Wake Forest University Reacts to Agent Orange Panel Discussion

MAOH_Vietnam_Agent Orange_COVimage1

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.”

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Marci Poole
March 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

My father died from Agent Orange in 1985, I was only three years old then. My father went to Duke University in 1985 for help in medical treatment, and pasted five month later. Agent Orange has had a big impact on myself and family for 26 years. Not only did I lose my father to the war, I have lot’s of medical problems myself. It’s not right how I have to fight every day with problems and never stepped out of North Carolina. I can’t get help with the medical problems because there aren’t a lot of doctor that know about Agent Orange. The VA will not help, My mother has tried for 26 years now for answer and help of medical for me, but always a dead end. I would have love to knew about this before now so I could of went to hear one of the speaker. I would love to more about anyone that know if there are a reach still going on any where in NC. I am only 29 years old with three kids, I would like to see them grow. I didn’t get that chance to have my daddy in my life. In need of answer. Thanks

Olivia Boyce
May 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Hi Marci,

Thank you very much for your comment. I am very sorry to hear of the lasting and devastating effects Agent Orange had on your family. The ramifications of war go so much further than the people who are directly involved. Though I am no expert, I am confident Make Agent Orange History is a great place to start to research what potential support could be out there for your family and I know they would be interested in any advocacy or sharing of your story you may be willing to do. Wishing you the best and thank you for your father’s service.