When Cindy and I moved to Vietnam 11 years ago, it was in our heart to someday welcome a Friendship Team made up of adoptive families and their children who we knew from our days at A Helping Hand Adoption Agency. I even told Cindy at that time: “we’ll go, make preparations and be ready for them when they come.”
We’ve talked about this trip several times with you. This is our last email about it. We think it’s time. We need to finalize plans!
What: The “A Helping Hand Friendship Team”
When: June 6 – June 17, 2019
Where: Danang City, Vietnam
Who to contact for more information: Don Secrest (email@example.com)
When to Decide By: January 30 (we need commitments by that date)
If you’re one of the “AHH girls or boys,” God most likely took your parents to an orphanage to get you. If you’re an “AHH parent,” God most likely took you to an orphanage where you first laid eyes on one of the greatest loves of your life. That orphanage was a poor place, maybe a dirty place, maybe a smelly place, perhaps a place that you felt was lacking in love. But on that day, it was a place where God resided and where He met you. His goodness and His Presence were there with you that day in a special way.
Now, after the passage of many years, how about both parent(s) and child, or either alone, traveling to Vietnam to minister to orphans and vulnerable children – to minister to “the least of these” together? How about meeting that same faithful and good God in an orphanage for a second time?
Many have expressed interest in this unique trip. It’s time to decide so that we can determine the team and make preparations. Therefore, We need to hear from you by January 30.
This will be the most blessed and amazing trip of your life. God is in it and where He is, there is joy! Email Don today!
Total Cost Estimate for 12 days in country
Current Flight Estimate: $1,650.00 (this will vary as the date approaches)
Visa and Visa Picture: $62
Travel Insurance cost: $43.00 (required)
Food and Water: $150.00
Hotel: $182.00 (two persons in a room)
Total Estimated Cost: $2,149.00 as of January 9, 2019
*The transportation cost is calculated by taking the total van rental and dividing it among the team members. This estimate is based on 12 team members.
Please be aware that personal purchases are not included in the Total Cost Estimate. Any souvenirs, extra toiletries or other personal purchases are not accounted for.
Orphan Voice has talked with a travel agency called Mission Nation Travel. We recommend that agency if you are looking for an agency to handle all your travel arrangements. In your email, ask Don for their contact information. Orphan Voice does not require you to work with Mission Nation Travel, as we know that some of you are internet savvy and can book your own flights and take care of your own visa. In the event that you book your own flight, we will simply give you the date that you need to be in Danang. Remember though, that there is blessing in traveling together!
Eight year old Tro’s life began well, but by the age of four his dad and then his caregiver grandparents were dead. At that time, a drug addict entered his life. This abuser forced Tro to beg in order to feed his habit. If Tro didn’t beg enough cash, the man beat or starved him. His mother couldn’t protect her son from her “boyfriend.” To protect himself, four year old Tro often slept on concrete in the market.
Fast forward four years. Tro eats rice, fish and vegetables until full – three times daily. He sleeps in a bed with a blanket – under roof. Caregivers hug instead of beat him. He’s no longer alone.
How did his life change so?
Bao, born with CP, lost his mom four months ago to cancer. And Bao’s dad – well, after his wife’s death, he withdrew from the family. Of necessity, Bao’s elderly grandmother now cares for him alone.
When village elders saw the family’s struggle, they recommended that Bao go to Orphan Voice’s Phu Ninh Therapy Center. Desperate for help, Grandma took Bao, and after evaluation, he was accepted into the therapy program.
Will Bao gain motor functions through therapy in the coming months? Yes. We know that based on 7 years of Center operation. Will he make huge developmental gains? Maybe not. Bao’s CP is severe.
But gains he will surely make! He will also gain self-esteem and self-respect. Grandma’s life is already easier and happier. With the respite help she receives when Bao is in therapy, she has more energy and is better able to give him her best – to provide the needed love and care at home.
Orphan Voice partners – you’re champs! The therapists’ hands laid on Bao are really your hands. You give that exhausted grandmother badly needed respite time, so that she, in turn, has the strength to provide home care. It’s all because of you!
Grandma sure thanks you!
Phu Ninh Therapy Center exists only because of the generosity of you, our partners. Would you sow into Bao’s life and others like him? Can you invest $50, $100, $250, $500 or another amount today? Thank you. They need you! Please sow as generously as you can HERE . Or mail your investment to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591.
