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US medical volunteers help local children
Posted: Mar 29,2006

Fifty-two American volunteers, including 12 Vietnamese adoptees who live in the US, arrived in Ho Chi Minh City last weekend, ready to provide free medical check-ups as well as a three-day beach camp experience for poor children.

The volunteers, who will be here until March 29, include physicians, nurses and other medical workers working with the US-based non-profit Catalyst Foundation, founded by Vietnamese-American Caroline Ticarro-Parker.

The group will also be building and renovating houses of poor families in Cao Lanh district in Dong Thap province and handing out toys and gifts to 1,000 children.

Free check-ups and medicine will be given to 500 poor children who live in Dong Thap province and at Thu Duc Juvenile Village and the HCM City Child Welfare Foundation’s shelter for girls.

The beach camp, Ticarro said, gives children who have never seen the ocean an opportunity to enjoy an extended playtime.

The children will also be participating in an art contest called My Vietnam at the seaside on Ha Tien beach in the Mekong province of Kien Giang.

Ticarro left Vietnam in 1975 and returned for the first time in 1998 with her husband to adopt twin orphans.

After the trip, she and her husband decided to set up Catalyst to gather support in the US to improve the lives of Vietnamese children.

Ticarro said that Catalyst’s simple goals had attracted as many as 200 American volunteers from different backgrounds to join its cause.

In 2004, the foundation began sponsoring the HCM City Child Welfare Foundation’s shelter for girls.

Since April last year, Catalyst has also become active in fighting the trafficking of children in Dong Thap province’s Cao Lanh district, which borders Cambodia.

Ticarro’s twin daughters Cassidie Parker and Natalie Parker, sold 100 bracelets in the US to help contribute to the trip.

The money, together with other donations, will help buy 100 bicycles for Vietnamese children.

The Catalyst Foundation is also one of two organizations in the US that organise culture camps for Vietnamese adoptees to learn about Vietnamese culture.


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"... From the beginning of the first century A.D., when the two Trung Sisters rose up to fight the enemy and save the nation, until now, whenever our country has faced danger, our women have contributed whatever they could toward the cause of national liberation.

Our people are grateful that our mothers from South and North alike have borne and raised our nation's generation of heroes....

Under the Socialist system, tens of thousands of women have become specialists in different fields and, as cadre, serve as directors and vice-directors of factories, leaders of farming cooperatives, presidents of People’s Committees, and general secretaries of Party Cells....

And so, the women of Vietnam from ancient times until now, from South to North, from young to old, are truly heroes ..."

(Excerpted from President Ho Chi Minh's speech on the 36th Anniversary of Vietnam Women's Union 20 October 1966)

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