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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Jennifer Weaver’s return from Vietnam

December
27

I recently heard from Jennifer Weaver, the 22-year-old woman who had decided to stay on as a volunteer at the Go Vap Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City after her parents and the rest of her humanitarian tour group returned to Seattle. She’s back home now, and here’s what she’d like Americans to know:jen-and-katie-chau-5.jpg

“These kids will steal your heart. It is easy to get attached to the healthy newborns, but spending time with some of the more disabled and sick children makes you realize just how wonderful they are and how much they love getting individual attention. Attention is something that many American children take for granted, but over here having time to play with other people is the highlight of each child’s day.

I found that the three things most of these children need most are health care, education and individual attention. Actually, because the orphanage is home to so many very sick children, I think it would benefit a lot from a connection with either a medical school or a doctor’s group in Saigon that could send well trained (probably volunteer) doctors to the orphanage to check up on the children regularly (as a long term thing, not just short term). The kids right now are receivingsick-ward-3.jpg medical care that is sufficient to keep them going, but better care that emphasized preventing fatal and chronic conditions would greatly increase their QUALITY of life. At the moment, Go Vap just doesn’t have enough staff to provide that kind of care because every time a child goes to the hospital, one of the caretakers has to go with him or her and stay there with the child. That takes a person away from the children still at the orphanage. So they could use a group of doctors that are willing to come and check up on the children regularly…

Kim was right that the best things to give are equipment and time (and I will add one to that – skills. While we were there, there were people training staff on how to deal with certain disabilities or volunteering their time as a physical therapists or psychologists, and that was infinitely helpful). Money is not the best thing to give because like all in counties, there are good people and there are corrupt people in Vietnam. Time and equipment, unlike money, are very likely to get to the intended recipients.

Overall, though, the experience was both touching and eye-opening, and I hope to go back again in a year or two to visit the children that are still there.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007 at 7:54 am by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: go vap orphanage, Rotary Club, Vietnam veterans

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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.
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