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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

Archive for the 'Rotary Club' Category

Jennifer Weaver’s return from Vietnam


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.”

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Thursday, December 27th, 2007 at 7:54 am |

A Vietnam veteran/Rotarian Christmas carol


JoAnn Quattrone, the Orange County dentist who filled several suitcases with life-saving medical donations for Vietnam last month, was one of the honored guests at the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s holiday party last week. Rotarian Ed Frank of Congers, who is also president of Rockland County’s Vietnam Veterans of America, presented her with an award in recognition for her contributions to the humanitarian trip our group took last month. Click on the audio link below the picture to hear Rotarian/veteran Howard Goldin during the presentation.



Well, it turns out that Quattrone isn’t only a dentist and a humanitarian: she’s also a songwriter! Click on the video link below to watch Howard Goldin, my father and the other reunited members of our group take a stab at the anthem she wrote about the trip. Better yet, read the words first by clicking on the “Read More” tab at the bottom of this post – you’ll need them!


Read more of this entry »

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 8:30 pm |
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Sister, sister: Vietnamese nun meets her Rockland counterpart


At the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s holiday party Wednesday night, Sister Therese Minh, a Dominican sister from Ho Chi Minh City, came face to face with her local counterpart: Sister Joseph Mary Mahoney, president of the Friends of Saint Dominic’s in Blauvelt, NY.


Sister Joseph Mary was invited by Rotarian Voncile Oliver, who had wanted the Dominican nuns to meet. Oliver and the other members of our humanitarian tour of Vietnam had met Sister Therese on Veterans Day, at their dedication of The Rose School, a construction project partly funded by the Spring Valley Rotary Club’s Schools to End Poverty (STEP) program.

Sister Therese is on a two-month fundraising visit to America, meeting with groups of Rotarians, veterans and Vietnamese Catholics to raise money for The Rose School and her order‘s other educational and philanthropic efforts in Vietnam. Sister Joseph Mary said she may be able to get her other sources of support in the Lower Hudson Valley, too.

Click on the audio link below to hear Sister Joseph Mary’s remarks at the holiday party, after talking with Sister Therese.


Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, December 15th, 2007 at 12:00 pm |
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‘Crazy’ Vietnam veterans indeed…


In hopes of squashing the stereotype of the “crazy Vietnam vet,” I used to have my father visit my social studies classes at Briarcliff High School. He would wear his Army uniform and shiny medals, and give calm, rational answers to all the questions, even including “do you have flashbacks?” and “do you know anyone who went crazy over there?”

Well, all our ground work may have gone out the window yesterday, as we watched Rockland County veterans Jeffrey Keahon of Pearl River and Howard Goldin of Monsey spontaneously shell out almost $18,000 to help get the Rose School finished for about 450 young children living in Vietnam’s central highlands.


This happened during the Spring Valley Rotary Club‘s holiday party at the River Club in Nyack, after Sister Therese Minh,sistertherese.jpg a Dominican sister from Ho Chi Minh City who has just started a two-month fundraising tour of Rotary Clubs and Vietnamese Catholic groups across America, gave a status report on the school – which needs another $100,000 to get built, due to rising materials costs.

Make that another $80,000, after the contributed “happy bucks” from the Rotary Club members, and then Keahon’s $7,800 and Goldin’s $10,000 matching donation, raised $20,000 for the club’s Schools to End Poverty (STEP) program – The Rose School’s biggest benefactor.

“These guys are nuts,” my father said, shaking his head with admiration, astonishment and a bit of concern. “I hope they don’t have any kids going to college or getting married soon.”

Click on the audio link below to hear all of Sister Therese’s remarks about The Rose School and other projects that Vietnam’s Dominican Sisters raise money to pursue; click on the video link below that to watch the second half of her speech.



Check back tomorrow for more on Sister Therese’s visit to Rockland County and our reunion with many of our fellow Vietnam travelers.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 at 5:43 pm |

Thanks from the Go Vap Orphanage


I’ve stayed in touch with Kim Browne, the British woman who was one of the last babies airlifted out of Saigon before it fell in 1975. She is staying in Ho Chi Minh City for a few more weeks, volunteering at the Go Vap Orphanage – where she spent the first two months of her life – and looking for information about her birth mother. Kim said the orphanage will be able to save the lives of more than 50 babies born with hydrocephalus, thanks to the donated brain shunts delivered by the humanitarian tour group my father and I traveled with last week. (Read more about this special delivery in tomorrow’s Journal News.)

Kim recently uploaded this video from the orphanage’s hydrocephalus ward. And, click on the video player below to view some of the photos I took at the orphanage on Saturday.


Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 at 8:59 pm |

Bringing smiles to the Go Vap Orphanage


We visited the Go Vap Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday, tagging along with Son Michael Pham and his group of Seattle Rotary Club members on their humanitarian trip to deliver clothing, medicine, school supplies and treats for the children.

This little girl, Hien, stole my father’s heart.


I’m having trouble uploading videos to this blog from here, but in the meantime, click on this YouTube link to watch a scene from the orphanage.

Posted by Nicole Neroulias on Saturday, November 10th, 2007 at 1:41 am |

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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