Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thank You to our Donors!

We are feeling like Santa's helpers these days.....getting ready to leave for Vietnam with a sack full of goodies! We love being your emissaries and carrying your generous gifts to the people with whom we work.

In a year when we have all felt the pinch economically, our donors have made this the most bountiful year for Journeys of the Heart. We will be able to provide more funds this year for our usual projects : library books for remote village schools; tuition to enable girls to continue with school, loans for victims of Agent Orange to start a home based business and also to pay for training for disabled artisans. 

Your overwhelming generosity this year has also allowed for a small fund for discretionary projects once we get to Hoi An. 

As I scanned the web for pictures of children in Vietnam, I was struck by the irony of this photo, juxtaposed with the one above of jolly old Saint Nicholas. These wandering street children have probably collected plastic water bottles from the garbage which they will sell for pennies so that they will eat for one more day. Journeys of the Heart may be able to feed some of these kids this year.

We leave for Vietnam on January 16th and will be making regular posts to keep you all informed about how your dollars are helping the Vietnamese. 

Blessings of the Season

            Cam On!                                                      Thank You!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reaching Out at Christmas

The Vietnamese love festivals and celebrations, including Christmas. For the Christian population it is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, for others it is a time to light up their shops and homes and give gifts.

For Reaching Out, the social enterprise where we volunteer, it is a busy season as tourists and locals alike seek out the beautiful, unique and authentic crafts made by disabled artisans.

In these troubled economic times, tourist traffic and thus sales have diminished for Reaching Out and full employment of their staff is now threatened. However Binh and Quyen plan to open a Tea House soon, to diversify and attract more customers. The Tea house will be staffed by speech and hearing impaired servers, absorbed from the gift shop. What a lovely enjoy a cup of organic Vietnamese tea in a quiet and gracious atmosphere.

Some of our Journeys of the Heart funds will go to supporting the training for these servers.

If you would like to sponsor training please let us know at


Friday, November 9, 2012

VAVA Voom!!!!

Two years ago, we suggested to the Hoi An Chapter of VAVA (Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange) that developing a micro-loan program would enable victims to start a home based business that would enable them to earn a living and become self-supporting, rather than relying on handouts.

We are happy to report that the program has been initiated by Miss Hoa, Mr.Tinh and their assistant Phuong. The success after 11 months, with the help of seed money from Journeys of the Heart, is very heartening.

So far 12 families have borrowed money. Ten have borrowed sums of $200 US and two families have borrowed $500 US, like the woman in the picture above. The thatch business is prospering and they have been able to repay $225 of their $500 interest free loan.

This woman, whose daughter is disabled wanted to start a knitting business, not only so that she could earn money, but also teach her daughter to knit so that one day she too will be able to earn an income.

The concept has had such positive results that VAVA has also convinced a French NGO, VNED to become involved in the program.

We are thrilled with the success of this initiative and are hopeful that more of our supporters will see the merits of this approach and jump on our fund raising bandwagon.

Each year more children are born disabled and studies are currently being conducted in Quang Nam Province that is testing children of parents who have been exposed to Agent Orange, with shocking results. The levels of dioxin in their systems is double and triple the acceptable amount.

Huynh Theo's son is so severely disabled that he could not possibly provide for himself, but his parents are seeking a loan so that they can raise chickens or ducks or perhaps make fishing nets.

Will you help? We will be happy to deliver your gift when we go to Hoi An in January.

e-mail us at: 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Books for Kids in the Mekong Delta

We have been delivering portable libraries to remote villages in Quang Nam Province with Le Ly Hayslip's Global Village Foundation for about five years.

This year we have an opportunity to expand our horizons and travel to the Mekong Delta with Le Ly's Ho Chi Minh City staff to deliver books.

The Mekong Delta is called the "rice bowl" of Vietnam as much of the nations rice production happens here in the rich soil of the river delta. Fishing is also a prime industry and although tourism has begun to bring some prosperity to the region, poverty remains severe.

Renowned for the culture of river living, open floating markets teeming with colorful fruits, vegetables, noodles and fish and mysterious estuaries lined with mangrove forests, hunger is not far from the surface of the brave faces which the tourists see. Fickle weather, floods and price fixing are constant threats to the livelihoods eked out here in the delta.

Children often work with their parents to grow the produce or sell it or cook it from their stilt or floating houses.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that these kids have access to books?

One portable library of about 250 books costs $500 US.

