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Moved by the plight of one family in Vietnam, Holt board member Ken Matsuura and his wife, Diane, provide the resources needed to help them build a safer home.

Early this year — in January — we joined a group of Holt board members for a 12-day trip to see the work of Holt in Vietnam. Led by Thoa Bui, Holt’s senior executive of SE Asia, and Hang Dam, Vietnam country director, we visited family strengthening projects, orphanages caring for children with special needs, day care centers supporting ethnic minority children through a milk program and participated in a house building project — as well as taking time for sightseeing in beautiful Vietnam.

Ken Matsuura presents an envelope to Mrs. Tran with the extra funds needed for the family to build their home.

As we met each family and child, we were impressed with the level of care and commitment provided by the Holt Vietnam staff. They showed personal concern for each of their specific needs and expressed genuine hope that they could help meet those needs — enabling the children and families to have a brighter future.

One family we visited especially tugged at our hearts. It included a young mother, a father who was disabled, two young children, a mother-in-law and a great-grandmother. The young mother supported all four generations! Holt provided them with a cow and pig to generate reliable income. As we marveled at their quiet but strong spirit, we couldn’t help but notice the awful, dangerous conditions of their 100-year-old house. The supports for the structure looked weak and we could even see the sky through parts of the roof! After we left, Ken asked Thoa and Hang how we could help them build a safer house.

A partnership emerged to provide the funds to build this family a new home. We joined with a women’s group in the province, a government agency and our family members who all contributed and didn’t waste time getting started! It was exciting to get updates via emailed photos.

Throughout the building process, Ken and Diane received photo updates.

In the meantime, we had decided to take our family to Vietnam for our summer vacation and the focus was to experience this special country and lovely people through the lens of Holt’s work. In late June, fifteen of our family members journeyed from Seattle and Hawaii for two weeks. With the help of Holt Vietnam, we visited family strengthening projects, orphanages and sponsored Vietnamese children.

Ken and Diane stand beside Mrs. Tran, her children, her mother-in-law and the children’s great-grandmother.

One of the highlights was going back to visit the family whose house we helped build. As we approached the area, there was an air of excitement. What a surprise to see a large group gathered in front of a beautiful new home! Many chairs were set up and we were invited to sit down for a formal ceremony to celebrate the occasion. Speeches by representatives of the partnering groups were given and finally, the keys were presented to the young mother. We felt so happy for her and her family! They each expressed their appreciation over and over, and we knew exactly what they were saying despite not understanding a word of Vietnamese!

Thanks to the visionary, hard work of Thoa Bui, Hang Dam and our Holt Vietnam staff, children and families are not only being served with the necessities of daily life, but given hope for a brighter future.

Ken and Diane Matsuura | Honolulu, Hawaii

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