Justine Dien- CoFounder/Project Director
I was one of the more fortunate ones because, in 1983, I and my family were sponsored to Canada by my uncle. Although I did not experience the harrowing conditions of the boat people, I am still most grateful for this journey. Through the kindness of fellow Canadians, my large family of ten siblings quickly grew to love our new home because this beautiful country is a land of hope and opportunities.
When I now take my son to hockey practice or my daughter to piano lessons, I am often reminded of how lucky I have been. The paths of our lives could have been much different if our family had no means of leaving our war-torn homeland. Because of the blessings in my life, I am now a volunteer with the Children’s Make-A-Wish foundation to bring smiles to children afflicted by illnesses. To pay forward the kindness my family had received, I am proud to have co-founded this organization to extend hope and opportunities to children living in poverty in Vietnam.
Michelle Ngo – Project Director
My father is one of the Vietnamese boat people that fled Vietnam during the exodus of 1980’s, leaving behind my mother in her 30’s and three children, my brother and I were teenagers then. Seven years later, my family reunited and settled in Edmonton, AB. I attended ESL classes and high school at St. Joseph Composite High School, and graduated in 1994. After a few struggles on the path of “finding myself”, I graduated from the University of Alberta in 2001 with an engineering degree.
As many Vietnamese Canadians, looking back to our journeys in Vietnam and in Canada I’m not only humble but grateful for what have been given me to help me become what I am today. In term of ability, I’m no different from the millions of people in Vietnam only that, here in Canada, I enjoy a secured quality of life and have confidence in my future and my children’s future than most people in Vietnam; thanks to the opportunities, tolerance and compassion of the Canadians that came to this country before me. For every day that I have to play catch up with work schedule, deadlines and house chores but still have sometimes to read a few pages of my favorite book, it is a good day.
To remind me that the gift that I have received was much greater than for just myself, I joined CVBF to improve the lives and future of a few disadvantaged children in Vietnam, to help them help themselves to escape poverty by giving them the opportunities to go to school and to help them realize their potentials. Without this help, poverty will be inevitable and extremely expensive.