Archive for June, 2011

A Faith-Based Reflection on Agent Orange

 

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A moment of introspection on the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.

On June 9th, Interfaith Voices, a leading radio news magazine on religion, politics and culture, took an in-depth look at the lasting legacy of Agent Orange. In the program, “Agent Orange: Why the War Isn’t Over,” host Maureen Fiedler speaks with four experts and advocates of long-term solutions to Agent Orange in Vietnam:

  • Heather Bowser: An American woman presumably affected by her father’s exposure to Agent Orange during the war.

The program asks each panelist a fundamental question – how does your faith affect your work on Agent Orange? In one example, Connie Schultz tells us: “Growing up my Mom used to say to us, ‘God loves everyone, no exceptions’… going to Vietnam, I don’t spend any time looking for how we’re different. We’re all God’s children.” Schultz goes on to say how this view informs her concern for both the Vietnamese and American victims of Agent Orange.

Are you a person of faith who has witnessed the tragic impact of Agent Orange? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

 

U.S. and Vietnam Begin Cleanup of Toxic Hot Spot in Da Nang

 

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Last Friday marked the beginning of the first phase of the joint U.S.-Vietnam clean up of the toxic “hot spot” in Da Nang. Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense will begin by sweeping the area for landmines and unexploded ordnance. Once this is complete, they will work with the U.S. Agency for International Development to remove dioxin from the soil and sediment using a process known as “in situ thermal desorption.” The ground will be heated to extremely high temperatures of more than 700 degrees Fahrenheit to remove contaminants.

During the kickoff ceremony, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Virginia Palmer quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who remarked that the dioxin in Da Nang is “a legacy of the painful past we share,” but that the cleanup project is “a sign of the hopeful future [Vietnam and the U.S.] are building together.”

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VA Improves Delivery of Benefits to U.S. Veterans for Conditions Associated with Agent Orange

 

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In August of 2010, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was adding Parkinson’s disease, ischemic heart diseases and B-cell leukemia to the list of conditions the VA recognizes to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin. This made veterans who suffer from these conditions and their families eligible to receive benefits.

At the urging of U.S. Senator Al Franken, the VA recently announced improvements to the systems in place for delivering these benefits. These improvements include increased resources dedicated to adjudicating these claims and improved communications with veterans suffering from these conditions via the VA’s website and social media channels.

 

Japanese Filmmaker Establishes Scholarship for Disabled Children Affected by Agent Orange

 

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Masako Sakata with children at the Friendship Village outside Hanoi.

In late 2010, Japanese filmmaker Masako Sakata began raising money for a scholarship to support education and vocational training for disabled children in Vietnam. Called Seeds of Hope, the scholarship is a partnership between Sakata and the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA). An initial investment of $18,000 dollars from about 50 donors in Japan will support a three year scholarship for 20 children affected by Agent Orange.

Sakata was inspired to pursue this when she was in Hanoi last year studying Vietnamese. ‘‘I happened to see a physically handicapped woman, and she told me she wants to be a doctor to help Agent Orange victims like her,’’ Sakata said. ‘‘I was aware at that time that young people like her could achieve independence with some help.’‘

Sakata, the widow of an American veteran who fought in the war in Vietnam, has a deeply personal investment in this issue. “Through meeting victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, I began to heal,” Sakata said. “I also began to realize how important it is for us all to be connected and to help each other.”

To learn more about Seeds of Hope or contribute, visit http://www.seed-o-hope.org/.

 

This International Children’s Day, Help Give Vietnamese Youngsters a New Lease on Life

 

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Today is International Children’s Day, a day founded almost 100 years ago to celebrate the well-being of children around the world. And in honor of some of the world’s neediest children, the Life Is Beautiful (LIB) campaign is highlighting stories of Vietnamese children whose lives can be transformed with just a bit of support. Consider making a contribution through LIB that will help these children – and others like them – lead full and healthy lives.

MAOH_AgentOrange_Dioxin_Vietnam_LIB_profile_1Transform the life of a brave little girl with an orthotic brace

Phuong, an eight year old girl from Than Khe district, lives with her mother, younger sister and older brother. They live in 10 x 10 foot room without windows. Phuong suffers from a congenital malformed spine and requires an orthotic brace to walk.

 

MAOH_AgentOrange_Dioxin_Vietnam_LIBprofile2Give Linh the opportunity to stand and walk like other boys his age

Le Ngoc Linh lives a humble life in Yen Hoa Commune in Dien Hong with his parents and his six year old little brother. Though most children are inherently resilient, Linh is exceptional, and has spent the past seven years, since birth, battling cerebral palsy.

 

MAOH_AgentOrange_Dioxin_Vietnam_LIB3aGive relief to sisters suffering from scoliosis

In Phu Yen, a southern province of Vietnam, Thuong and his wife Diem eagerly awaited the birth of each of their three beautiful daughters, Nahn, Dong and Hoa. However, soon after birth, all three babies showed symptoms of the same debilitating condition, scoliosis.

 

Learn about more children in need here.