Cuc’s husband is disabled. A year ago, she needed to provide for her two, school-age daughters with the $1.75 per day that she worked long hours to earn (See August’s Ministry Update). It seemed that there was always “more month than money.” At her most difficult time, she considered placing her beloved daughters in an orphanage, so that they could have better food and go to school.
But God intervened in her life and she didn’t lose her daughters. Instead, God used Orphan Voice’s Building Strong Families program to transform Cuc’s life. Building Strong Families paid for her husband’s medical care. Building Strong Families staff provided mentoring on marriage and child discipline. Then, experts worked with Cuc to create a business plan to expand her small business.
Cuc helped create the plan and then she “worked the plan.” As a result, her business grew dramatically! Her daily income rose from $1.75 to $7.25 per day! The thought of placing her daughters in an orphanage vanished!
Because of God working through you and the local Vietnamese church to encourage and help Cuc, her family is stable!
Thirteen families have completed the Building Strong Families program. With each family, the local church has shared Jesus’ love!
Three of the families dropped out of Building Strong Families, but check out (below) the success of the other ten families!
We are expanding our Building Strong Families program to four other Southeast Asian nations where we will work with local church partners. Working with the local church, our goal is to invest in 100 at-risk families in Nepal, Thailand, India and Laos. The 18 month program for each family will cost $1500. Help us meet our investment goal! To do so, donate HERE. Or mail your investment to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591. Thank you!
Love Expressed From the Driver’s Seat
For years, Sy drove an 18-wheeler from Danang to Saigon carrying freight. From Danang to Saigon is 700 miles – and it took Sy 20-22 hours of driving on Vietnam’s congested National Road to get there!
Little wonder that Sy wanted a driving job to enable him to be with his family more. He also wanted to use his driving skills for something more meaningful. While he didn’t know it, Orphan Voice was also looking for a driver! Several weeks ago Sy came on staff!
Sy now spends his days transporting special needs children from their homes to Hope Therapy Center and then back home. For some of the children, he carries them from their house to the van, from the van to the Center and back to the van again when their therapy session is over.
As you can see, he loves his job !
They came from all over the United States. Darol, Cheryl, Ben, Brenda, Gerry, Kim, Patrick, Ignace and Troy came to bless. They came to love. Enjoy seeing the team have fun with New Beginnings School for the Deaf and Phu Ninh Therapy Center children!
The life of rural Vietnam’s, special needs children can be hard. Nowhere is this better seen than in the lives of rural-born deaf children. In Huy’s village, there resided no one who could teach him or his parents to sign. Huy’s mom and dad couldn’t send him to “the big city” where deaf services were available. As a result, from age one, when Huy’s diagnosis was confirmed by a second doctor, until he was 11 years old, Huy never attended school, didn’t learn to read, and never learned even basic math. He didn’t communicate with anyone outside his immediate family – and even with his mom and dad, he didn’t communicate well.
When Huy’s dad learned of New Beginnings School for the Deaf recently, he immediately came to the school and asked Teacher Mai if Huy could attend. In fact, he pleaded with her. So even though New Beginnings’s school year has already begun, Huy was admitted.
Huy’s just getting started and must catch up. Please pray for him (and a second new child) as they begin to learn Vietnamese sign language, reading, math and character development. Thank you!
New Beginnings now teaches 12 children each day. The school depends on your prayers and your investment, to pay the bills. Can you invest $50, $100 or $250 in one of these 12 deaf children today? Please do so and Donate Here.
Or mail your support to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591. Thank you!
Before entering Orphan Voice’s Keeping Families Together program, Cuc bought fruit, bread, and other food from a local store and walked the city streets hawking the food. Her inventory was what she could carry. The work was hard and hot. She sometimes sold her food; sometimes not. Earnings were meager.
Over time, she convinced a friend to allow her to set up a small food stand in front of her home. The space was small – only 4 feet by 3 feet – but it allowed Cuc to cook simple dishes and sell to passersby. Her income increased to 30,000 – 50,000 VND per day ($1.30 – $2.20).
That amount put food on the table – always enough rice, but the family still depended on the charity of others. Home repairs were left undone. Neighbors bought the girls’ textbooks and school supplies and when sickness came, doctor’s visits were unknown.
