Around the second week of October, 2016, central Viet Nam suffered from heavy severed flooding. The causes came from many sources. Part of it caused by nature, which is nothing new in central Viet Nam, but the big part of it was from the irresponsible-hydropower development and operation when dams open floodgates without warning or consideration of consequences. Deforestation from the big cooperation also plays a big role in increasing erosion. Consequently from this heavy flood, many have died, tens of thousands of homes completely submerged by water. Many were homeless, lacked of food and basic needed supplies. Seeing these horrific scenes, I responded, “another trip to Viet Nam!”
I left Los Angeles for Viet Nam right after the Christmas for Breakfast’s fundraiser on November 6, 2016. I carried with me cash donated from Bridging Hope, Sisters of St. Francis, and friends. I planned on buying food, medicines and other supplies for the flood victims. When I arrived, I learned that so much food and supplies had been distributed from the local social groups. Flood victims now needed cash to buy appropriate supplies.
After contacting a few local organizations and churches, I decided to work with the Đình Bảo’s group, as they were already in the Lâm Trạch village in Quảng Bình, a remote area. They felt that they were at the end of the journey. Đình Bảo asked if I could take on the rest of the mission. I agreed! He recommended us to work with the remained hamlets at the Tam Trang village. He introduced me by phone to the local pastor of a Catholic church. From the previous flood they encounter, he also suggested that I bring rain coats, rain booths, and floating jackets, just in case another storm would come.
I invited KimDung, a local Bridging Hope’s volunteer, to join me. We flew out the next day to Đồng Hới. The pastor, Fr. Nang, had arranged for someone who owned a big van to pick us up at the airport. The big van would work well with the high water and muddy roads. It was already dark. The road from the airport to the rectory was over an hour. Considered the heavy flood, the roads weren’t that bad. We arrived at the rectory around 9:00 pm. Fr. Năng kept on saying how lucky we were compared to what Đình Bảo’s group had been through. The water has already decreased. There was no need for the floating jackets. We had dinner, rested, and got ready for the next day. (See pictures below of Đình Bảo and his team on what they endured … they paved the way for us. Thanks, Đình Bảo and team!)
The next day, with the help of Fr. Năng, we met the local people at one the churches. It was well organized. The day before, Fr. Năng gave out the tickets … one for each family.
They all gathered and lined up, each one had a ticket in hand. I felt so humbled as I was distributing the gifts … quietly thanking my Sisters, Bridging Hope and friends to allow me to have this opportunity. Empowered by their simple presences, my heart wept!
KimDung and I left on the same day for Vinh.