Archive for February, 2011

Wake Forest University Reacts to Agent Orange Panel Discussion

 

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Children of Vietnam teaches disabled children vocational skills.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Olivia Collins Boyce, a student in Anthropology and Social Entrepreneurship Studies at Wake Forest University. Olivia volunteers with Children of Vietnam and will be leading a COV volunteer service project this summer. Olivia can be reached at oliviacboyce@gmail.com.

On the evening of February 17, 2011 – 50 students, faculty and community members gathered at Wake Forest University to hear from four experts on the current efforts to address the toxic impact of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Charles Bailey, director of the Ford Foundation’s Special Initiative on Agent Orange, opened the event by showing a news clip and detailing the recent efforts being made to combat the legacy of dioxin.

Following Mr. Bailey, Tam Nguyen, a VIET2010 fellow with a background in social work, gave an enthusiastic presentation on her four months spent working with Children of Vietnam – a humanitarian charity that works with disabled children in Vietnam. She spoke of her personal experiences with clients and case workers, and in particular Children of Vietnam’s Hope System of Care, and left the audience inspired and hopeful that something can and is being done about Agent Orange.

After Nguyen, Duke University Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Dannia Southerland discussed the needs assessments and research she did to create an implementation plan for Hope System of Care – a program that provides comprehensive services such as health care, education and microloans to disabled children and their families.

Lastly, award winning National Geographic photojournalist Catherine Karnow narrated a picture slideshow depicting the stories of two families battling disabilities related to the legacy of Agent Orange. The audience, like Karnow, fell in love with the three children photographed – particularly the energetic 9-year old Ly.

After the more formal presentations, audience members posed questions to the panel. Many questions focused on relations between the Vietnamese government, the U.S. government and the non-governmental organizations working to address Agent Orange in Vietnam. Students and attendees left with a far greater understanding of the impact and solutions to Agent Orange.

Junior Wake Forest student Gary Pasqualicchio commented after the event: “I learned a lot from the panel and really enjoyed discussing the issue with experts”.

Another student, Ashton Astbury added: “I honestly, didn’t know much about Agent Orange before this event, but after listening to the speakers and seeing the effects of Agent Orange on the kids depicted, I want to get more involved.”

 

UK Prudential Group Donates $10 million USD

 

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Prudential headquarters in London. Photo courtesy of ell brown on Flickr.

The Prudential Insurance Group of the United Kingdom recently pledged 10 million U.S. dollars to support charity work in Vietnam. Thirty percent of this funding will be dedicated to helping disabled people still affected by Agent Orange.

As you may recall, in June 2010, the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group outlined a Plan of Action calling on governments, foundations and businesses to invest 300 million dollars over 10 years to clean up the dioxin hot spots and expand humanitarian aid to Vietnam.

Between this and recent U.S. government appropriations, it is clear that we are beginning to see real progress to address legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam. We commend Prudential Insurance for their investment in this public health matter.

 

Give a Heart: Shop at the SPIRAL Foundation

 

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The scars on these children's chests are from life-saving heart surgeries funded by the SPIRAL Foundation.

Valentines Day is over and while the chocolate and candy may be be gone, there’s still plenty of time to give a heart to a disabled child in Vietnam.

The Spiral Foundation, a nongovernmental humanitarian organization that raises funds to support the sick and disabled in Vietnam, together with Make Agent Orange History announce a fundraising campaign to help children with congenital heart disease – many of whom suffer from the toxic impact of Agent Orange.

Between February 8th and April 30, 2011, all profits from the sale of three beautiful crafts, made by disabled artisans at Healing the Wounded Heart Shop in Hue, will help fund heart surgeries for Vietnamese children in need.

In just the final two months of 2010, the SPIRAL Foundation raised more than $82,000 dollars through the sale of these locally made crafts. This money funded a variety of programs and activities in Vietnam – including heart surgeries – and gave 9 Vietnamese children a new lease of life.

 

February Events

 

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Agent Orange_dioxin_Vietnam_eventsFebruary is an active month for Make Agent Orange History. We have four exiting events coming up across the United States. If you live in North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay Area or Seattle, please consider attending one of the following:

February 16th and 17th:

Agent Orange: A Humanitarian Concern We Can Do Something About

35 years after the end of the war, harmful effects of Agent Orange/dioxin contamination are still being felt by millions in Vietnam, including children. Please join us to hear from four dynamic individuals have worked to address the legacy of Agent Orange. This event promises to be highly informative and inspiring.

This event will take place at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University. Follow the hyperlinks below for details and to RSVP.

Wednesday, February 16th, 6:00PM: University of North Carolina

Thursday, February 17th, 11:00AM: Wake Forest University

Thursday, February 17th, 6:00PM:

The Little Red Envelope Fundraiser

Children of Vietnam helps children with disabilities by providing health care, education, accessible housing, job training and more. This event will feature special guest National Geographic photojournalist Catherine Karnow and all donations will be matched dollar for dollar by Bob Page of Replacements, Ltd.

