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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Charity Mission - Buon Me Thuoc, Vietnam

Back in February, I received a message from a blog reader Audrey who just wanted to say hello and express her appreciation. After a few lines back and forth between us, she mentioned that she’s from Massachusetts and was currently on vacation in Buôn Mê Thuột, Việt Nam. Our charity connection started from here when I asked her if she has come across any villages in dire humanitarian crisis. Coincidentally, her mother-in-law who lives in Việt Nam often do charity work for the poor, especially the minority groups. And in fact, she and her mother-in- law just visited a minority group in a remote village in Buôn Mê Thuột a couple days ago. They gave away sweet treats and used clothes to the children. As you can see in the pictures, the children appear hungry, barefoot, wrapped in soiled clothing.

Buôn Mê Thuột is the capital city of Dak Lak Province, in the Central Highlands of Việt Nam. The city is the largest in Central Highlands region of Việt Nam, and is famous as the regional "capital of coffee". It was originally settled by the Ê Đê ethnic group (Ê Đê translates to ‘Thuột’s father’s village’) but due to the incoming Vietnamese settlement after the Việt Nam War, and the active acculturation policy, less than 15% are still Montagnards. Native ethnic groups with poor education are often treated unfairly and forced to sell their farmlands for dirt cheap. And some are kicked out of their villages to more remote places. Consequently, many no longer have land to cultivate. They have to work for the farmers a couple of months a year during the harvest season and the rest of the year they are unable to find jobs to put food on the table. Forests, which are the means of their existence, have disappeared as the trend of deforestation and more industrial farming takes over. In one of the pictures, you will see they live among the coffee and black pepper land but by no means this is their property. Those farmlands belong to the farmers.

The saddest part is the native ethnic groups are losing their cultural heritages due to poverty, economic and social changes. They have sold their traditional wood houses, musical instruments and other cultural artifacts for a living, while the ethnic youth are not able to afford to make traditional items as their ancestors did. It’s been many years since the Vietnamese government exert strict controls over the province, yet these ethic groups still lag behind in living standards.

This is where they cook, eat, sleep, hang out etc..

After a few months working with Sister Anna Hồ Thị Thu Sương who has dedicated her life to working closely with the numerous ethnic groups here in Buôn Mê Thuột. We learnt that these poor people come to Sister Anna for everything. She said many times they came to her at midnight to ask for ointment because their family members have stomachaches. When someone is dying, or about to give birth, she would come to them, comfort them and stay up all night with them. Her work does not stop here. She also provides education for children from these poor families, especially ethnic minority groups, by going to their homes to teach the children for free. Perhaps there are no words that can fully describe the sacrifice of a selfless nun who come to these remote villages on a regular basis.

After seeing the life of these poor people through video clips, and photos from Audrey, and through the voice of Sister Anna, The Spices Of Life is eager to reach out to help improve the well-being of these poor families with three projects:

1. Provide fertilizers to help them grow coffee and black peppers. We will use the method “buy now pay later”. They will pay us back the money after the harvest season. We then use this money to buy more fertilizers for them.

2. Provide water wells so they can have water to drink, clean and farm.

3. Build classrooms for the children so they will have an opportunity to learn and hopefully change their lives.

This piece of land is where we are planning to build the classrooms for the children

This little house is where the poor come to pray. It’s also a place where the nuns teach the children. Only a few children come here since this place is too far for other children to walk here.

While we are looking into these projects, for now, we would like to provide some basic assistance to keep their hearts warm and hopes alive. There are almost 200 families in three remote villages in Buôn Mê Thuột that are in dire need for food, and water. We asked sister Anna to visit each household so we know the situation of each family. In one of the pictures, sister Anna is standing next to the family who is pounding the cassava leaves into a paste so they can eat. They are so poor that they just eat whatever they can find around them. Good nutrition during the early years are vital to the development of these children. Yet hunger and malnutrition continue to kill millions of children each year. We can temporary change the course of this affliction until they can make a living on their own.

The boy is pounding the cassava leaves into a paste so they can eat.

Below is a list of food items The Spices Of Life is planning to provide for nearly 200 families including the 3 ethic groups Ê Đê, Ba Na, and Xê Đăng.

The cost of the food for each family is $12 x 200 families = $2400. Each family will receive:

10 kilograms of rice
1 kilogram of sugar
1 bottle of soy sauce
1 bottle of fish sauce
1 kilogram of salt
1/2 kilogram of MSG
1 litter cooking oil
1 kilogram dried fish
2 bottle ointment

Let me leave you with this thought from one of our greatest thinkers of all time: The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those look on and do nothing. ~Albert Einstein

The beauty is that we can do something about it and we are.

Thank you for looking beyond yourself, beyond your comfort zone to a remote village across the Pacific over 8500 miles away.

She makes my heart smile.

Below is our goal and our current funding:

Our GOAL: $2400

The Spices Of Life: $500
Bác Mười (Sacramento, Ca) $20
Cô Tám (Westminster, Ca) $20
c Trâm (Boston, Ma) $200
c Vân (Elk Grove, Ca) $500
Ngân (Elk Grove, Ca) $200
Lisa P $50
c Mai N $200
MỹTiên N $50
Hiếu N $20
Phương N $50
Thanh Deekrich $40
Krysty Emery $20
Kaitlin N $100
Lien Van $100
Oanh C $20
Karen T $50
Bích & Linh (Australia) $100
David P $50
Tina C $12
Vu Dung $50
Hue Ly $30
Nhu L (San Jose, Ca) $100
Thao La $50
Kim D (San Francisco, Ca) $25
Mary Vo $100
Viet Le $100
Cynthia C (Tampa, FL) $100
Xinhnhi $50
Uyên Le $200
HongYen P $300
Du Doan $100
Joanne Y $20
Ida L $100
Serena Tantivitoon $60
Niki D $50
Teresa Ha $120
Xuan-Hoa $120
Ha T $20
KhanhLinh T $100
Ashley&Minh $100
Alex C $40
Jenny A $50
Thuyet D $100
Stacie F $100
Teresa M $12.71
NguyetAnh V $100
Hannie $50
James Wu $100
My Tran $100
Kristine Van $300
Nathalie N $50
Minh Thu $200
Ana T $50
Jane Cady $100
Awesome OC Moms $200
Linh Wheeler $120
Nghia Thach $50
Thuy N $25
Bao Quyen $25
Tuyet/Mai N $250
Leslie T $30
Pamela Menapace $100
Thuy/Tue $50
AnhThu D $20
Bianca Loana $50
Tonhi $150
Janet Yang $100
Ariel $100
Thu N $50
Kevin&Tina $100
Amy Ly $15
Ronnie Fong $25
Terry Lock $50
Anh Rohrbach $100
Margie Tran $100
Linda Tran $100
Anh-Dao $50
Linda Le $500
My Thai $200
Lauren N $50
My-Linh L $50
Tracy Le $50
Tammy N $50
David Pack $50
Thanh Le $50
Bichsa N $100
c Duyen $100
Hanh N $24
Kathryn Brandt $100
Nina Nguyet $50
Huyen Phan $200
Han Pham $24
Cynthia Chau $200
Trinity Lam $100
Kristy Wu $100
A.L $100

TOTAL Current Funding: $9605.71

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