Earlier this month, Diane Matsuura traveled to Vietnam with her husband Ken, a Holt board member. While on the trip, the Matsuuras met two girls they have sponsored for several years. Below, Diane and Ken share about their experience in Vietnam, and how it felt to meet Trinh and Thao.
It was with great excitement that my husband and I joined the Holt board trip to Vietnam. We wanted to see Holt Vietnam’s work because they have, for many years, remained committed to serving children and families in need. This year, Holt also looks forward to resuming adoption for special needs children.
Making the trip even more special was that fact that we have sponsored two girls in this country for several years. We asked Thoa Bui, Holt’s senior executive of Southeast Asia programs, about the possibility of meeting our sponsored girls, Trinh and Thao. She assured us that this would be possible, and we were delighted!
We met both girls on our first day outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Binh Duong province. Trinh, 8, shyly greeted us from the doorway of the room she shares with four other girls in the orphanage. She looked just like the photos we have received! Through our interpreter, we told her how happy we were to meet her and gave her a bag of small gifts from Hawaii, where we live. We also met Trinh’s sister, who lives at the orphanage as well. Because of the instability of their family, the girls are currently being cared for at the orphanage and sometimes go home on the weekends. Trinh looked healthy and happy. As we parted, we gave hugs and encouraged her to continue to do well in school.
We then walked a short way to see Thao, who lives in a foster home not far from the orphanage. She also greeted us shyly, beautiful in a pink dress. Her foster parents greeted us warmly and proudly showed us the certificate of appreciation they received for the many years they have been fostering children. We learned that Thao has been matched with parents from Spain, who will soon travel to Vietnam to take her home. Thao’s foster family has thoroughly prepared Thoa for this big transition, and she is looking forward to meeting her parents and going home. This gave us a huge sense of satisfaction, especially knowing that she has had a good foundation with the care and love from her foster family through Holt’s support.
Meeting Trinh and Thao was a very emotional experience. Sponsoring children is more than committing financial resources. With each update Holt sends, we look forward to hearing what each child’s progress is with the hope that their particular circumstances have improved and will continue to improve. We’re thankful for the privilege of participating with Holt and giving Trinh and Thao the opportunity for a better life. We felt so happy to see both girls healthy, happy and thriving with Holt’s support.
During the two weeks in Vietnam, we saw a country striving to move ahead and catch up with the modern world, while many are still left behind with little means to keep up. This is the huge segment of the population that Holt serves. We saw family preservation programs, support for special needs children, nutritional support for children from needy families, day care programs and just plain hard work and lots of love on the part of caregivers, teachers and staff wherever we went. This is all due to the dedication and vision of our Holt Vietnam staff under the leadership of Holt’s senior executive for S.E. Asia programs, Thoa Bui, and Holt Vietnam’s in-country program director, Hang Dam.
Ken and Diane Matsuura | Honolulu, Hawaii
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To learn more about our work in Vietnam, click here.