This event will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina. Learn more and RSVP here.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 5:00PM:

Agent Orange: A Humanitarian Concern We Can Do Something About

Please join us to hear how two dynamic individuals – Son Michael Pham of Kids Without Borders and VIET2010 fellow Jodie Ha Pham – have worked to address the legacy of Agent Orange and what you can do. This event will demonstrate that Agent Orange is a humanitarian concern we can do something about by showcasing the work of some of our efforts most passionate advocates. Please RSVP here.

Friday, February 25th, 11:30AM:

Addressing the Legacy of Agent Orange

Wars don’t end when the guns fall silent. The legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin contaminated soils has placed a heavy burden of disability on people in Vietnam as well as on American veterans, and continues to be a challenge. Drawing on extensive experience in today’s Vietnam, the speakers will show how this is a humanitarian concern we can do something about.

The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco hosts this event. Learn more and RSVP here.

 

Life is Beautiful Campaign Gives the Disabled a Happy Tet

 

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Handover (of gifts) ceremony in Ha Nam.

1,750 disabled people in Vietnam received a little something extra to celebrate Tết. The Life is Beautiful campaign – an international humanitarian effort to raise funds for the disabled in Vietnam – arranged for a small gift to be given to people  in 21 provinces. The gifts were funded by donors in the Ukraine and Russia, and from the auction of two “Thang Long Dragons” in the Ukraine. The Vietnam Red Cross, Vietnam Television and the East Meets West Foundation distributed the presents.

 

Celebrate Tet

 

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Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! (Happy New Year)

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Boy in a dragon costume celebrates Tết in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo courtesy of alex.ch on Flickr.

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.

Given the progress that has been made over the last year to clean up Agent Orange in Vietnam, these new beginnings are of the utmost relevance to the millions of people still being affected by this toxic herbicide.

Join the celebration by helping to build awareness of the continuing impact of Agent Orange and observing one of the many Vietnamese traditions associated with Tết.

If you are new to Tết – take a look at our Facebook page and Twitter profile for ideas. Then just write a short Facebook post, email or Tweet about what you are doing to celebrate. For example:

Facebook: Happy Vietnamese New Year! Tết is a time of celebration and new beginnings; a time to pay debts, forgive enemies and renew friendships. I’m celebrating by [insert what you are doing to celebrate Tết]. Learn more at http://makeagentorangehistory.org/celebrate-tet
Twitter: Happy Vietnamese New Year! I’m celebrating Tết by [insert what you are doing to celebrate Tết]. http://bit.ly/fpeuwa #tet #agent orange.
Email: Dear Friend:

Happy Vietnamese New Year! Tết is a special three-day holiday associated with luck and new beginnings. Vietnamese traditionally give gifts; exchange greetings associated with health and prosperity; and decorate their homes to celebrate.

I’m celebrating by {insert what you are doing to celebrate Tết]. Learn more at http://makeagentorangehistory.org/celebrate-tet and join me in bringing in the New Year!

And by the way – we’d love to hear what you’re doing to celebrate, too. Please leave a comment on this blog or send a picture to info@makeagentorangehistory.org.

 

Cleveland Plain Dealer takes on the legacy of Agent Orange

 

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“When the Vietnam Reporting Project first called – I’m embarrassed to say this – I said ‘there’s a problem with Agent Orange in Vietnam?’”

That’s Vietnam Reporting Project fellow and Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Connie Schultz explaining her motivation to write a six part special report on Agent Orange that ran in Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Unfinished Business: Suffering and sickness in the endless wake of Agent Orange” is an excellent piece that takes the reader on a trip with Heather Bowser – a woman born a limb and a few fingers short – from her memories of growing up in a small town in Ohio to her courageous visit to the country that has haunted her family for so many years. In Vietnam, Heather discovers a world she never imagined.

Eight pages and a remarkable journey later, Schultz comes full-circle and leaves us with a simple dialogue that took place between her and a U.S. customs official in Houston:

“‘How long were you in Vietnam?’ (the official) asked, examining my journalist’s visa.

‘Eight days,’ I said.

‘What were you doing there?’

‘Reporting on Agent Orange.’

He looked up, stared at me for a few moments.

‘Agent Orange?’ he said. ‘Isn’t that old news?’

Please help spread the word about this tragic impact by sharing this story with your friends and family. You can post to Facebook, email, Tweet it, use a telephone… or do whatever you like.


Videos from the Report:

Cleveland Plain Dealer investigative reporter Connie Schultz sums it up

“Agent Orange: How it works and its aftereffects”

“A vet’s last stand”

“Vietnam vet’s fight final battle”