True to his words, someone has said just that. My father received an email from someone who had sent out mass emails questioning if the flood victims will see any of the money. It ridiculed Vietnamese-Americans for donating, accusing my family of “feeding the communists” and building a home in VN with those funds.
My first inclination is not to care. I know what I’m doing is right, and that kind of propoganda shouldn’t be dignified with any type of response. But I can’t help but be angry–and hurt because say what you will about me–attack me all you want, but don’t go after my family. My parents have sacrificed more than most people in this country will ever have to give up, to get us where we are today. They gave up their country–their families–and they were willing to give up their lives to set us free. And the biggest joy I’ve received was hearing the excitement in my mom’s voice when she told me about how many people she helped–how many families stood in the pouring rain for hours to receive food. Exhausted after traveling for hours on bumpy roads littered with potholes, my mom would return home after personally delivering food and money to hundreds of families. Too tired to eat–she told me, the only thing she could muster was a bag of instant noodles–the same noodles she’d been handing out for weeks. And yet–she’s never been happier.
My dad is set to go back next week to help her. They will travel to far-away villages. They will help people who’ve not received a grain of rice from the government their entire life. And suddenly–my dad’s excitement to continue our work is dampened by some guy who doesn’t know us. (or maybe he does) Some guy who’s spent a lot of time dispersing this email to discourage people from donating and yet he himself probably hasn’t donated a dollar to help anyone else. This person doesn’t know how hard it is for me to leave my toddler and baby to the care of someone else while I travel to different cities to collect dollar by dollar. He can’t possibly know how my mom’s legs give out after standing for hours on end to ensure that every one of the 625 families have received their noodles and envelopes–or how in order to save money–she opted to ride on the back of a moped for a 4-hour trip and got caught in the rain.
And while both my mom and I are on the same page… The page that reads–do the right thing and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says…I’m sure my dad is crushed that someone could even think we would use this money for our own good.
He was an airforce pilot for the South Vietnamese Army. He fought alongside American soldiers–he was shot down twice– he saw friends die beside him–and has a bullet in his leg as a reminder. He also worked 3-4 jobs in addition to school when we came to America. Now retired, his mission is to help people who can’t help themselves.
Yes , they built a home in Dong Ha. Years ago. They also paid to have roads in the village paved, and they gave money to students who couldn’t afford school–and helped rebuild a temple destroyed during the war, and supplied the elderly with electric fans during the summer, and warm clothing during the winter.
So I guess we ARE doing this for ourselves. It wouldn’t feel right not to. We honestly don’t know how to turn the other way. If there’s a need, we’ll try to meet it. If we don’t have the support of others, then we do it with only our own money. Of course we wouldn’t be able to help people by the thousands…but we’d help several and that’s good enough for us.
So although I’m disappointed, I won’t be discouraged. If you don’t trust me, don’t give me your money. But if you DO give me your money, please trust that I will get it to the people who need it. And when I get caught up here, I will be posting what villages we help, how many people, what we gave them, and how much we spent there.
Pat Harvey, a co-worker at the tv station, gave me a donation last week. She too, has a charity and knows how much hard work it is. Her words of wisdom to me? A saying that goes…”to whom much is given, much is expected.”