Why is your contribution necessary and what good can it do?
This is a legitimate question, one I had for years. There will always be people in need. If we devote our lives to the cause of poverty and destitution would it make a difference? I think so. It is possible to make a difference but it must be done with focus, one person at a time, one community at a time, one manageable cause at a time. If we try to take on the world and all poverty related problems all at once, our resources will be swallowed up. However if we target our resources on manageable needs we not only make a difference for the individual, we see the difference ourselves and are encouraged. When we bring an individual out of the darkness of poverty that person can become a contributor as well as an encouragement to others. If we outspend our resources we accomplish little and fail to provide hope and hope is the real mission.

A natural disaster or other event that causes an incident of immediate need is different in that we are called upon to provide relief from a situation and encouragement to carry on with life.

We can try be all things to all people. However, we have to make choices of where and when to apply our resources in order to maximize the benefit to the individual and to VPR. We never have all the resources we need, as we always want to do more. Sometimes the lack of resources can depress the benefactor when we realize what we could do if we had just a little more to work with. You can provide that little bit more.

The choices are hard to make but they have to be made and when you look back sometimes it hurts more than you can imagine and you say, IF WE COULD HAVE ONLY HAD A LITTLE BIT MORE.

What follows is a true story.
I was in a small town (Can-Tho; Vietnam) in 1998 visiting a student that we were sending to college. Her name is Hong Nguyen, a very good person and a very good student whom I will refer to later. We were working in the country for several weeks and winding down the mission for this trip. We were out of money and had allocated all our funds for ongoing projects. That hot day in March we had donated the last of our funds to the local hospital that serves war veterans. I had three days to relax before we had to go back to the U.S., so I decided to spend it in Can-Tho. The town has a wonderful open-air market place along the Mekong River with a nice place to sit and watch the busy river traffic and local commerce. During the day I noticed a little girl begging and looking through the market trash for scraps of food and any thing else she could use. She was about six years old and it was unusual for someone that young to be on their own with out supervision. I asked one of the river taxi ladies about her and was told that the girl had lost her family in the rainy season floods and was alone. There were other children playing by the river so I promised them a can of Coke each if they could get the little girl to come to me so we could talk. They did and we all sat on the riverbank throughout the afternoon playing and chatting about everything and life on the river. The little girl’s name was Na and the story told to me by the river taxi lady was repeated and true.

I took the little girl to a restaurant to buy her something to eat. When the owner saw us come in he ran for his broom and started to hit the little girl to make her leave. He had the impression she was begging from me and wanted her out. I stopped him immediately and made it known to him that she was with me. “If she can not come in neither would I”, I said. After we had eaten I took her back out and we went to the market where I bought her some clothes and shoes. When I tried to put her shoes on her I noteced that the bottoms of her feet were badly cut and that she had stepped on a nail or something, and needed medical attention. I retrieved my medical kit, cleaned her wounds, applied an antibiotic and got her a pair of sandals to wear. We than went back to the river talking and playing into the evening. Later, I took her to get something to eat and said good night. The next morning I went back to the market to see how she was doing. There she was in her old clothes dirty and no sandals, going through the trash looking for food. When she saw me she came running. When I ask her where her new clothes were, she said she hid them so no one would take them away from her. I asked her to show me. She took me to an alley and showed me her home. It was made of scrap wood and used plastic sheeting that she scavenged. There was an old two-gallon can with a hole in it, and inside were her new clothes. We spent the next two days together; I took her to the hospital and got her some medicine for worms as she had obviously contracted a bad infestation from eating garbage. I had no more money and had to leave the country so I left her at the hospital thinking they would care for her. When I was on the on the way back I had a lot of time to think, she was on my mind constantly. I realized this girl had touched my heart so much that I wanted to adopt her. When I got home I told my wife about her and suggested that we adopt her. My wife could see there was no question but that we should adopt her. I then made contact with Hong Nguyen and told her to go to Can-Tho and find Na and take care of her until I could return. I sent Hong photos of Na, the very ones you see here, so she could identify her. Hong went to the hospital to find her but she had run away to look for me so then Hong went to the police but they were no help. Every day Hong would go back to the market in Can-Tho and look and ask people and show the photos. After three weeks Hong found that she had been hit by a motorbike and died. Just $300.00 USD in the account that first day I met Na I would have put her in a home and she would be alive and happy today

And now you know what your contribution can do. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. Sometimes the choices are hard but they have to be made.

This is just part of the reason why I do what I do in your name.

I pray you continue to help this very important mission.