Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Inspiration

Last January, when we first arrived in Ho chi Minh City, we met Harry Pham Van Anh. He organized the book fair that we did under the auspices of Global Village Foundation. Harry's group is actually ECO Vietnam.

Since January we have been corresponding with this tireless young man, who has told us the stories of his many projects. He is very involved with the emerging concept of service education and has worked with teams of volunteers from Vietnamese and Singaporean universities.

His latest project was no mean feat. With a large crew of medical professionals and young volunteers he travelled to remote regions of Bac Lieu in the Mekong Delta. The team braved torrential rains as they motored by sampan down the river in torrential rains, to deliver free medical assessments to the Kho Me, one of Vietnam's ethnic tribes.

There are 100 pictures of the project....the crew huddling under tarps to keep themselves and the medical supplies dry.....scrambling ashore through the muck.....organizing the event and setting up systems....happy, grateful faces of the villagers.....all on ECO's Face Book page.

It is our fond wish at Journeys of the Heart that we might be able to work with Harry again in the future.

In the meantime, we wish him all the best and send our encouragement to him and his team for a job well done.

It is wonderful to witness this new movement of Vietnamese helping Vietnamese, when in the past there has been such a reliance on foreign NGO's to solve their social issues.

Thanks Harry.


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Reaching Out Tea House is Number One!

It is incredible to think that there are 278 restaurants and coffee shops in Hoi An on the central coast of Vietnam. True, this lovely heritage town, has become a tourist haven but to us it is "home" where we live and work every year and this number seems overwhelming.

Even more delightfully surprising is that the Reaching Out Tea House, (opened in January) has, after five short months achieved the rating of Number One on Trip Advisor.

The staff at the Tea House have consistently delivered excellent food and service and our customers are recognizing that quality.

But most heartening of all is that almost every review describes the tranquility of the unique experience of silent service and the graciousness of the speech and hearing impaired staff.

We at Journeys of the Heart could not be prouder! This new social enterprise has proven to be a magnet for travellers looking for a unique and traditional Vietnamese experience and most importantly has created work experiences for the disabled staff to interact with the hearing world and share their pride in
being part of this success story.

Check out the Reaching Out Tea House on Trip Advisor and Facebook to see more pictures and read the reviews!!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Launch promotes Journeys of the Heart

At last!!!! We have launched our book Back To Vietnam: Tours of the Heart.

 Friends and neighbours on our home island Salt Spring, on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada gathered to wish us well and hear a few stories from our recently published book.

The lovely Adina Hildebrandt of Salt Spring Books, along with her husband Andrew hosted the event. Adina is a lover of books and theatre and her gracious opening of the evening set the tone for an evening of listening, laughter and insightful questions from the audience.

Arthur Black, a legend in Canadian literature and broadcasting had endorsed our book, even though his first read of Back to Vietnam was a rough copy, spiral bound. He introduced us and our memoir with a sprinkling of his usual humour.

Bruce and I both read passages from the book and then we had a question and answer session. Of course there were questions about the "American" war, Agent Orange, the current political situation in Vietnam etc. But we also were pleased that some of the members of the audience were very interested to know about the work we do ...our Journeys of the Heart....and how one might help. We received promises of donations, more promised hand knit bandages AND even some interest in coming to Vietnam to help out!

What more could we ask? Friends, family and neighbours were there to wish us well with our book, to share our excitement and sense of accomplishment and most of all to support our continuing work in Vietnam.

Thank you Salt Spring for a super book launch!

You can order a copy at