*This Project Starts at a Minimum Duration of 4 weeks
The Agent Orange project opened more than 15 years ago to care for war veterans and children suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. In the time since, it has grown into a complex of 11 houses that care for a total of 120 children and 40 veterans. The village is supported by a highly committed and dedicated base of supporters who volunteer their time, energy and resources to its projects.
From 1962 to 1971, during the war with Vietnam, American forces sprayed well over 40 million liters of the chemical defoliant, Agent Orange, over Southern Vietnam. The chemical agent was developed to clear out the forest canopy (thereby revealing hidden troupes of Viet Cong) as well as to limit the food supply to opposing forces.
However, Agent Orange had not been adequately tested. The chemicals released during the 1960s inflicted a legacy of suffering on the Vietnamese. Precise figures are difficult to nail down, but there is no question that millions of people were exposed to the chemical. In the wake of this exposure came liver damage, cancer, heart diseases, reproductive disorders and severe birth defects.
An article published by The Guardian in 2013, Vietnamese women are still acutely aware of the risks of birth defects related to Agent Orange. Pregnant women in southern Vietnam order many more ultrasounds than the international average. In Hanoi, the average woman has six or seven during a single term; and some have as many as 30. And while most babies are born happy and healthy, cases of physical and mental deformity persist.
The Agent Orange project is always in need of volunteers. Many of the people who back the organization spend time raising funds in the North American and Europe, and that leaves plenty more work to be done on the ground in Hanoi. Regardless of how volunteers lend a hand to the community, their efforts directly help those who have been affected by Agent Orange to live normal, happy and fulfilled lives. As with any undertaking of this size, there’s always a great deal to be done, and that leaves plenty of opportunity for volunteers to dig in.
This is a holistic community that aims to live as self-sufficiently as possible. With that in mind, the range of tasks carried out on site is diverse. Volunteers that have a background in medical work or caring for those with disabilities are highly sought-after. That being said, there are many other ways to get involved in a meaningful way.
These are few ways that volunteers can help:
• Playing with and caring for disabled children
• Helping teachers with special education classes
• Assisting with feeding at lunch time
• Helping in the organic garden, which supplies 60 percent of the village’s fruits and vegetables
• Calling for donations and writing proposals
Volunteers must be keen on working with disabled children. This requires a great deal of patience, maturity and compassion, but the payoff is substantial for everyone involved.