A special thanks to Andrei Antonov
Our webmaster and designer who donate the cost of the new website to the association. The new website was done free of charge and as usual all the funds collected can go for the children.
Remembering 12 years
By Danielle Williams
As ASSORV (now IAICF) turns a new leaf with the association of 2 additional countries, I am drawn to reflect on some of the pivotal moments in the last 12 years.
What spawned ASSORV-CA was the magnificent ethnic fashion show presented at TAIX Restaurant with the assistance of Anne-Marie Vaudescal and the women of Aletheia. Bich Hai Perrotin had imported a staggering number of ethnic Vietamese costumes for both men and women she had gleaned among the various minority groups of the country. This was my first acquaintance with Stephane Gauger, Bich Hai’s very talented nephew. He staged the whole show.
This very successful fundraiser led Philippe, Stephane and I to create ASSORV-CA as a 501 (c)3
The second epiphany was during my first ASSORV trip to Vietnam when, escorted by Bich Hai, we inaugurated the elementary school we built for ethnic people at the Chinese border. Meeting Bich Hai’s relatives in the distant north, being shepherded by her vivacious cousin through several ethnic villages and getting closer to the people than we could possibly have on our own, left me with the impression of an other-wordly experience.
I remember fondly our first fundraiser as an association. Stephane had just produced The Owl and the Sparrow, the very moving film about a Vietnamese orphan’s adventures in HCMC. This was an early viewing at the Studios in Hollywood, followed by a cocktail party for which the great French chefs of LA had catered the appetizers.
So taken was I with the Danang Hoa Mail and its dynamic director Thi Xuan Nguyen that I returned the following summer and stayed for several weeks, attempting to teach English to the children. It was a wonderful opportunity to know each child better and of forming ties with the dedicated employees. The culmination was a trip for the entire Hoa Mai to the imperial city of Hue.
Philippe an I had agreed during our first visit to finance a mushroom farm. Xuan had taken classes and under her expert direction and the collaboration of all at Hoa Mai, it did not take more than a few months to have a thriving enterprise, thus improving the diet of the children and providing some income. I cannot forget the sense of wonderment and pride in this truly amazing production of two buildings stuffed with mushrooms, floor to ceiling. Unfortunately this had to be discontinued when the orphanage was moved to higher grounds. We were never allowed to re-build this enterprise in spite of the employees ’desire to resume.
Sharing new experiences with children is a great high for me, so both our big field trips left an indelible impression. Although Hue is only 100 or so miles from Danang, it is al almost all-day journey by bus. A tour of the almost restored Imperial City is a must as well as a night boat tour on the Perfume river. Best remembered was probably the hotel (it had an elevator) and the breakfast buffet. Even more memorable was the trip to Dalat (two days by bus) with an overnight stop in Nha Trang. For me these were fraught with strong emotions as I watched the children’s wonderment at these experiences.
Spending a week in the new facility one summer was an unforgettable experience as I shared life at the orphanage. A shrill bell wakes everybody up at 5:30. As if by magic, a well choreographed flurry of activity unfolds; brooms are wielded inside and out, hoses are showering the shrubbery around the buildings, and a few girls go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, all of this under the supervision of one adult. As personnel begins to arrive, daily activities continue, getting ready and leaving for school. Most children come back for lunch and a nap. I particularly liked the before bed gathering, a group winding down, some singing, holding hands for group game giving me the sense of a tight-knit community.
These are just a few of many treasured memories. Time passes, the children I knew so well are gone, and the dynamic director was retired. ASSORV-CA (IAICF) goes on with a younger energetic team of Ahn and Gina.