Nguyen Huu Phuc, Nguyen Thi Thanh, and Their Family

A family transitions from rice to cows to provide for their children


Profile by Peace Fellow Marcela De Campos, July 2018

We visited Mr. Phuc’s family on July 4, 2018. They are the ninth Agent Orange Campaign beneficiaries thanks to the generous support of a longtime friend of the AEPD and AP partnership. As a result, the Campaign is on its way to supporting three beneficiaries this year!

Meet Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc’s Family

Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc and his wife, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh, live in the Tuyen Hoa district of the Quang Binh province with their son, Nguyen Van Tam, and daughter, Nguyen Thi Nam. The couple had eight children, five of which are affected by Agent Orange exposure. Of these five, Tam, Nam, and Nguyen The Bay are the surviving three. Two of their siblings passed away “many years ago”. Nguyen The Bay has mental disabilities but is able to live in his own home nearby. He receives 1.4M VND (~$60 USD) per month in Agent Orange compensation.

Nguyen Thi Nam is 28 years old. She was born with cerebral palsy as a result of her family’s Agent Orange exposure. Nam receives 1.4M VND (~$60 USD) per month in Agent Orange compensation. She is completely dependent on her parents’ care-taking and spends most of her time on her bed near the kitchen.

The heat that day was unforgiving. Nam looked comfortable in the coolest area of the home with the fan blowing nearby. I greeted her as I approached and she responded with a smile, tracking the camera as I leaned in to take her portrait. Ms. Thanh smiled gleefully as she watched this interaction.

Nguyen Van Tam is 25 years old. He was born with cerebral palsy as a result of his family’s Agent Orange exposure. Like Bay and Nam, Tam also receives 1.4M VND (~$60 USD) per month in Agent Orange compensation. He spends the majority of his days lying on his bed directly in front of the home’s double doors. The fan cools his skin. During our conversation, Mr. Phuc alternates between sitting on the floor with us and sitting beside Tam, holding his hand gently and caressing his hair. They have a really beautiful bond.

Mr. Phuc Received His Cow and Calf

Mr. Phuc, Mr. Hoc, and Mr. Tam (the cow salesman) pose for a photograph upon the cow and calf’s official purchase. 

In consultation with Mr. Hoc, an AEPD Outreach Worker, Mr. Phuc elected to rear a cow and calf. Mr. Phuc explained that he and his wife are aging and their health is declining. They will use the female cow to produce fertilizer and calves for sale to supplement the income they earn from their 1000 square meters of rice field. The couple used to raise pigs but found it to be too intensive and risky. When they are no longer able to tend to their rice field, they will live primarily from the cow-rearing income.

Visiting Mr. Phuc’s family was made even more special because we witnessed Mr. Phuc receiving his cow and calf from the cow salesman. Mr. Hoc facilitated the sale. The Agent Orange Campaign model requires that the Outreach Worker facilitate the exchange of the resource (in this case the cow and calf) and the money.

Mr. Tam, the cow salesman arrived within minutes and joined us. Mr. Hoc and Mr. Phuc reviewed the business plan and reestablished Mr. Phuc’s commitment to it. Mr. Hoc pulled out money from his backpack and counted it in front of all of us (cow salesman included). He then handed it over to the cow salesman and asked him to count it, again out loud. Mr. Hoc took a video of this exchange as proof of payment. The cow salesman nodded in agreement and looked over to Mr. Phuc.

We all got up, put on our shoes, and headed to the small garden in front of Mr. Phuc’s home. Holding the cow’s rope, Mr. Hoc said a few words, shook hands with the cows salesman, and proudly handed over the rope to Mr. Phuc. In that moment, the cow and calf were officially purchased and the business plan had launched.

A snap of the team. From left to right: Mr. Hoc (AEPD Outreach Worker), Mr. Phuc, Ms. Thanh, Mr. Tam (cow salesman), AEPD Staff (Ashley, Ngoc, Seanin, me, and Mr. Vinh).