After village social services recommended Cuc and her husband to Orphan Voice’s Keeping Families Together program and they were accepted, Orphan Voice staff began to meet with the couple and children regularly. A local pastor joined the Orphan Voice team to offer spiritual guidance. Friendships were formed; mentoring began.
Experienced mentors counseled Cuc and her husband on the qualities of a good and Godly marriage. They heard for the first time the importance of valuing one another. They also learned positive ways to discipline the girls and the importance of their girls having a good self-image. The couple learned of family budgeting for the first time.
When Orphan Voice staff and Cuc discussed how to create more income for the family, everyone agreed that she could expand her food business if she had better tools. To that end, Orphan Voice worked with Cuc to negotiate more space from her neighbor to set up an outdoor restaurant.
The KFT program purchased new tables and chairs so that Cuc could serve more customers. KFT also purchased new bowls, cooking utensils and a “cooking cabinet” which allowed Cuc to keep all her ingredients together. The new tools replaced the badly worn (and bad looking) ones; customers noticed the difference.
Cuc’s business has grown! The new tables and chairs are welcoming to people as they walk by, and more and more stop for a bite to eat. The “cooking cabinet” gives the food stall a more professional look and, of course, allows Cuc to organize food ingredients and prepare dishes more quickly and easily. She is experiencing something which has not troubled her before: having more sales and income!
Cuc now makes from 150,000 to 200,000 VND per day ($6.60 – $8.80)! And the increased income has translated into practical help for her family! The girls have tutors for the first time and their grades have improved. In addition to rice and vegetables, the family eats fish and meat during the week. They’ve been able to repair their old motorbike. Even home repairs are foreseeable.
The family is overjoyed! Gone forever is the thought that the girls would be better off in an orphanage!
Most children in Vietnamese government orphanages have at least one parent. Sometimes they have two. And for every child in state care, other desperate families press orphanage officials to “take” their children too. Why would parents do that? Perhaps you can guess from Cuc’s story.
Poverty, of course, is the main reason. Countryside families, who have a hard time feeding their children, despair. Their religion is about duty and it gives little hope. For some moms, like Cuc, placing their child in an orphanage seems like a “step-up” in that their son or daughter will receive good food and go to school.
But caregivers in even the best orphanages know that at night – when the day’s activities are over and before falling off to sleep – children long for their parents. KFT allows them to be home!
Our 2018-2019 KFT plans are to reach 1,000 needy children and their moms and dads in Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, and Laos. Why these countries? Because they have one thing in common: children living in orphanages who should not be there because they have one or two parents.
This 18-month KFT program of mentoring, training and income generation assistance will cost $100,000.
While we are praying and planning for this expansion, Orphan Voice continues its daily Vietnamese ministry to orphans, special needs children, and children at risk for abuse or trafficking in its established 10 programs. The children and families in these programs are protected and blessed only because of you – our Orphan Voice partners.
Can you give generously today to impact Vietnam and Southeast Asia’s “least of these”? To do so make your gift online HERE.
Nuong, from a poverty-stricken mountain family, was born deaf and her life has been hard. Her mom, fearing that men would molest her, kept the 23 year old close by her side during her childhood. Before this year, Nuong had only spent one night away from home.
As a result, Nuong has spent most of her life looking after the family’s cow and doing other household chores. On a normal day, she walks the cow to pasture – making sure that it doesn’t get into anyone’s crops – and cuts grass for it to eat when pasture is available. In a sense, the family cow became her best friend.
Night and day! That’s the difference when comparing Nuong’s old life to her life now! Check it out. The story of her “new beginning” will bless you.
“Joshua” (fictitious name) is a young boy who can’t walk. Before Hope Therapy Center opened, he didn’t receive therapy. Why? Because there was no government or private therapy center within drivable distance from his house. And his parents couldn’t afford to send him to a large city where more help is available.
As a result, before Hope Therapy Center, Joshua’s day looked like this. Each morning, his parents put him in a crib on the concrete porch along one side of their house. He stayed in the crib alone all morning until his grandfather arrived at noon to give him some porridge. In the afternoon, “Joshua” was again alone until his parents returned from work around 5:00.
The concrete floor and a water hose made for easy cleanup where “Joshua” used the bathroom during the day.
But “Joshua’s life has changed because of Orphan Voice partners. He now has a place to receive therapy. A love-filled therapist works to alleviate the problem in his leg that keeps him from walking. It’s life-changing for him.
Hope Therapy Center operates ONLY because of you. Can you help us by sowing as generously as you can into this important outreach? To do so, donate HERE.
