Saturday, December 8, 2007

Chuck Theusch and a 11 Person Delegation Visits Khai Tri Kids

Chuck Theusch and Dick Espy lead the Library Project of Vietnam (LOVNP). delagation which included The Video Works of Kansas City who are in Vietnam capturing hi-def video for creating a new DVD.

MEETING: SATURDAY, DEC 8, 2007, 11:30

DELEGATION (11 people)

Chuck (LOV) and Thanh (Vice-Director, Khai Tri) updated the Memo of Understanding with the following terms:

  • GRANT IS $21,000
  • Library shall be used solely for e-learning programs and innovations as may be agreed between Khai Tri & Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield
  • Dedication & Signage shall be designed by Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield
  • LOVNP will included Khai Tri in its continuing support program

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

KhaiTri Kids First Computer Lesson with

Tom Nguyen (Winnetka, IL) has a class of KhaiTri kids taking their first computer lesson using one of the online education courses from Tom was amazed on how they had no clue how to use a computers and the kids thought learning was like playing a game. The kids loved learning with a computer and are eager to learn more.

Tom with the KhaiTri Kids in front of the library

Oct 27, 2007 - Tom Nguyen visiting from Winnetka with the KhaiTri kids checking the project before the upcoming Jan '08 dedication.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

School Library and Computer-based Classroom Almost Completed

Tom is in Vietnam preparing for our Jan '08 trip. He took the picture below of the nearly completed school libary.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"We Always Come Back" DVD from Library Project of Vietnam (LOV) Video

Last week, Chuck Theusch, one of the more significant contributor to this project gave an update at the Rotary Club of Winnetka-Northfield. During the meeting, Chuck shared with me a copy of a recent DVD they created explaining how they are helping the children through out Vietnam.

You can watch the video by clicking this link:

Friday, October 5, 2007

Special Treat: Breakfast with Mike Leonard Helping Khai Tri Kids on Oct 12th

We are thrilled to have a special opportunity for you to have breakfast with Mike Leonard on Oct. 12th at McDonald’s Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL. Breakfast will be between 7:15 – 8:00 a.m. We are limiting breakfast to 20 people who are willing to donate $100 to Helping Khai Tri Kids. Feel free to stay to listen to Mike @ 8:30 a.m. when he presents to 300 Chicagoland Learning Leaders How To Tell Your Own Story and shares personal insight on his book The Ride of Our Lives.

Click here to make your $100 donation online and we will email a confirmation with directions to the Oct. 12th breakfast.

Construction is nearly completed and starting to focus on the interior

Our Oct. 1st update from Vietnam, construction is nearly completed and new pictures will arrive soon for sharing on this blog.

The next phase of the Helping Khai Tri Kids project will be focusing on how we can help with equipping the library. Corinne Miller is looking into the One Laptop Per Child from MIT Media Lab and Allison Rossett suggested that we contact, a foundation Nick van Dam (CLO at Deloitte) founded and is the current Chairman.

Tom will be traveling to Khai Tri later in the month to help plan for our January ’08 trip and dedication ceremony with friends from Chicago. While Tom is in Vietnam is also be helping with a 12-day medical mission (Oct. 27 - Nov 11) – Tom will be keeping busy.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Khai Tri Kid Posing In Front of the New School Library & Innovation Center

With the roof and exterior brick walls nearly completed, one of the Khai Tri kids poses for this snapshot to be sent to the states.

I personally like this picture for a few reasons:
  1. the focus of completing the project is for the kids,

  2. the dry, rough brown grass which is the kids main playground is a harsh contrast to the lush green grass I have seen in Spring during the Lunar New Year in February, and

  3. we can visual how the school library “fits” in with the existing classroom buildings included on the right of this picture. Currently the classroom building is only one-story … the longer term goal is to add a 2nd story of classrooms as the students graduate into secondary school and more classrooms are needed.

Viewing Tip: If you want to see a larger view of any pictures in the blog, just click on the pic and a larger one is presented on your screen.

Construction Pics @ Khai Tri (End of Aug 2008)

We are thrilled to see the construction progress on the new school library at Khai Tri. These pictures were received on Sept 6, 2007 from Vietnam. Tom is considering visiting the library at the end of October while he is on a medical mission with The construction should be completed in October and Tom can help make sure all is in order for when our Chicago group arrives in January ’08 for the dedication. Many thanks to all the people who helped make Miss Lam’s dream come true.

Monday, August 6, 2007

School Library Construction Underway

Over the weekend, we received our first pictures of the construction of the new school library and innovation center we are building for the Khai Tri kids. Click the photo of the Khai Tri kids above to enlarge the construction pictures on your computer screen.

This time of year it's hot in An Giang and it is the raining season - not easy conditions to build, but they are making progress.

Many thanks to everyone that has been helping make this dream come true.

