Chi Vu

Chi Vu (Survivor Corps in Vietnam - LSN-V): Chi spent two years of her childhood in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines, where she received an exceptional education in NGO schools. In the years since, she has worked on several community initiatives, which include teaching Vietnamese language to kids in Little Saigon. She graduated from Yale in 2005 with a BA in English and certification to teach English at the secondary level. At the time of her AP fellowship, Chi was pursuing a Master’s degree in international educational development at Teachers College, Columbia University. After her fellowship, Chi wrote: "This Fellowship has deepened my understanding of the kind of cooperation and teamwork that is needed to effectively operate a grassroots organization, to successfully work for a cause that not too many people are familiar with. LSN-V is special in that it works closely with individuals at all community levels, from survivors to government officials. From these close working relationships, I had to opportunity to learn about how LSN-V works on an operational level while forming interpersonal relationships at the same time."

Mr. Quang and his family: A profile in fortitude

21 Aug

“With a sewing machine, I can make about 45,000 dong a day,” said Mr. Quang, as he sat on his front porch with Mr. Quyen and Mr. Hoc. He was discussing a business plan with the two LSN-V staff members, explaining how, with a new sewing machine, he’ll be able to work as a tailor at the Dong Hoi central market while his wife sells crabs and other crustacea. (To put it in perspective: 45,000 Vietnamese dong is just under $3 US. Per capita income in Vietnam was $726 as of December 2007, according to the US Department of State.)

This plan isn’t as simple as it seems. Mr. Quang has always been a tailor, except for the years he spent in the army during the Vietnam War. In 1978, a few years after the war ended and he became a civilian again, he stepped on a landmine while walking in the forest around Dong Hoi. He lost his right leg and sustained severe injuries. After long periods of rehabilitation, he eventually recovered, took up his trade again, and got married. His family now consists of his wife and their two children, a 10-year old boy and an 8-year old girl.

Photo credit: Chi Vu
Mr. Quang’s two children look on as he talks to Mr. Quyen and Mr. Hoc of LSN-V.

About three years ago, the family’s situation became difficult when Mr. Quang’s wife was stricken with a heart condition that often renders her bedridden. Mr. Quang sold all his sewing equipment to pay for her treatment and medication, but her condition hasn’t improved. Now, the family does its best to cope: on the days that she feels strong enough, Mr. Quang drives his wife to the market where she sells fresh crab. Their children help out at home. They do very well in school and both receive scholarships that cover school fees. (On the day of our visit, they’re shyly playful and provided some cheer to an otherwise somber conversation).

Photo credit: Chi Vu
It’s their father’s wheelchair

Mr. Quang is now working with LSN-V to get his tailoring business back on track. He and Mr. Hoc, the outreach worker who has been his liaison with LSN-V, have worked together on his individual recovery plan and economic opportunity plans. Mr. Quang also attends meetings with his local self-help club and has been visited by veteran self-help club members. As an LSN-V survivor, he will be tracked and supported for the next two years as he uses the sewing machine that LSN-V has contributed to rebuild his business and support his family. With this support network, the future appears more optimistic for Mr. Quang and his family.

Photo credit: Chi Vu

Posted By Chi Vu

Posted Aug 21st, 2008

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