Hope Therapy Center After Renovation
In rural Vietnam and in the Highlands, some children may not have their cleft lip/palate repaired. There are many reasons which force parents this way: 1) being unable to pay the hospital bill or the related travel and food expenses; 2) being unaware of available help; 3) lack of hope among parents that things can be better; and even 4) counsel from village elders to leave “fate alone” (if fate determined that the baby be born that way, don’t interfere with it).
But cleft lip and palate repair saves a child from mockery from other children as he/she grows up. In the case of cleft palate repair, it gives the child the chance to speak clearly. The surgery can, of course, be a life saving procedure and, some who need it but don’t get it, die.
For these reasons and more, Orphan Voice provides help for families and children who cannot obtain the needed repair on their own.
Check out our latest case by clicking on the button below. And please help us do more. The total cost is running about $800. Can you be the reason that another child get his/her surgery? Every gift helps. To bless “the least of these” today, donate HERE.
Orphan Voice is excited about June 6 – 17, 2019! That’s the time A Helping Hand adoptees and their families (who the Brewers helped with their adoptions) will visit Vietnam to serve “the least of these.” In fact, we may have two teams!
So if you’re an A Helping Hand family looking for a ministry experience in 2019, you’ve found it! Or if you’re one of those beautiful girls, now is your time. Let’s make it full circle!
We’ve made preparations.
Team activities will include: 1) painting murals; 2) sports; 3) painting classrooms; 4) games and crafts; and more. For a 12-14 day ministry experience (including travel days), one person’s cost for food and hotel will be roughly $500 (plus the air ticket which we are working on). We’ll reserve hotel rooms, provide translators and help at meal time. With a year’s notice, the money can be raised!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know, with no obligation, that you’re interested. You can let us know of your interest, but later drop off the list if need be. God bless!
When our family moved to Vietnam ten years ago, this thought came to me (Tony): “Later some of the girls will come on a Friendship Team (the A Helping Hand girls).”
When I told Cindy about it, we knew that part of our job was to make preparations for the “A Helping Hand girls.”
All Hands On Deck! If you’re an A Helping Hand family looking for a family ministry experience in 2019, you’ve found it! Or if you’re one of those beautiful girls who we knew when you were young, now is your time. Let’s make it full circle. From an orphanage to an orphanage! Come, bless “the least of these,” and experience great things in your God.
We’ve made preparations.
We’re planning for June 2019. Activities include: 1) painting murals; 2) conducting a sports camp; 3) painting classrooms; 4) games and crafts with Promise House children; and 5) possibly medical and dental outreaches. For a 12-14 day ministry experience (including travel days), one person’s cost for food and hotel will be roughly $500 (plus the air ticket). We’ll make all the arrangements and have plenty of translators. With a year’s notice, the money can be raised!
Contact email@example.com to let us know that you’re interested.
Cindy and I lived in the Washington, D.C. area in 1992, and I had just “hung out a shingle” to practice law when a young couple came to my office with a question: “Will you help us adopt a child from China?”
Over the next sixteen years, answering that question not only led to that couple adding to their family, but also Cindy and I adopting five beautiful daughters. It also gave us the privilege of helping over 1,000 couples give homes to needy children who formerly lived in developing country orphanages. After visiting a few of those orphanages early on, we determined to empty as many of them as we could.
Answering that question eventually led to the founding of Orphan Voice and our move to Asia.
With that background, when Cindy and I moved to Vietnam, our purpose in coming was a fuzzy idea of “orphan care.” So, when Vietnamese officials asked us to operate a struggling orphanage, we took on the job. Promise House Group Home still operates for selected children – with your help.
But our thinking about orphan care best practices changed over time. Gradually, it became clear that even a “good orphanage,” except in certain cases, wasn’t good at all. Our earlier idea to empty orphanages in developing countries had been the right one!
With expertise provided by Orphan’s Promise in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we determined to help families in crisis before they felt pressured to turn to an orphanage for help. Thus, our Keeping Families Together (KFT) program was born.
Vinh and his wife, Hanh, always fought. Vinh cut his wife off emotionally, and when he did talk to her, it was usually in anger. Chronically sick and unable to hold a regular job, Vinh couldn’t earn the money that his family needed. That added anger and frustration to both their lives.
