This is a wonderful example of how one person can make a difference. Victoria wrote to family and friends to ask for help in spreading the word about one of GCSF’s latest projects: the Khe Sanh Library. Below is a copy of her e-mail. Her efforts made a powerful impact and helped us to reach our initial goal.
Subject: School Library Project
Dear St Philomena Family, loyal cookie customers and other friends,
I’m writing to inform you of my Lenten project:
1. No, I’m not begging for money again (but thanks to you who recently supported my Girl Scout troop through the cookie sale).
2. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke. Yes, I did have a turkey sandwich for lunch on Friday but not for a lack religious values. My Congregationalist faith does not observe fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent. We focus on serving others rather than giving up something.
The link below describes a project sponsored by a charitable organization my family supports, and you do not need to make a financial commitment to help. Please click the link to read about the Khe Sanh library project on GlobalGiving, and if you agree it’s a worthwhile cause share it with friends on Facebook or tweet about it or forward the email link to help spread the word. I met Marcia Selva, the founder of Global Community Services Foundation, when she was visiting Providence last year and was inspired by her passion. I believe in her mission of reducing poverty in Southeast Asia one village at a time. I’ll be donating my allowance during Lent to this project and want to help spread awareness about the important work Mrs. Selva is doing to help needy children. After hearing a lot about cyberbullying and other abuses of technology over the past few years, it is refreshing to learn about GlobalGiving.org which is based on using social media to promote good causes and make a real difference in the world. My parents don’t do Facebook and will not allow me to have an account until I’m older, so I’m hoping friends will use their social media networks to promote interest.
I’m contacting relatives to explain we would prefer they make a $10 donation to the library project rather than send gifts for my mother’s birthday, flowers for my parents’ wedding anniversary next month or Easter candy (even though my brother and I are serious chocoholics). Next, I’ll reach out to military veterans who served in the Khe Sanh area and suggest they honor a fellow veteran with a donation to this project for Memorial Day. Finally, I will inform philanthropists supporting literacy projects or specializing in Southeast Asia. Please assist me by emailing names of any veterans or others you think should be included or forward this message as you see fit.
Why did I choose this project when there are local groups that can also use assistance? In addition to Mrs. Selva’s influence, it seems the dollar goes a lot further there, and I’m a bargain shopper. Did you know $100 can buy a ton of rice in Vietnam? The total cost of the proposed library is $26,000. Can you imaging building anything in Rhode Island with that amount? I don’t think it would even fund a study to determine if a public building should be constructed here. Also, my father is a retired U.S. Army officer and served in Quang Tri Province just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in 1970-71. Khe Sanh is located in a remote, mountainous area of western Quang Tri Province near the Vietnam/Laos border. It was considered a strategic location by military leaders because it overlooked a portion of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Most of Khe Sanh’s inhabitants descended from the Bru and Paco tribes of Vietnam’s indigenous people and are also known as highlanders, Montagnards (French term for mountain people) or Dega. As a young man from a small New England farm family, my father felt a connection with these mountain dwellers who were mostly poor subsistence farmers working hard to take care of their families. The hope of living in peace was impossible for many years due to their location near some of the heaviest combat areas of the “10,000 day war.” My father returned to Vietnam for his first time since his Army service there in 2005 and again in 2007 and 2010. Each time he has seen modernization and huge economic progress in the large cities and coastal regions, but widespread poverty remains in the rural areas. Most families in Khe Sanh live off the equivalent of less than 50 cents a day. There are several reasons for their financial hardship with a main factor being environmental deterioration related to decades of war, Agent Orange spraying and recent typhoons. International teams have spent many years helping the local villagers clear mines, unexploded ordnance and other war debris. The proposed library site has been surveyed and determined to be safe for construction. Thank you for your attention.
P.S. – I’m adding another link with Global Community Services Foundation’s contact information just in case another family decides to attempt the NON-CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTE GIFT CHALLENGE for Easter or Mother’s Day and prefers to mail a check directly to GCSF rather than use the online process. You can also use this link to correspond with Marcia Selva if you are interested in learning more details about the Khe Sanh Primary School library or other projects.