So far Journeys of the Heart has enough funds for two such libraries. Our aim is to be able to take five boxes of books to the Delta. We have a ways to go but we know that it will happen!!!

Perhaps your book club, neighbours, colleagues or sports team would like to sponsor a library. Let us know!

Update: December 29th, 2012
We did it!!!! The cheque is on it's way to Global Village Foundation for five book boxes!!!! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

We’re off again, on a Journey of the Heart!

Even without going to Vietnam during 2012, we have had a very busy, rewarding and heart warming year, continuing to support our causes from afar. We look forward to again being "on the ground” in January 2013 to work with all the inspiring people who have become friends and colleagues over the years.

The courage we witness each and every day in Hoi An has taught us to be ever mindful of the gifts of freedom, health, mobility and opportunity that we enjoy here on our bucolic island. The compassion and co-operation, joy and resilience of the Vietnamese, often despite very difficult conditions, remind us that gifts from the heart are the richest of gifts. Agent Orange continues to cause disabilities and birth defects, thus we are committed to continue our partnership with the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange to provide micro-loans to victims eager to earn a living.

These two young Montagnard girls will benefit from the portable libraries delivered to their remote village of Hiep Duc and we are eager to once again deliver the hope of a better future through education to more children by working with Global Village Foundation to bring book boxes to schools. Making book marks is fun!

This is Dung (pronounced Yoom)...he is very proud to sell the exquisite crafts made by his fellow disabled employees at Reaching Out, a fair trade social enterprise where we have worked as volunteer advisors for five years and where generous Journeys of the Heart donors have sponsored new trainees, so that more people with different abilities can become independent and integrate into their communities.Every year we see the addition of creative new products and the inclusion of more craftspeople, more dreams fulfilled and more smiles!

Kim Anh’s father is very proud of his daughter, who through Children’s Education Fund and Journeys of the Heart, has been able to leave her village, (where many suffer the debilities from leprosy) along with eleven contemporaries to go to school in the city of Da Nang. Her Dad is clutching a precious gift of hand knit bandages for sufferers of leprosy.

If one of our projects captures your heart, please send us a cheque made out to: “Journeys of the Heart” (designating which project) in either US or Canadian funds. Mail to: Elaine Head and Bruce Logan, 105 Hilltop Road, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 1V9, Canada.

We are very grateful that we are able to deliver your gifts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Courage: One Step at a Time

The staff at Reaching Out, the social enterprise where we dedicate our volunteer services annually in Hoi An, recently sent the staff on a holiday to the city of Hue.

It is remarkable that these young people embark on such a journey, but it is even more remarkable when one considers the challenges inherent in travelling with a disability. As I browsed the many pictures of this outing, I was stuck by the courage and fortitude shown to get to the shrines, pagodas, and the citadel in this ancient city, where Imperial Vietnam is celebrated and remembered.

How fortunate the staff is at Reaching Out, that Binh and Quyen who manage the enterprise, understand that the independence developed through travel is an essential benefit.

The trip also included a visit to the Hope Center, where they met fellow craftsmen and women, sharing techniques and stories.

The brilliant smiles in all of the pictures are a testament to the pure joy which the travellers and revellers experienced. How lucky they are to be a part of the Reaching Out lucky we are to be part of that family too, when we are in Hoi An.

Stay tuned for news of the opening of the new Reaching Out teahouse where even more persons of disability will be given an opportunity for training and employment.

Do let us know if you would like to support the continuing growth of this enterprise, by sponsoring a new trainee.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Yesterday, Bruce and this year's Tours of Peace group visited An Loc. During the war this was an area of severe fighting. Many lives were lost on both sides, but it was at a memorial near the mass graves of more than 3000 Vietnamese that the group participated in a special rite of remembrance, lighting incense and offering prayers led by their Vietnamese hosts.

The school building in the top right corner of the collage, still shows walls riddled with bullet holes.

The journey has once again been one of healing and reconciliation.

All of this has been made possible through our dear friend and colleague Le Ly Hayslip, with whose organization Global Village Foundation we have worked for several years, delivering portable libraries to remote schools. Le Ly made all the contacts and organized with local people to ensure that the ceremonies were enacted according to tradition.Her efforts have created a rich experience for the returning American veterans, their family members and survivors. ( check the webiste for GVF on the sidebar)

It seems apt that as the 40th Anniversary of the Reunification of Vietnam and the end of the long and bitter war approaches, that both sides gathered together to remember the dead and to hope together that "never again"  will so many lives be sacrificed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another trip with Tours of Peace for Bruce

Bruce leaves May 22 for another trip to Vietnam, as Deputy Tour Leader for a group of veterans returning with Tours of Peace. While Bruce plays a key role in locating the sites of significance for the other veterans on the tour, he is also very involved in the humanitarian projects which are a critical component of the healing process for the veterans.

