I took a taxi into HCMC this morning for what turned out to be a truly inspiring day with Chinh from the Saigon Children’s Charity and Trinh from the Mekong Anh Duong Association. I met both of these women a few months ago when they came out to Seattle as part of a Vietnam embassy-sponsored trip. We immediately hit it off and made plans to meet up here. Its funny – when I met Chinh in the lobby of the hotel in Seattle, she looked so tiny in contrast with all the Americans in our midst…and yet, when I met her today amongst the Vietnamese, she looked exactly the right size. So, I must be like a total giant here!

Anyway, the SCC raises money and distributes resources and training to schools and programs that serve underprivileged and disabled children in HCMC. They are working on a project to provide HCMC’s deaf schools with the resources they need — including FM systems in classrooms, more computers, audiology equipment, Internet capabilities, as well as teacher training. They have asked for the Global Foundation’s involvement with a survey they are developing to identify and close resource gaps with the idea there may be opportunities for us to collaborate down the road. If computers and Internet became more widely available, it would go a long way towards distance learning and tele-intervention efforts. It would be wonderful to have easy, ongoing connection and mentorship between our professionals and the teachers in Vietnam.

Chinh will be at our media day event on July 12, and I look forward to introducing her to our team. Trinh heads up inclusive education efforts in the Mekong and will be at our program on the 20th as a guest.

It was a very fun visit…Chinh took us to a couple of the SCC projects, including a vocational school where they help kids falling through the cracks get the education support they need. We also visited a school for disabled kids — it was heart-wrenching to see children with cleft pallet, others in rickety old wheelchairs, and several with deformed limbs. Yet, the director there is just great and does a lot with minimal resources. The place is a bit run down, but there was such a positive vibe. It really gave me pause on this July 4th to think how lucky we are in the US.

We wrapped up with a lunch of pho and spring rolls at this authentic Vietnamese restaurant. We had such fun talking about non-work things and started to giggle and bond over girl talk and the like. It was a very cool, authentic time, for sure. They are both wonderful people with such mindfulness about doing good. The world needs more people like those two.