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VVAW Library Update
By Chuck Theusch
Library of Vietnam Project Update
Veterans of the Vietnam War will recall the old classification of good and bad during the conflict—No. 1 Best, No. 10 Worst. Now in 2020 the Country's Cultural commitment to education matches VVAW's support of education with the commitment to Library Construction in Ben Tre Province.
Between the natural process of application of public school building construction and now the Coronavirus pandemic, the perseverance of VVAW and their recipients in Vietnam's Ben Tre Province is being tested. This is nothing new for the people of Vietnam. The "hold" on the VVAW project brought on just as the final meetings with the People's Committee and school with the Groundbreaking were scheduled in March 2020 brings to mind why we build libraries. Like most "events" of global impact, there is a message in the mission as we say in the Library of Vietnam Project. Education is "Number 1!"
Coronavirus in Vietnam
The commitment to build a new Library Learning Center in Vietnam at Binh Thanh School, Giong Trom District in Vietnam's Ben Tre Province stands strong in the face of the global pandemic that has served as a block on international projects.
On the brighter side is the Vietnamese history of success in the face of struggles and challenges that makes them a success on a global scale. VVAW's funding of the Ben Tre Library Learning Center is in place. The contract with the People's Democratic Committee of Giong Trom District has confirmed the plan.
The death rate due to Coronavirus in Vietnam is among the very lowest globally. The kids are back in school as of September 2020 and the virus, after showing a modest spike, seems once again better controlled than in almost any other country. Still, the risk posed for kids in schools does not allow the continued closings. The parents deem the risk of a poor education far out-weighing the risk of Coronavirus infection…the schools are open.
Education in Vietnam:A Proud History
The cultural commitment to education is among the very highest priorities, a central driving feature of the culture ranking just a bit below commitment to family. So it is no wonder that taking kids out of school is anathema to parents across the country.
The Library of Vietnam Project has filed its permit extension with the Government in Hanoi for 2020-2023. The Library of Vietnam has a series of Projects and Programs to complete during this time that include the VVAW Ben Tre Library Learning Center.
Contact with officials in Washington, DC at the Vietnamese Embassy as well as the Hanoi leaders has us waiting for approvals pending resolution of international travel restrictions as well as construction restrictions domestically. They project an early 2021 return to normal. They are as anxious as we are to keep their kids' educations on track and improve the resources for them to do that.
A Final Note
The poverty of the nation gives way to the day-to-day innovations of living by the people, the kids will get to the VVAW Library when it is built. The marked development of Vietnam's economy makes its progress a world leader in the last 20 years. But the remote regions still need help, and that is where the Library of Vietnam does its work and VVAW has come forward with its support.
This shared "Priority Number 1" is truly appreciated in these poverty stricken, war-torn areas where the Vietnamese people continue to deal with war legacy challenges such as landmines, unexploded bombs and Agent Orange exposure.
VVAW's promise of a Library with a computer lab and English instruction capabilities inspires the hopes and dreams of the poorest kids in this remote region of Vietnam and it will be kept.
Chuck Theusch is a Vietnam Veteran of the US Army, 4/3 Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, Vietnam 1969-70. He is the founder/CEO of the Library of Vietnam Project.