Gretchen Murphy

Gretchen Murphy (Survivor Corps in Vietnam): Gretchen has considerable experience of volunteering with human rights prior to her fellowship. Her jobs included working with Amnesty International’s International Justice and Accountability Program, and served at International Service for Peace (SIPAZ) in Chiapas, Mexico where she researched the impact of international organizations on indigenous nonviolence movements. Gretchen also interned at International Crisis Group in Washington DC. Where she focused on the role of new media in advocacy and the role of media in creating change. At the time of her fellowship, Gretchen was pursuing her Masters degree at American University’s School of International Service. After her fellowship, Gretchen wrote: “I witnessed some of the most genuine forgiveness I have ever seen. Although I did run across the occasional angry person (often rightfully so) ALL of the survivors I met were nothing but generous and welcoming to me. It was incredibly humbling.”

A Survivor’s Sea

24 Jun
Ngoc Chau Nguyen is a fisherman in Dong Hoi City.  He is also a cluster munitions survivor.  At 61, Ngoc Chau has watched his country go through several transformations–he was a soldier during the war and surviving uninjured he went on to marry and have six children.  He established his fishing business, selling his catch at the local market to support his family.  Then in 2000, while burning the clippings he had cleared from his yard, a long buried bomb exploded, claiming his right hand.
Ngoc Chau

Ngoc Chau

Understandably, Ngoc Chau was angry and frustrated by his loss-especially as a former soldier who was well aware of the danger of UXO.  But perhaps even more than the pain of the injury was the pain of the financial strain his accident put his family.  With no health insurance they had to pay for his treatment on their own, and as a result, the upkeep on his fishing business became more difficult.

Over time and with the aid of his family, neighbors and the peer-support group LSN-V connected him with, Ngoc Chau was able to heal physically and spiritually.  With a renewed outlook on life, he sought to remedy his family’s financial needs.  Through the Economic Opportunities program at LSN-V, Ngoc Chau received a new fishing net-an integral part of his business.  With the new net, his income increased and improved the family’s situation.

Ngoc Chau paddles back from his fishing net

Ngoc Chau paddles back from his fishing net

As he speaks about his experience, Ngoc Chau shares some of the wisdom he has gained over the years: although persons with disabilities face a distinct set of challenges they also posses a unique strength to overcome.  It is society that truly suffers when it fails to recognize a survivor’s capabilities.

Ngoc Chau shares his survivor story

Ngoc Chau shares his survivor story

Posted By Gretchen Murphy

Posted Jun 24th, 2009


  • judy slage

    June 24, 2009


    Hey Gretchen!
    I have seen some of your blogs and your videos. What an experience you are having. i would love to hear some of Chau’s wisdom that he imparted. Great photos too! Hope all is well.

  • Kim Hoa

    June 24, 2009


    Good job, Gretta! Thank you so much for your great contribution to the Survivor cause. 🙂

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