Monday, January 4, 2016
We met up with these students at Tu Du Hospital, a highly respected gyn-ob hospital which is the location of one of the largest comprehensive care facilities in Vietnam (world?) for victims of Agent Orange. Four generations after the war crimes of chemical warfare of the USA during the American War, 60 babies and young women and men disabled and orphaned by Agent Orange receive complete medical, school, career training and all possible support at the Peace Village ward. This facility and others around Vietnam do NOT meet the current need!
We were able to meet with the MD (I think she is 84 years old?) who heads the ward -- called Grandmother by all during our visit. She herself is a victim of Agent Orange poisoning as she worked as a medic in some of the hardest hit provinces during the American War. Along with several of her medical colleagues and the HCMC leader of VAVA, Vietnam Agent Orange Victims Association, Mr. Tho, we were given an orientation about the on-going impact of Agent Orange on humans, environment, animals, crops, water as well as the history and services of Peace Village. Mr. Tho was eloquent and patient in clarifying and correcting the blatant lies the students were told by US government officials in HCMC. He and Ms. Hoan, a former Peace Village resident who is now an active leader of VAVA, were so very honest and and open in sharing their stories. The students, who had studied and prepared in advance for the actual visit to Vietnam were deeply impacted by the visit and experience. While both Hollis and I found the visit to be really emotional, it was also inspiring to hear the students learn, discuss and then start committing to action. As always the Vietnamese leadership was strong and motivating.
We ended the day back at TDTU with the American University students where the students found lots of ways to share their student experiences and opinions -- including fun.
The entire day was a great way to launch 2016 as we all meet the challenges of working together for justice and peace.