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Page 10
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VVAW Libraries Visit

By Ken Embers

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What an exciting and rewarding time visiting libraries and orphanages with the Library of Vietnam Project! Vietnam veteran Chuck Thuesch and his wife Khoi arranged an intensive tour of some LOVP libraries, including the VVAW libraries. I've left out many of the stops we made, but here are some highlights, including those with which VVAW members are involved.

On November 23, 2023 we visited the Phu Hoa Orphanage in Quang Tri, the LOVP My Lai/Son My High School Library, and the VVAW Hanh Trung Library, where we presented scholarships to students and certificates of appreciation with monetary gifts to the teachers from the nearby schools. As we left, an excited mass of kids greeted us with cheers of welcome and goodbyes.

On November 24, we visited the Pho Vinh VVAW Library. What an occasion with the Library being used as a classroom to deliver lessons to a large room full of kids who watched as the teacher used the latest educational technology via a large video screen and encouraged the students to participate eagerly and loudly in an enjoyable educational adventure. This was followed by singing by the students and even a congratulatory dance with one of our veterans, the brave Gary Counihan, dancing with the headmistress of the teaching staff while students looked on appreciatively. VVAW members should be proud of how their financial contributions have encouraged cooperation between Vietnamese kids, teachers, and all Americans involved in this project.

Then we drove to Bong Son and visited the 61st AHC Lucky Star Blazers Library, which is doing well and was the first built in Binh Dinh Province. Then on to An Nghia the site of the new VVAW Library. This location is about 25 kilometers from Bong Son to the southwest along a branch of the An Lao Valley river. It's a remote location in the mountain range's foothills where kids can really use this library.

We reviewed the site of the proposed library building and discussed monetary affairs and necessary documents with the staff and district personnel. We then met the contractors who are going to build the library. We were graciously asked to dinner by school officials, where everybody got to know each other through the traditional feasting and drinking session accompanying such an occasion. Shouts of Mot, Hai, Ba, Ho! (One, Two, Three, Bottoms up!) rang out in the outdoor covered restaurant as we were served traditional Vietnamese cuisine of several kinds of meat with sauces, vegetables, rice, noodles, tofu, drinks of your choice, and hearty handshakes.

Seriously, the guidelines for who was responsible for what was determined, follow-up visits arranged, and a general accounting of what was to take place in the ensuing months of finalizing the paperwork and construction of the library were defined.

Then we drove an hour and a half through the night along dark highways as our daredevil van driver threaded his way through motorbikes, cars, and large trucks, finally arriving at a nice hotel in Quy Nhon situated on the beach of the South China Sea, or as the Vietnamese refer to it, the East Sea.

We awoke the following day to a view of waves coming into the beach, had a great breakfast, and moved on to Mang Lang, where we visited singer/songwriter/producer/comedian and Vietnam vet Billy Terell's Mang Lang Orphanage. The sight of needy Vietnamese kids being treated with warmth and affection by Catholic nuns is a heartwarming experience.

It's hard to describe the good feelings generated by this LOVP/CLI organization through the hard work of Chuck, Khoi, and all the people that Chuck has grouped around him.

As a new VVAW life member, I encourage participation, whether through financial contributions or joining Chuck and Khoi on their trips to establish reconciliation with the Vietnamese people and map out a rewarding and positive future for the young people of America and Vietnam. And by the way, setting an example for other projects of similar nature. One of the keys to the Library of Vietnam Project/ Children's Libraries International's success is the phrase that Chuck announces as we drive away, "We Always Come Back!"

Ken Embers was in the Army, 61st AHC, and in Vietnam from October 1968 to October 1969. He is a member of VVAW.

(l-r) Gary Counihan, Sister Ha of the Phu Hoa Orphanage, and Ken Embers presenting
fellow AHC 61st pilot's (John Wolfe) gift for the kids. Quang Ngai, Vietnam, November 23, 2023.

Dr. Tim Eckstein and Ms. Suong (Headmaster) presenting 10 scholars with certificates and
1,000,000 VND awards at the first VVAW Library and Learning Center in Pho Vinh, November 23, 2023.

Teachers and vets at the second VVAW Library and Learning Center in Hanh Trung, November 23. 2023.

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