Greetings from Hue, Vietnam!
My name is Jean, I’m from France originally and worked as a nuclear submarine engineer for a good part of my career. In 1999, I came to Vietnam on a vacation and signed up as a volunteer in Hue…a month later, a historic flood would change the course of my life.
The flood of month November 2nd, 1999 claimed the lives of thousands in Hue and caused widespread destruction. We helped save some children from drowning…but some of whom have already lost both parents. When my volunteer work has completed, I left Hue to pursue jobs in Saigon.
As fate would have it, I came across Thuy again in Saigon whom I had first met in Hue as she worked as a translator for the same organisation. Together we decided to return to Hue to continue to help the orphans from the flood. I guess this is what some would call a pivotal moment in life. My old life, though comfortable, no longer holds any meaning and the calling was strong. This was the beginning of the House of Affection. You can say that the flood not only change the direction of my career but also my personal life as this wonderful woman Thuy would later become my wife.
Today our structure has grown to x houses, a travel agency and lodge. The tourists who come and stay with us help finance the the House of Affection. My wife would never draw attention to herself but she is the kindest and most caring person I know. We have a young child together and she takes care of our other 40 children, who currently live at House of Affection, like her own. We tried to provide them with more than the necessities of what a child would need to thrive: we take care of the sick (one of our children contracted HIV from birth, and other has leukemia), we take them on vacations when we can, and we tried our best to give them a good education beyond high school and university.
Next to our orphanage, we are in charge of the reintegration and the education program for Sampanier children (Sampaniers = former lake tribe living on boats). To do so, a small association in France (name?) is responsible for finding sponsors. For this program, we built 160 houses, helped build 2 kindergartens, a primary school and a college. With the help of volunteers from major French and American schools, we were able house and educate about 500 children.
This system worked well for 17 years until COVID-19 hit which wiped out our homestay income. To make matters worse, in 2020 we’ve had 13 typhoon, 6 of which and a flood would end up partially damage three of our houses. We also have two children who have incurable diseases and their medical costs are high.
We are not an orphanage in the traditional sense. We take in children who have lost both parents or are abandoned, however, we don’t stop supporting them once they reach 18. Both Thuy and I believe that we need to give them the best possible education so that they can have a brighter future and can return and help more children. For 17 years, we took care of them in a sufficient way but COVID-19 would change all that…
One of our proudest achievements are the children we put through higher education. We have produced a professor of physics and chemistry, a doctor, an agriculture engineer, an architect, a graduate in French, a master’s degree graduate in economics, to name a few.
We love what we do and we are determined not to abandon the children… We have sold our own apartment and a structure on the beach since COVID-19 reduced our income to zero but it’s still not enough, we are reaching out to you for help! We need to continue to feed, cloth and educate the children, and we need to rebuild the structures damaged by the flood…