Yesterday I was brought to tears reading about the Edwards family's mission on the Raglun Guld blog
and I was immediately kicked into action. I've stirred up all my family and friends and my husbands workplace to round up as much stuff from their list as we can to help the Edwards Family bring some everyday items to Vietnam Orphans.
Dennis emailed me back this morning to say, "We are simply suggesting that people get themselves a shoe box and between now and the 20th March if they add an item to the box each time they shop like a bottle, or a comb, maybe some tooth paste, some calamine lotion a couple of dummies. And please do not forget the older kids in all we will find about 350 Babies under 1 and around 400 children between 2 & 17. I know it’s frightening but we can make a difference. " The remainder of this post is the heart breaking story in Dennis' own words and with his own photos. Please read and kick yourself into action like I did. You can download his pdf version from here.
THE EDWARDS FAMILY VIETNAM ORPHANS TREASURE CHEST
The Edwards family comprising myself Dennis, and my children Nathan, Liona, Sally, Milly and my daughter in-law Linda are off to Vietnam in April 2010 in an effort to try to help the Orphans to make their world just a little better. I served my tour of Vietnam in 1969/70 as a member of the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (R.A.E.M.E) as a regular Army soldier serving at Nui Dat.
I was the Specialist Welder employed to repair and maintain the Army’s equipment. During my tour at the ripe old age of 20 I found myself at the Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat where 5000 men were tasked with patrolling and taking ownership for the entire Phuoc Tuy Province.
Often unable to sleep, due to constant battle activities of the Australian task force base, combined with the intense heat and the discomfort of sleeping in tents with sand bag walls I would seek approval to work at night. I was directed to talk with the Command Welfare Officer, who was always around the base sourcing things to be repaired or made for his work in civilian aid to the war effort.
Discussions were fruitful and permission was granted that we could design and manufacture playground equipment for the local orphanages. We made swings, slippery dips, seesaws and giant slides for these kids. I think we manufactured about 12 sets, it generated so much interest that the entire General Engineering Workshop team got right behind the project and we then visited all of the orphanages in the Phuoc Tuy Province and gave them a parcel of red, yellow and blue painted playground sets. Obviously we were in an aggressive war zone so we had to request armed infantry escorts to successfully achieve this goal.
Unfortunately we found that many of these orphanages were later destroyed by the Viet Cong and we now know that the Nuns and teachers were killed and raped because of their association with the Australian Army, as we were considered their enemy. This fact has haunted me for years, so it is with great pride and pleasure that today I am able to return to this country and give some of my personal time to the Orphans of today. The motivating factor that set me on this pilgrimage is when I first returned to Vietnam in 2007, I found the current generation of Orphans still swinging on many of my swings and riding my slippery dips that I made for these orphanages 38 years ago!
Rod Trapple & Dennis Edwards installing Slippery Dip - Baria Orphanage Aug 1969
Below are a few photos from my last visit which, unfortunately, was two years ago in 2007. For the past two years I have been personally challenged struggling with Brain Cancer. I am now well enough to go back and continue my work.
So I am now appealing to you my community to HELP me to put together seven (7) packages of wares to ship over to Vietnam to be ready for my family and I to arrive mid April. We will spend two weeks visiting and working in outlying Orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Dah Lat, Nah Trang, Baria and Vung Tau.
The background of the Orphanages that I have chosen:
These Orphanages are off the beaten track, and generally not that well supported by the Communist Government. The general facilities are very primitive and the carers are usually Nuns and volunteers with little or no experience of dealing with Children, especially babies. The average child ratio at the Orphanages we will visit this time is approximately 25 to 50 babies under the age of 1 year and approximately 50 to 70 children ranging in ages from 2 to 17 years old.
- Feeding bottles
- Bottle sterilization kits
- Bottle teats
- Sterilization fluid
- Milk formula
- Savlon cream
- Calamine lotion
- Baby food in jars with long use by dates
- Two minute noodles
- Disposable nappies
- Baby singlets
- Clothing – summer new or secondhand
- clean cotton or denim
- Hair brushes/combs/hair clips/hair ties
- Bassinette & cot linen - cotton
- Portable cots
- Hanging mobiles
- School supplies: rulers, pencils, erasers, coloured pencils
- Story Books – clean second hand
- Exercise books for school work
- Aussie toys – koalas, kangaroos etc.
- Swing & playground equipment (small)
- Bikes/scooters – in working order
- Hand wash / disinfectant
- Rubber gloves – Small/Medium/Large
THE CUT OFF DATE FOR ALL DONATIONS IS SATURDAY 20th MARCH 2010
ALL DONATIONS CAN BE DELIVERED TO EITHER:
Dennis & Inge Edwards, 7 Park Street Lancefield Vic 3435
Lancefield Neighbourhood House, High Street Lancefield Vic 3435
They are also holding a Fundraising Supper/Dance – Saturday 20th March 7.30pm Mechanics Hall Lancefield Live Band and Fundraising Auction $25 Per head with cash bar
Bookings Essential – Click here to download the flyer pdf for contact details and information.
Thank you to the Edwards family for doing this. They are amazing people. God Bless you.