It was a time of destruction... like all wars. But after, who's wrong, and who's right seems to be less important than reconciliating our own differences.
The work of Friends of Danang is focused on this reconciliation and giving me an ideal opportunity to reconciliate by giving back. I have found, beyond any imaginable measure, the beauty of the Vietnamese people. After their tremendous losses, their ability to accept me during my two recent visits, both in the northern and southern areas of the country, is, in my mind, astounding, considering my part in their recent history.
I feel priviledged in being able, through our "Let Them Walk Again, Danang" project, to know that our fundraising efforts are making a difference in the lives of so many wonderful Vietnamese children. To work with all of the generous and dedicated people who make up the Friends of Danang is a very special treat.
Christina & Ken:
In the Spring of 1998, we had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam as one of the ports of call on Semester at Sea. We fell in love with the country and its people - especially the children. We are too young to have fought in Vietnam - without these painful memories, we saw only the land's beauty, even through the poverty.
The following year we began the process of adopting two little girls from Vietnam. It took us a very long time, and while we were waiting, one of the girls was taken back by her uncle. Our daughter, Linh, finally came to us in April 2000. She was 10 years old.
We have learned so much from our daughter! In addition to the joys and trials of parenting a young girl, we have learned much about her culture, her life in Vietnam and about ourselves as a family. While many of her memories are sad, she has many happy memories about her village. She has shared Vietnamese traditions and food that have become family traditions for us.
As a family, we wanted to assist other children, but didn't know how until we met the Friends of Danang in the Fall of 2002. Through this work, we will be able to reach hundreds of children and families in Vietnam. Our efforts are dedicated to Linh, the daughter we were able to bring home, and to Tinh, the daughter we will always remember.