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: