Poverty Alleviation ministry in Vietnam
We are delighted to begin a new partnership with Saigon Reformed Presbyterian Church, located in Santa Ana, California, to implement poverty alleviation ministries in rural Vietnam.
Led by Pastor Nguyen Xuan Bao, Saigon Church has been on at least 138 mission trips to Vietnam. Their ministry includes water well construction, bridge construction, and rice bag distribution. Our partnership will focus on the water well ministry.
Mission Trip Testimony
Rice Distribution at Community Centers for the Blind
The first location to distribute rice was at the community center for the blind and visually impaired in Hoi An. We gave away more than 186 bags of rice there. Seeing these seniors, with eyes that no longer had light in them, lining up to wait for the rice, I was moved tremendously. There were also a number of young people that were blind from birth waiting so persistently until their turn. To be honest, a 20-kilogram-bag-of-rice is not such a highly valuable gift, but it is preciously filled with the deep affection from numerous Vietnamese communities in America. I will never forget the smiles full of gratitude, in their hands their own bag of rice, that I caught sight of at that place in Hoi An.
Next, our group moved to the village of Hoa Vang to visit the second community of the blind and visually impaired. The people there had been waiting for while. Upon seeing us, they rejoiced in celebration. Amidst the hot and humid days in the middle of July, the people still remained content and friendly towards our group all the same. Though we were strangers, we felt so connected to one another; the love between countrymen, the brotherly love touched me in the deepest corner of my heart. There were many elderly men and women who were unable to come to receive the rice; they had to rely on their family members or local transport men. The people there was indeed happy since their countrymen from far away still remembers to care about the less fortunate, or rather the destitute, at the land of Quang Nam, full of hardship.
Rice Distribution at Leprosy Village
Our team continued our journey to the village of Lien Chieu — a leprosy location — to distribute rice. It was my first time to set foot upon a leprosy village in Quang Nam province. This village is fairly clean and orderly; I heard the government recently relocated them here. Before coming here, they used to have a small farm of vegetables, and raised chickens. Coming to this village, they were only given a small house; all of their life depended on several hundred thousands dong (20-30 USD) of welfare from the government. My heart really aches for these people when I think about them! Many elderly women were great in their age, without functional hands and feet, yet they stood and waited for our team very early in the morning. Many people came to shake our hands, thanked us, as well the Vietnamese communities in America, for continuing to remember them. Their eyes, their smiles, and their thankful hearts could be clearly observed on their simple face and simple attitude. If you were there, I assure you would never forget those poor faces. I was contemplating that if you and I can save a bit of money, like drink water instead of a cup of coffee or a can of coke everyday and save that little bit to help these unfortunate people to have a little more rice to eat.
New Bridge Constructed
Leaving Quang Nam, our team returned to Sai Gon to continue our journey to the city of Ca Mau. The way to the opening of a charity bridge of Mrs. Nguyen Thi Phung to mark the good deeds of the ancestors of the family, at the town of Binh Minh 2, the county of Khanh Hung, was very rough. After traveling for one hour by car, our team had to switch to motorcycle and traveled another long while to get to the bridge.
On the way to the bridge I saw many monkey bridges, whose ropes connecting two sides and small little floaters, and I asked myself how many people had fallen into this river because of these bridges. If it were me, I wouldn’t dare to cross such bridge. Also when there was a high tide, how can the young students get across?
It took us more than 5 km to arrive at the town of Binh Minh 2, I was able to count on my fingers the numbers of bridges to connect from one side to another, while the bigger bridges like the one Mrs. Phung donated were maybe about three. Just thinking about it made my heart sank for our people who worked so hard yet they lacked so many things, especially bridges to cross the wild river. I'm determined to practice keen saving so that I can participate in building these bridges for the people in the west of Vietnam like Mrs. Phung and many compassionate charitable people.
New Water Wells Built
Leaving the west and the rivers, we headed to Cam Ranh, up to Khanh Son to visit the newly-completed wells. Wow! Khanh Son is a village in the mountain that is desperately poor in the west south of the county of Khanh Hoa. The way up to the village is very pretty, but this land is indeed desperately poor. While Nha Trang is a very clean city and its famous name draw in millions of visitor every year, this village is a very poor area. Many of its roads do not have asphalt and there's trash and animal feces everywhere. The people still live in huts; the children walk around without shoes or sandals. This area looks like it's from a pre-modern age. We had to walk on foot to visit these wells that had just been constructed. Walking on piles of smelly trash as well as animal feces all over the streets, in the heat of the summer, I had to keep myself from crying as seeing how poor my people appeared. In the past 30 years, I have heard of the poor in my country, but never have I seen with my own eyes of their desperate condition to this extend.
I wish that you who see these pictures on television or Facebook can prepare some time to visit alongside with Pastor for just one relief mission trip, to visit these poor places like the town of Khanh Son. You will have a vision that our ears have heard and our eyes have been opened. Seeing these newly constructed wells, I am truly thankful for those generous hearts that contributed to help these people here to have a healthy life with less diseases because of clean water. These people's houses do not have a functioning restroom and no running water. I have seen many water storage containers with dirty water behind the house that these people have to use these past years. I truly appreciate the charitable people that have contributed to this mission from then to now. There is nothing that is more valuable than having clean water to use in the daily lives. I also got to see the first public restroom in this town that is currently under construction. I truly hope that there will be many more wells and many more public restrooms so that the future generation of this town can live a healthy life with less diseases.
The last thing that I've seen at Cam Ranh is a herd of goats, more than 10, that is currently being raised here. With the dearing help of Mr. Vu Dinh at Santa Ana, California, who gave away five female goats to a family, and within one year the herd increased to 10. The idea of raising goats of Pastor Bao, it's truly an ingenious idea: goats are very easy to raise, they do not get sick often, they can eat anything and they are also fast to give birth to the next generation. This is such a good way to decrease hunger and lessen poverty for the people in the city of Cam Ranh.
An Unforgettable Trip
I will never forget this trip — the 138th relief mission. I was able to see with my own eyes the difficult and poor life of my people and also to see the smile of happiness when they receive the rice bags that are full of love. I also had the opportunity to hear the honest gratitude from the people. After this trip I now understand why Pastor Bao, though he has reached the age of 78, still makes the effort to travel to the hardest and the roughest part of Vietnam, sleeping on the couch or even in a very cheap hotel, standing the unbearable heat facing many dangers, as well as sacrificing time, energy, money to do everything he can to alleviate the suffering in Vietnam. I hope that his work will increase and that there will be many more charitable people like you to participate in the relief mission in Vietnam. Our people are still very poor, our country is still very weak, and many of our people still do not have clean water, they still resort to traveling by monkey bridges, still live in a very hungry and thirsty state; I beg each and every one of you to put our hands together in order to do our part to help our people to have a better life. I invite you all to visit saigonchurch.com to view more images / video on the television and contact the number 714-75-8852 in order to participate in many more of the upcoming relief missions.
This testimony was originally published on 8/23/2017 at Saigon Church's website.
Read about the life-changing stories on the mission field.