It was through TOP, back in 2006 that we witnessed the breadth of need among the poor in this country struggling to take its place in the modern world after centuries of war and most recently the American war, which devastated the infrastructure and left behind the poisonous effects of Agent Orange. TOP led us to our decision to raise funds and work there.

One of our greatest joys is returning year after year and seeing again old friends, who by now expect us on an annual basis, and are excited to share their news with us ( as we are with them!)

Pictures help to fill the gaps in our conversations as we continue to struggle with the tonal Vietnamese language. No one seems to mind  and smiles and hugs need no translation!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Keeping Children In School


Lately we have been working with the Children's Education Foundation's  founder Linda Hutchinson-Burn in Hoi An and her colleague in New York City to find good matches for our contributors to sponsor amongst the many on their waiting list who are hoping to stay in school.  

CEF ( see website link on the sidebar) has been doing good work in Vietnam for about ten years. Recently, as inflation escalates and the gulf between rich and poor becomes greater, Linda has been beset with requests for support. The children at risk are from single parent families; are being cared for by grandparents other relatives or nuns; or have one or both parents ill with life threatening illness...any number of tragic circumstances that threaten their continuing  education in a country where school fees are prohibitive for the poor. 

The focus for CEF in the past has been on education for young girls but as more families become destitute, some boys are now included on the CEF list. More and more the needs grow for supplements to cover food for kids suffering from malnutrition and for school supplies and uniforms, as well as tuition.

The challenges are becoming greater and greater for Linda and CEF to meet all of the requests for support.  

We are committed to creating awareness through Journeys of the Heart about this fine organization and its dedicated founder, her small staff and a corps of volunteers, in Hoi An, Vietnam, in Australia, in the US and in Canada.

The pictures above illustrate some of the conditions in which these children live, in thatched or tin roofed cottages with rudimentary kitchens. but they are loved by their caregivers who are only too aware that education will help break the cycle of poverty.

The bicycle , being ridden by one of the CEF kids was donated by a departing expat and now getting to school for this young Miss is a 15 minute bike ride rather than a one hour walk each way.

This beautiful young face tells the story of her yearning not only to stay  in school, but to stay with her father, a widower, whose own health concerns have caused him to contemplate giving up his children. The picture was taken while he talked with Linda about his plight. Blessedly this young girl's fervent wish for the family to stay together and for her to be able to go to school has now been answered through CEF.

Many thanks to all of our donors who have chosen CEF as an avenue to share their good fortune. And many thanks to Linda, for her inspiration and devotion.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Just look at this smile! This gentleman is Kim Anh's Dad. his leprosy has been arrested but he was so happy to receive the bandages that were delivered to his village from Salt Spring Island where a group of us have been knitting for the D.O.V.E. Fund Bandage Brigade. A group from Salt Spring who went on tour to Vietnam earlier this year volunteered to deliver these precious hand made bandages. The group stuffed the bandages in the nooks and crannies of their suitcases and then left them with friends in the town of Hoi An for eventual delivery to the leprosy village of Hoa Van. 

I will try to briefly recount the events in this lovely serendipitous chain of events.
  • Bruce and I visited Hoa Van leprosy village with Le Ly Hayslip and the Global village foundation in  2008 bearing gifts of blankets, food and bandages
  • We returned to the village in 2009 again with Global Village Foundation along with our neighbours Stan and Marie, again taking food and bandages
  • In the meantime, with the support and encouragement from Linda Stoker and her D.O.V.E. Fund Bandage Brigade in the USA, Canadian women began to knit up a storm
  • We met Linda Hutchinson-Burn, founder of Children's Education Fund, headquartered in Hoi An where we work each year
  • CEF began to sponsor promising young scholars from Hoa Van leprosy village so that they could complete high school
  • Journeys of the Heart loved the idea that children from Hoa Van and began to channel some funds to CEF in 2010.
  • Kim Anh was one of the first children from the village to be sponsored by Journeys of the Heart
So many people and so many organizations connecting to ensure that these sweet people gain some relief from their poverty and discomfort.