Monday, November 08, 2004

A volunteer in Hanoi

Yesterday, I was just blog-surfing and came across this blog from a fundraiser in Hanoi. He told his experience at the Friendship village with Agent Orange children. Friendship Village is on our itinerary so I think it would be helfpful for us to check this out.
Our Man in Hanoi: Happy Christmas - War is Over?


At 11/11/2004 2:52 AM, Blogger OMIH said...

Just a quick hello from the guy mentioned above.

The Friendship Village certainly appears to be a very well run organisation.

I must admit that I found it very tough to deal with. It is heartbreaking. The damage that Agent Orange has done (and is still doing) to this country is immense.

And still, to my knowledge, not one penny has been paid in compensation to the victims (except of course those in the US Army).

Not to mention the fact that the $3.4bn promised to Vietnam by the USA at the end of the war, is still unpaid.

Just one thing. It is easy to see Vietnam as thriving these days. You will see scooters everywhere, mobile phones, nice clothes etc. Just remember that these same people are, more than likely, sleeping six to a room on a hard floor. Yes, "doi moi" has brought prosperity to some but not all.

Enjoy your trip. Vietnam is the most fascinating country that I have ever encountered. I do not know an ex-pat here that doesn't love the place. It moves me to tears several times a week.

One last thing - I am working at an organisation called KOTO. It takes in street kids, gives them a home, clothes, medical care. Most importantly it trains them - it teaches them how to work in the hospitality industry.

Eventually, after 18 months training they go out in to the world and we have had 100% success rate in finding good jobs.

KOTO runs a training restaurant so that these kids can get real experience. It is at 61 Van Mieu, next to the Temple of Literature. If you're in town, go eat there, the money all goes back into the organisation and the kids are just fantastic.

More information on my weblog at:

or at the offical KOTO site at:

I promise you this - every single one of you will fall in love with Vietnam and its people. And you will be back.


At 11/11/2004 10:26 PM, Blogger PT said...

Steve, thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment. I would definitely love to visit the restaurant while we are there. Our team will be in Vietnam in March, would you still be in Hanoi then?
By the way, I checked out the KOTO website and your blog. Nice writing and beautiful pictures. I enjoyed reading it. My favorites are your writing about the autumn season in Hanoi and the pictures of Hoan Kiem lake. Hoan Kiem lake is always so lovely and autumn (or the fall season as it is called here) is a very magical season for me. I miss it every year here and can only play Hanoi songs to make me feel better (or worse).


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