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OneHeart, Issue 04


VYAG PHEs (Very Young Adolescent Girls), HIPE Summer Training Camp (2019)

Be Good.

By Cathy Lam, Treasurer (VANGO Network), Co-Founder & President (Our1World)

Over the years, I said these words every time I parted from our two children. The meaning changed–from toddler to adolescent years, and then into adulthood, but the core idea is always the same: Be good to yourself, so you can be good to the community.

Be good and find your place in the world and navigate through the oceans of life while being mindful of how your actions affect others.

Be good and truly hear your own voice as well as others. And be the voice for those who cannot find theirs, or have yet to find the courage to do so.

Be good and learn from your mistakes, turning them into lessons that can be shared with others.

Be good and include mental health as part of the whole physical self. If you cannot find happiness, it would be hard pressed to be physically healthy nor will you be able to help others.

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By Trần Thị Như Hồng, former Peer Health Educator, recently hired on as full-time HIPE staff (BIG CONGRATULATIONS, HỒNG!)

Vietnamese below.

A few days ago, the public was made aware about the 39 people who died in a shipping container in England, UK. And today, everyone was extremely shocked to hear that 39 people are believed to be Vietnamese. Basic life necessities have always been a heavy burden for those born and raised in poor rural areas. Some people blame the victims and cast judgment, saying that their greed brought them to illegally cross the border, and so karma punished them with this fate. Personally, I don’t judge, don’t blame. I just feel a deep sadness about this incident. As a human being, everyone has the right to live and choose their own path, but not everyone can also afford these expensive and difficult passports. These people leave their homelands with debts upon their shoulders, debts with ridiculously high interest rates. And above all that is a life-changing dream, a hope for a better and brighter future.

I know that if any crops could survive these fatal journeys, they would not have been farmed easily on that remote and cold English soil. Working day and night at nail salons, restaurants, or farms… none of that is easy.

No matter how much we talk about it, this traumatic incident happened. 39 people have the right to rest after these moments of agony and despair at the end of their lives. Please share and sympathize with the families who are suffering this tragic loss. May these victims have a better life in the afterlife, where they will live and work in their beautiful homeland. Love you so much, Viet Nam!


Mấy hôm nay, dư luận xôn xao về vụ việc 39 nạn nhân bị chết ngạt trong một chiếc container ở Anh. Và đến hôm nay, mọi người đã bàng hoàng trong nỗi xót xa tột cùng khi biết được tin 39 nạn nhân đó đều là người Việt Nam. Cơm, áo, gạo tiền đó luôn là gánh nặng trên vai của những con người sinh ra và lớn lên ở những vùng quê nghèo khó. Nhiều người oán trách, phán xét vì sự tham lam, vượt biên trái pháp luật nên những nạn nhân này mới nhận lại bi kịch như thế này. Riêng cá nhân tôi, không phán xét, không oán trách, tôi chỉ thấy một nỗi buồn sâu sắc trước vụ việc đang xảy ra. Là con người, ai cũng có quyền được sống, được lựa chọn cuộc đời cho riêng mình, nhưng không phải ai cũng đủ điều kiện để lo được những tấm hộ chiếu đắt đỏ và khó khăn kia. Những con người này ra đi với những khoản nợ chồng chất trên vai, những khoản nợ với tiền lãi cao cắt cổ và trên hết là một ước mơ đổi đời, một hi vọng về cuộc sống tươi đẹp và khá giả hơn. Tôi biết rằng, nếu có trọt lọt vượt qua những chuyến xe sinh tử đó, thì cuộc sống của họ cũng sẽ không dễ dàng trên mảnh đất Anh xa xôi và lạnh lẽo đó. Những ngày làm việc từ sáng tới tối ở những tiệm nail, những nhà hàng hay những đồng cỏ,… tất cả sẽ không dễ dàng gì.

Dù có nói nhiều thế nào đi nữa, thì sự việc đau thương này cũng đã xảy ra. 39 con người này có quyền được yên nghỉ sau những giây phút đau đớn tuyệt vọng cuối đời. Hãy chia sẻ, cảm thông với những gia đình đang gánh chịu nỗi mất mát bi thương to lớn này. Cầu mong cho những nạn nhân này sẽ có một cuộc sống tốt đẹp hơn ở thế giới bên kia, nơi mà họ sẽ được sống, được làm việc trên mảnh đất quê hương tươi đẹp của họ. Thương lắm Việt Nam tôi ơi!

This past week was one for the books. As we said earlier, Thien-Nhien Luong (Design Capital Asia) and Cathy Lam (Our1World) are in Hue to find a new property for DCA’s Rong Center. This week we were joined by Ha-Noi business consultant Tuan Nguyen, who facilitated the strategic planning sessions. Members of Design Capital Fund (DCF), Design Capital Asia (DCA), Our1World, VANGO, and HIPE came together under the guidance of Tuan Nguyen to discuss and discover the mission, vision, and next steps for the community center.

Rong Center Vision
Rong Center Vision

We were so excited to hear new voices stepping up and speaking out about the needs in this community, using the leadership, presentation, and critical thinking skills cultivated through the HIPE program. Participating core-team members talked about some realistic ways we can address these issues as well as their concerns about the potential obstacles we will face, but overall were happy to hear that this center is for them too, as they shared their own needs.

HIPE Coreteam members presenting their interpretation of “habitat” using limited LEGO pieces

We know this won’t be easy, but needless to say, we’re so excited, inspired, and motivated to actualize our dreams and goals for this center and for Hue.

We at VANGO are so happy to share some exciting news about member Design Capital Asia’s latest in-the-works project.

As you may already know, DCA has achieved such wide success with their Healthy Initiatives through Peer Education and SEED economic development programs, so much so that they are now in the planning stages of their next step. And trust us, it’s a big one.

With the dedicated and generous efforts and assistance of the DCA team, staff, and volunteers, currently Thiên-Nhiên Lương (DCA) is and soon Cathy Lâm (Our1World) will also be in Hue, looking at properties (that’s right, I said it…properties!) to open up an innovative, one-of-a-kind community center.

This center was always the dream, and we are so excited to see it finally coming to fruition. Careful calculations are going into the choice of this location, with a few choice commodities that will not be compromised (i.e., large conference area, ample space for motorbike parking, usable garden, etc.) so that the center can properly serve the needs of the community in the way that we envision.

Currently, the center is called Rong Center, a nod to the simple yet distinctly vital and indispensable role seaweed plays in the marine ecosystem. They’re the first organism in the food chain, they provide shelter and habitat for countless animals, and they are nurseries for many species. And that’s what we want for the Rong Center–a self-sustaining place that will help support the community, a comfortable haven where people feel free to gather, and lastly, a center where people are encouraged to cultivate their experience and knowledge via capacity-building workshops, and so on.

Needless to say, we can’t believe the dream is finally here. And we will definitely keep everyone updated.