Sponsored by:

Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Fighting brothels with bicycles


Remember those dramatic 1980s Sally Struthers television appeals, about how just pennies a day could buy a bag of rice that saves a child‘s life? In the Mekong Delta, activists working against human trafficking believe that just $50 can buy the bicycle that stops a poor Vietnamese village girl from dropping out of school and ending up in a Cambodian brothel.

This ongoing bicycle project appealed to the Rockland County Rotarians, veterans and friends traveling in our humanitarian tour of Vietnam, and the group raised enough money to donate 36 bicycles this week. My father and I attended the ceremony with them on Tuesday, and were astounded at the delighted screaming that greeted our arrival. I wish I had gotten it on tape – the closest comparison would be to a Michael Jackson concert in the 1980s. (I’ll try to stop making so many ’80s references, but both of those were spot on!) The other folks in our group confirmed that this was an especially enthusiastic welcome, although they were very warmly received when they dedicated a school in Dalat and donated 40 pediatric wheelchairs earlier in their trip.


My father made some new friends at this ceremony, and gave out his e-mail address to several dozen clamoring children with notebooks, eager to practice their few words of English. He’s been marveling at the brightness in the faces of Vietnamese children today – even the ones we met, who have led extremely underprivileged lives – than the ones with the sad eyes he remembers from the Vietnam War.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2007 at 7:00 am by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans



About this blog
"Return to Vietnam" chronicles the journey of Col. Andonios Neroulias USA (Ret.) of Briarcliff Manor, NY, joined by his daughter, staff writer Nicole Neroulias, to the country he fought in 40 years ago. They are traveling with Vietnam veterans and Rotarians from Rockland County and other parts of the country. Check this blog for daily posts, photos, recordings and slideshows about their experiences.
About the authors
Nicole and Andonios Neroulias

Nicole Neroulias grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, and graduated from Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered religion and city news in Cyprus, Connecticut and California, where she earned several fellowships and prizes, including a national Religion Newswriters Association award. She joined The Journal News in early 2007 and also teaches journalism at Columbia.

Col. Andonios Neroulias emigrated from Greece in 1956 and was commissioned an officer through the ROTC program of the City College of NY. From 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division, whose main base was in Cu Chi, known for its intricate Viet Cong tunnels. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
Vietnam Map


Monthly Archives