January 2016 visit to Vietnam

In January, 2016, my sister Rose White and I went to Vietnam to work with the Warm Hold Association Team in support of children with HIV/AIDs. It was a great experience for me to travel with my wonderful sister and together work on a very important project. As always, thanks to Hoang and the Warm Hold Association Team for their incredible leadership, passion, resourcefulness and work on this project. They continue to make a difference in the lives of so many. Following is a brief summary of some of our activities. Thanks to all who have provided support for these kids and the activities of this team. I hope you enjoy the following stories and photos. Peace to all…..dan

  1. These two beautiful children, Thach Chi Hoa (14 years old) and Thach Thi Thu Lan (11) are brother and sister both with HIV. (see photos below).  Their parents died of AIDS and they are now living with their grandmother who is around 80 years old. Also, sharing the house is a 22 year old single woman who has her own daughter. This single woman supports the 5 people in the household by picking up nails and crafts in the rice field in the morning and making roof leaf panels in the afternoon. The children were also very skilled and making the roof leaf panels as they demonstrated for us and as you can see in the photo. The current house is inadequate and not safe for this expanded family.  The Warm Hold team is working with the family to improve their living conditions by providing a solid floor for the house (now dirt), brick wall (now leaf panels), a toilet and other improvements. We are also addressing other issues like nutrition and education.

Brother and Sister - January 2016 c

2. Kim Vy Thay,  (11 years old) lives in Tra Vinh province. He has HIV and his parents died of AIDS. He is now living with his aunt and uncle. Also in the house are one other child and two elderly and sick grandparents. This couple carries a huge burden to not only care for themselves, their child and the grandparents, but now a child with HIV.  After school, the boy will sell lottery tickets to earn a small income for transportation costs to get to the medical clinic for his HIV treatments. When I met Kim Vy  Thay, his health condition was very poor and beyond the local medical professionals’ capacity to support him. So, the Warm Hold team has taken him to a hospital in HoChiMinh city where he is now being treated for lung problems. I am waiting for new word on his condition. The priority of the Warm Hold team is to first get this kid healthy. Then, we can address other issues like housing repair support, and daily food so he does not need to sell lottery tickets. We pray for his health and recovery.

Sick Boy - January 2016

3. As you may recall, last year we built a house for Nguyen Minh Phuoc, who has HIV, and lives with his grandmother. When I met them last year, they were living in extremely poor conditions. The grandmother had just been bitten by a snake and she desperately needed treatment. We provided support for her to get medical attention. I am happy to report that the family is doing well in their new home. Further the local district Women’s Union provided them with a baby cow. This will provide some income for them and especially if the cow some day births a calf. I’m very proud of the work of the Warm Hold team and other local supporters for making a huge difference in the lives of these two people.

Snake Bite Woman and Child

4. I have reported in previous updates about Thuy and Nhu, two sisters with HIV living with their aunt and uncle, two cousins and a grandmother. This is the first time I have visited them in their new home. I can’t tell you how excited I was to see these wonderful kids. I am pleased to report that the girls and family are doing well. Their new home is amazing. A couple of new updates. One of the local Warm Team members is donating 5 pigs to the family to raise income. Also, another team member donated a calculator. My sister and I are planning on providing the girls a computer in January 2017. We had a good discussion with the family about the importance of education for these girls. (See Aug. 20, 2015 update and Oct. 10, 2014 update). Again, I am very proud of the Warm Hold team for their excellent work in support of these girls and their new family.

Sisters - January 2016

5. We made a visit to Tra Vinh province where we met with many  children with HIV and their caretakers. Each year during the Tet New Years Holiday, we give each of the kids a New Year gift of food, other items and ”Lucky Money”. This is an important holiday like our Christmas and these gifts become an important part of their holiday.  This gathering is always an opportunity to get updates from the kids, talk to the caretakers about important issues, and engage with the local medical staff. Also, for the kids to participate in social activities with other who share their condition. A couple of key learnings from this visit was that a large number of children are being displaced from school because of their HIV condition. Also, some of the kids are taken out of school and put to work. These are serious issues and we are in discussion about how we can best provide support to get these kids the education they deserve.

Tay Ninh Gather ing - January 2016

6. In HoChiMinh City, we met with many of the children and their caretakers. This is always special to me since I have known many of these kids and their caretakers since 2007. It is amazing to see them growing up, going to high school and now one boy entering college. One of my very special friends (second photo down on the left side), was recently taken out of school and put to work full time.  This is a tough situation as she is being raised by her elderly grandmother who can’t work and has a child with HIV to raise. We are working to get her education back on track by working with a tutor who can work with her after her work hours. On the photo on the top, you can see some of the Warm Hold Team Volunteers including Director Hoang (second from right), and Dr. Binh, standing next to me. That’s my sister Rose on the right. It was a joyful afternoon spending time with people I care about deeply.

HCMC Gathering - January 2016

Thanks again for all your encouragement and support for these kids as we work to give them hope for a better life.

Peace to all….dan

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