Community Service at the Vietnam Friendship Village
"….differences of all kinds are meaningless between children at play. Looking at our students here at the Friendship Village, it's impossible to believe that all these lovely children are the descendents of enemies who once struggled to kill each other."
Friendship Tours World Travel, 2004
Student Foreign Exchange ProgramsVietnam Friendship Village welcomes our student travelers for a 2-day volunteer service project during each of our tours. VFV is a home, health and job-training facility for children and veterans afflicted with Agent Orange-related afflictions. (Agent Orange is a dioxin sprayed as a defoliant by the American military on the jungles of Vietnam during the war.) Our projects are beneficial to the Village, but we are careful not to disturb the ongoing routines of the residents who make Friendship Village their home. Organic gardening, painting, sports and art projects are among the activities our student travelers enjoy during our time there. While individual travelers are welcome to bring any special gifts from America, Friendship Tours World Travel donates a percentage of tour proceeds to the Village as part of our project work.
The HistoryVietnam Friendship Village was founded in 1991 by two veterans, one American (General George Mizo) and one Vietnamese (General Tran Van Quang). Through fundraising efforts and construction of the Village they discovered that they were the two lone survivors of a battle during which their respective platoons blindly annihilated the other. Their personal journeys of peacemaking has made the necessary process of reconciliation manifest for countless others.
The residentsIronically, our cheerful hosts at the Friendship Village in Hanoi are among the few visible remnants of the "American War"(as it is termed on their soil), which most of the nation's people seem to have relegated to its colonial past. Afflicted with birth defects, the kids are a testament to war's indiscriminate cruelty. Many of these "children" are termed as such only developmentally: several of them are in their early and mid-twenties, but appear to be no more than seven or eight years old. The veterans who reside at Friendship Village may have fought for the north or south during the War. In either case, they too are experiencing the toxic legacy of chemical warfare. Although few of them speak English, we always manage to communicate our compassion and respect.
See the Friendship Village Vietnam website.