Category Archives: Humanitarian

Rolls Royces and Bicycles: The 1% of Vietnam

Since I’ve been in Vietnam, I’ve noticed more luxe cars than I ever see at home in Canada. The other day a white Rolls Royce was parked outside a hotel in my Hanoi neighbourhood. Bentleys and Mercedes are the other cars of elite choice here.
This article in the LA Times sums up all my questions about inequality and gross extravagance in a country where people were starving 3 decades ago. A country where teachers earn $100 US a month.

UN World Social Justice Day!

It’s all about proper pay for decent livelihoods. This needs to be universally accepted.
My article for Innovate Development….

Improving the Vision of Vietnam’s Ethnic Minorities

Vision Vietnam.1
Here’s a recent article I wrote for Innovate Development on Vision Vietnam’s work with the people of Sapa. This Montreal-based charity collects old eye-glasses, sends them to Vietnam and then distributes them to ethnic minority peoples in the countryside. Good work!

Celebrating International Volunteers Day

December 5th was International Volunteer Day, which I hold rather dear to my heart. When many, many, many of us do little things to make the world a better place, change happens. To celebrate the day, I wrote a piece for Innovate Development. I hope you find it inspirational!

Violence Against Women. Make it stop!

Today, Nov. 25th is the United Nations Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. Here is my article for Innovate Development in honour of the Day.

KOTO Restaurant in Hanoi Brings Hope to Homeless Kids

At KOTO Restaurant, disadvantaged youth get a fresh start at a new culinary career. Great food, great concept! Here’s my story on Innovate Development’s website.

Nepal’s Ethical Circus Turns Spotlight on Human Trafficking


In Kathmandu, an “ethical” circus has given new hope to young survivors of human trafficking…a post I wrote for Innovate Development.

Miracle Moringa Trees Could Help Haiti

I posted this story about moringa trees in Haiti recently on the Innovate Development site. Will check the study at year end to see what they have found.

South Vietnam College Tour

A warm welcome at Vinh Long Community College.

A warm thank you for our workshops at Vinh Long Community College.

My three-week tour of Southern Vietnam educational institutes has been full of pleasant surprises. Not only did our workshops go smoothly, I’ve made new friends and been able to explore some very cool places in the Mekong Delta. Ashley Laracy, another WUSC volunteer, and I visited Vinh Long Community College, Kien Giang TEC and Tra Vinh University. At our first stop in Vinh Long, I was so pleased to see they had made a banner to promote our workshops.VingLongWksp Mine was “Creating Powerful Stories For Marketing and Promotion.” Ashley’s was “Partnership Development.” The college was a little outside the downtown core, so on a few evenings Ashley and I hiked the 5 km into town to enjoy a coconut water or dark beer…worth the walk! Translator Minh Chao was a wonderful help, from making sure the room was ready, to providing us with her impeccable English skills.
Peace with Minh Chau in front of VLCC.

Peace with Minh Chau in front of VLCC.

She was also in charge of writing up the college’s “Success Stories” so I coached her and we interviewed two very impressive alumni, the president of a rice processing company and high ranking manager in an international rice company. On our last day we took a boat tour and completed our evening at a delicious seafood restaurant.

Enjoying some java at Cafe Bale in Kien Giang.

Enjoying some java at Cafe Bale in Kien Giang.

Kien Giang is a seaside resort town full of charm and fantastic coffee shops. Watching the sunrise and sunset with an iced café sua da was spectacular.
Kien Giang Tec: A very well-attended workshop.

Kien Giang Tec: A very well-attended workshop.

We presented our workshops to the largest groups yet, 50 people per workshop. The rector and vice rector attended, as did many teachers and administration staff. Each evening our hosts took us to a new eating spot. My favorite was a place that offered a huge pancake stuffed with veggies and shrimp. Yum! We also were judges at an English Speaking Contest where students competed for prizes based on grammar, comprehension and delivery. Lots of fun. One of the staff took us out to have our hair washed – an amazing Vietnamese tradition that took more than an hour and was super relaxing. My hair never felt so clean!

Tra Vinh University: Auspicious yellow rules.

Tra Vinh University: Yellow rules!

A gorgeous campus full of sparkling yellow buildings welcomed us at Tra Vinh University. Each morning while sipping our iced coffees on the patio of the school canteen we watched exuberant students play soccer or volleyball on the nearby pitch. Here, our workshops were given to staff in charge of international collaboration and international partnerships, so we were able to give them in English with no translation. Much easier.
A wonderful place to reflect.

A wonderful place to reflect.

Tra Vinh is a lovely place, divided by a canal. We spent many evenings sitting and chatting in restaurants by the water. One day we even saw a dragon boat team practicing.

The south of Vietnam is very different from the north. People are not in such a hurry. They are warm and friendly and very inclined to share a plate of seafood or an iced drink with you. The participants in our workshops were also really engaged and I’m looking forward to seeing them implement what they’ve learned in the next few months.

Kien Giang Sunset...the best in the south!

Kien Giang Sunset…the best in the south.

HERhealth project: Supporting factory workers in Vietnam.

With capacity building about health, hopefully women can take more control over their own bodies.

With capacity building about health, hopefully women can take more control over their own bodies.

This is a link to a piece I wrote describing HERhealth for Innovate Development – it’s a program that helps educate women factory workers about their health….