I am an old gunner, having served 9 years in 4 fd (62-68/74-77). Like many of us, I guess, I have wandered back to Vietnam to get a more peaceful view of the people. At the moment I am in Dien Bien Phu, been here twice now, this time for 2 weeks, 1 week andawakey to go.
As I’m sure it would be for many of the boys who did a tour here during the war, but especially the gunners, the history of this little valley is particularly interesting and certainly a nostalgic one. If anyone would like some photos feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
However the main reason for writing is that I am trying to get some help for a new orphanage here in DBP. It opened last month and is sponsored by the SOS International organization, and while it is certainly a wonderful village, in terms of the housing and the way they do things, they are in need of a few things to make life a little more comfortable for the children and their carer (mothers).
Winter is fast approaching and they have few clothes to ward of the cold (they are all very tiny , aged between 2 and 9) so a small parcel of your grandkids handmedowns would be magic. Warm hats/headwear and shoes, including PJs I guess. Each house will eventually have 7 to 10 kids and one permanent mother (a younger woman who is their Mum for life). At present there are 7 of the 14 houses in use, 46 kids, 6 mothers, 3 aunts. But they have no washing machines, fridges, bikes for the little ones who walk 3k to school or trikes for the even smaller ones.
Most of these children are from the ethic minority groups around here, and their inability to speak basic Vietnamese is an added problem, so many of the poor little blighters wander around in a shell shock daze, as I am sure you can imagine. But I have been visiting every day since I discovered the 2 weeks ago and can see the difference just a little love from one silly old gunner can make. So if any of you are making the pilgrimage, remember Dien Bien Phu is only $50, 50 minute flight from Hanoi. I guarantee you will get no greater enjoyment from the journey back than if you visit this little orphanage.
Incidentally a good washing machine (9.5 Kg load) for the village will cost 5 million Vnd (Au $340) A fridge 3 million (au $200) although 7 needed at the moment, 14 eventually.
Not putting the bite on, just giving you an idea how cheap it is to help if your company or anyone else wanted to hit the kick.
But thanks for anything you might organize.
Hey, who says I can't influence others......I bought a bunch of hats from this woman's shop and pushed her for special discounts, which she gave, then as I was leaving she run out the back and returned with a great big (dusty) bag full of the bloody things ( must be 50 in there) and gave them to me for the kids....ha haa haaa. That's the hat problem solved for the next 10 years. ( and not a single word of English was spoken, but I did give her a free hug)
I think my motorbike driver had told her we had just taken a bike (great little bike with training wheels + helmet Au $37) and a trike'y thingo ( about $20) out to the kids and she got an attack of the guilts, but it just might have been my charm.
If anyone from your mob can/wants to help……….please drop me a line, or check out SOS International online….or email the village direct: email@example.com
All the best
Tick (Nev Tickner)