September 30. 2017 – It’s hard to believe that this is already the fifth year that we’ve gathered together to raise funds for the children of Vietnam. The amazing thing was that our event sold out weeks earlier, with us having to break the news to many individuals who tried contacting us up until the night before the event to get tickets. This year, we decided to hold our event at Cha for Tea Palace because our feet are still recovering from the enormous effort it took to stage last year’s magnificent self-cateredTaste of Vietnam gala at the hall. It is nice to have the meals all cooked for us for our guests this year. And what a delicious meal it was!
And the entertainment was absolutely delightful. Our amazing MC Dr. Cecile Phan kept our 360 guests most entertained. We were mesmerized by the stories and music of the beautiful native performer Amanda Lamothe, then charmed by the sweet little dancers of Truong Lac Hong School (Celina, Mai Khanh, Hong, Angela). The Vietnamese Student Union dancers (Vivian, Natalie, Van, Katelynn, Teddy, Hard, Ken, Henry) brought great energy to the stage with a neat fusion of Vietnamese traditional and Hip-Hop Dance, while the sisters Michelle & Lily Dang filled the air with their angelic voices as they sang Lien Khuc Be Bang & Co Gai Que. We even capped the night with a Mid-Autumn Festival parade with all the children happily weaving in a line around the restaurant carrying paper lanterns.
Of course, the night wouldn’t have been a success without our amazing business sponsors and friends who donated the many fabulous silent auction items. We were pleasantly surprised that the 50/50 winning went to one of the waiters of Cha for Tea, while Ms Dong was the lucky winner of our raffle for the Arizona Oasis Get-Away donated by the always supportive and generous Mr & Mrs. Heuver. Linh gave a moving account of her August visit to our projects in Vietnam, while Hang had cooked up a storm the night before to have 20 boxes of mid-autumn mooncakes for sale. Linh & Hang even auctioned off a catered meal which went to the lovely Laura W. All these special moments were captured on video by Kyra & Phillip Lam of Viet Times news.
Again, we are grateful to the countless volunteers who helped us on this night. Together, we raised over $45,000! Thank you so much, dear friends.
September 30, 2017 Presentation by Linh K Truong, Vice-President
Like many Vietnamese Canadians, I often look back on my journey from my country of birth Vietnam to my adopted country Canada. I am both humble and grateful for what has been given to me. I’m no different from the millions of people in Vietnam. But here in Canada, I am privileged that my family and I have acquired a secure life and a promising future in Canada. To remind myself that this blessing shouldn’t just be for myself but for others as well, I joined CVBF to improve the lives of underprivileged children in Vietnam, to help them help themselves to escape poverty, and to give them the opportunity to go to school, and to realize their potential and dreams.
This past summer my husband and I self-financed my 21-day trip to Vietnam. I wanted to see with my own eyes the work that CBVF has done there. I arrived in Ha Noi after a 20-hour flight. I had planned to visit all Vietnam’s three regions: North, Central and South.
I spent most of my time in Vietnam’s poorest regions in northern Vietnam (Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai and Lai Chau). Then I traveled to central Vietnam (Hue, Da Nang, Da Lat, Lam Dong, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan). After which, I went then to southern Vietnam (Saigon, Tien Giang, Can Tho and Hau Giang). On this whole trip, I took “the road less traveled.” I went from village to village on the local bus, on motorbike, and local taxis. To visit children in the Dao, Mong, Giay and Tay ethnic communities, I walked. I visited Meo Vac Sunday market, popular with many ethnic minority people. I had no time for hotels. For sleep, I snatched some mostly traveling on buses at night. I witnessed many things most people who visit Vietnam never get to see. We sometimes stopped when traveling on motorcycles, to talk to children walking along the road to get to school or to work. To children we saw walking without shoes, we gave them shoes, snacks and milk on top. A highlight of my trip was my visit to a new school that the foundation helped build in Pó Ngan C commune, Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province. The winding and twisting path with high mountains and deep abysses are not for the faint of heart. We had to cross several rivers, few mud slides and rains during our trip. Lucky for us, an amazing team helped us through. The beaming faces of the children, when we finally arrived, more than rewarded us for the nerve wracking trip. My happiness then equals one I feel right now, that my whole journey to Vietnam will be fully rewarding.
While I learned about poverty that these people face daily, I also saw the care and commitment that they have for each other. I made good friends who showed me that there are others who care as much as I do. This has given me the strength to continue working towards creating a society where all Vietnamese children have hope and opportunities to realize their potential and dreams, a chance to go to school; it has given me the determination to contribute in helping the children help themselves and their families, in order to escape their poverty. Though I returned to Canada with images of the impoverished conditions under which many of our little brothers and sisters still live. This gave us the strength and determination to continue working towards creating a society where all children have hope and opportunities to achieve their dreams.
We just cannot do it alone. We need you.
For those who have joined us to bring that hope, I am happy to say that 100% of your donations have gone directly toward that purpose. Through your generous support, I succeeded on this trip to distribute sports equipment, library books, textbooks, notebooks, educational supplies, computers, warm jackets, shoes, clothing, milk, diapers, food, rice, first aid kits, and nail clippers and much more, to some of Vietnam’s most needy. I visited over 11 schools and 3 orphanages. I personally delivered 46 scholarships, 18 bicycles, and over 1,000 gifts to children.
Why, one may ask, am I doing all this? My simple answer? It is my way of “paying it forward.” Others will hopefully work on this cause with us. Let me close with words of wisdom from a 5th grade student Nguyet Anh in Ninh Thuan Province during my trip. They were part of her thank you speech on behalf of recipients, herself included, of gifts of bicycles from CVBF. “The gifts are more than a prize,” she read. “They are a symbol of generosity and compassion. They teach us how to accept gifts, while thinking how we too can be compassionate to others.”