The children suffered too. They were sometimes hungry. Their oldest son dropped out of school. The girls did poorly in school and did not have tutors (the normal practice), because the family could not afford tutors. At one point, Vinh and Hanh decided to place their daughters in an orphanage.
But village leaders knew of Orphan Voice’s Keeping Families Together program and recommended the family to it. With some reluctance, Vinh and Hanh applied and were accepted.
Orphan Voice Christian workers began to visit, counsel and encourage Vinh and Hanh. They got to know the couple well and Vinh and Hanh shared their deepest feelings. Over several months, the workers shared practical ways for Vinh and Hanh to love one another, to develop a better marriage and to become better parents.
KFT paid for Vinh to go to the hospital. While still not 100%, he’s better today. KFT also helped Vinh and Hanh make more money. The couple knew how to raise chickens, geese and pigs. Building on those skills, the KFT program purchased a pregnant “seed-sow” as well as “seed-ducks and chickens.” Vinh and Hanh were faithful in their care for the animals and soon pigs, chickens and ducks were everywhere! The family ate some, sold some for cash, but still the numbers grew.
With a KFT-provided electric bicycle, Vinh’s 17-year-old son could reach a swampy area several kilometers away and collect snails to sell. In this way, he made 250,000 Vietnam dong ($11) per day for the family – an unheard of amount. In short, the family has prospered as never before.
Through the ministry of Orphan Voice Vinh, Hanh and their children’s lives have changed. Vinh and Hanh smile and laugh more often. Their children are happier. The girls have tutors. Food is always on the table.
Best of all? The idea of sending their two beautiful daughters to an orphanage is gone forever!
Orphan Voice reaches families like Vinh and Hanh’s only because of you. Your gift changes lives. Will you help us today? To sow love and hope into the lives of needy families, donate HERE.
Christ’s Love to the Hurting
Central Vietnam was recently inundated with rain and flooding. Minority people in the Highlands experienced the greatest loss and suffering. The death toll ran to hundreds.
An elderly man walked in the pouring rain looking for shelter. Coming upon a home, he asked to come in. The young husband, his pregnant wife and their young daughter welcomed him. After a meal, they all took their normal afternoon nap. It was a nap from which the elderly man and pregnant mother did not awake.
While they slept, the mountainside gave way and tons of mud covered the house.
A couple of hours later, a neighbor saw smoke rising from the site where the couple’s home had been. He yelled an alarm and neighbors gathered to frantically dig. They rescued the badly hurt husband and his daughter, but the elderly man and the pregnant mom had been crushed.
Jesus comes to the suffering when tragedy strikes and pain is great. A loving hand and a loving touch mean a lot. Orphan Voice staff, in your stead, went to this devastated family and others like them with hope, love, rice, noodles, blankets and other supplies only hours after their loss. Those items seem so paltry in the face of tragedy, but when delivered in the Love of Christ, they make a huge impact.
While we don’t respond to natural disasters like Typhoon Damrey each day, Orphan Voice staff do reach others each day. Can you help us continue? To join us and provide for the hurting, sow your support HERE.
It was a long trip. Pastors Dennis and Deb Smith and the Covenant Life Ministries team flew 18,000 miles to bless the “least of these.”
It was a quick trip. They did it all, including flying time, in nine days.
It was a blessed trip. Can you imagine how a 4 X 8 foot, beautifully painted, multi-colored mural will brighten the lives of children? If so, multiply that by six because the CLM team painted six murals. They will hang at Hope Therapy Center and New Beginnings School for the Deaf. Smilies will come!
Before Dennis, Deb, Blake, Josh, Katherine, Joy, Phillip, Cody, Katie, Lauren, Debra, Gary and Sharon came to Vietnam, 308 junior-high students at the Tay Giang Boarding School were cold. With the temperature dropping to freezing, that matters! To meet their need, the CLM team helped purchase, package and deliver 308 coats. By the time the team left, 308 formerly cold young people were warm.
Other team members ran electric wires, hung lights and built a massive 9-foot-high climbing wall. Seth’s Wall is the dominant feature upon entering Hope Therapy Center. Hundreds will be blessed.
You can come to Vietnam and bless “the least of these” as the CLM team did! Or you can support such teams and our staff as Orphan Voice continues to reach out to “the least of these” in the Love of Christ. Either way, let us hear from you. To sow your donation, give HERE. To inquire about a Friendship Team, email firstname.lastname@example.org