We will be having a meeting this Friday (August 10th) for the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club members interested in visiting Khai Tri in January. If you are interested in joining us on the trip, please contact

Monday, June 11, 2007

June 6th Ground Breaking Ceremony

Ground Breaking Ceremony was on June 6, 2007 and the library should be completed by the end of the summer before September classes start.

After we receive photos of the construction, we will post them on this blog.

The initial funds agreed to in the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) have arrived in Vietnam today.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Join Us On Our Trip To Vietnam (January 2008)

We are planning a twelve day Vietnam trip which will be leaving from O'Hare airport on January 19, 2008.

The trip is open to everyone from Chicagoland interested in touring this beautiful nation, helping needy children or both. At the Chicagoland learning leaders' innovation peer-networking breakfast on May 15th at Motorola, $1,000 was donated to help build the innovation learning center.

You can print a trip brochure with more details (click here) or feel free to contact me directly: +1.847.786.1002.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Picture of the Library & Innovation Learning Center

Last week, Chuck Theusch gave Tom and I a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) he signed with Miss Lam on his recent trip to Vietnam. Chuck came to Chicago to listen to who was giving a benefit fundraising concert for another project in Vietnam.

Chuck explained to us that Miss Lam picked June 1st for the day to start construction because it is recognized as Children’s Day in Vietnam.

The architect emailed a picture of the library and the learning center (phase I and II). The entire building is planned to be 8m x 24m divided into three rooms: one room for reading, one for book shelves, and one for computer, multi-media learning.

The architect is busy creating detailed (blueprint) drawings and estimating the building costs. We are using $65USD per square meter for building costs and the Library Project of Vietnam is planning on holding back 5% of the funds for future unexpected maintenance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Thank You Card for Friends of Winnetka-Northfield Rotary

The Winetka-Nortfield Rotary
created this thank you card
to share with all the people
helping with the project

A Memorandum of Understanding Signed

To make sure everyone understands the commitment, Chuck Theusch and Miss Lam put their thoughts on paper and wrote a memorandum of understanding.

We have many friends of Rotary in the United States happy to help the homeless kids in An Giang, but Chuck has found the most successful projects is when commitments are shared between the local volunteers and the Rotary helping from the United States. They agreed on the ground breaking to be around June 1st with a completion before the September school year begins. Chuck also shared the amount of money we will be providing to help make sure a quality school library is built for the kids. Tom's sister has an architect making drawings, my understanding is the initial phase will be 8m by 16m for a two room school library (one room for the book and a quiet room for kids to read).

Other local visitors when Chuck Theusch Visited Khai Tri Orphanage

While Chuck was busy on a tour of the Khai Tri Orphanage, Tom's family and friends decided to visit Khai Tri too. His nephew, who just graduated from college in Ho Chi Minh City, arrived to find the electricity out and being a typical hot day, the kids started to get thirsty.

Compared to Americans, the Vietnamese families don’t use nearly as much electricity. Throughout the country it is not uncommon to have the electricity go out and for the most part it is not a big deal. The big hotels and many of the internet cafes have generators to generate electricity for their guest – most households don’t have air conditioning, lots of gadgets or lights so they just make do.

But out in the country where Khai Tri Orphanage is, the electricity can be out for hours or all day long. Tom’s nephew quickly identified a solution to add some large water storage tanks to hold the water during these outages. He told Tom that when his friend comes back from Ho Chi Minh City he and his friend will install the tanks and run new plastic pipes to the kitchen and bathrooms. He thinks it would be good to add a filter on the kitchen facet for additional purification and a basic filter to trap sand for the water pipes going to the bathrooms. A simple, yet effective solution.

Another visitor that day was Tom's family dentist. Miss Lam has found a volunteer doctor to give each of the Khai Tri Kids a checkup once a year, but up to this point a dentist hasn't volunteered to help. Sure enough, Tom's family dentist was quick to help by connecting Khai Tri Orphanage with a group of other dentists volunteers that help homeless kids. Thank you.

Picture Taken on April 12th 2007

We held the two benefit fund raising dinners in Winnetka on April 11th and April 12th. In the afternoon before the 2nd night, Chuck Theusch emailed me a picture of him with the Khai Tri Kids. You can see Chuck kneeling in the bottom right (2nd row from the front). Miss Lam is on the left side standing up.

By the time the dinner guests came that night, we were able to display this picture on the wall for everyone to see. It was great timing!!!

Behind the kids in this picture is the boys dormitory. Miss Lam explained to me that they were built with limited funs and someday she would like to replace them with more solid structures. Tom pointed out to me that steel roofs keep the rain out, but during the rainy session they are very loud. With nothing to muffle the sound, I would expect they would be quite loud if when the rain comes down really hard. The terrain in south Vietnam is very different than Chicago.

Benefit Dinner for Khai Tri Kids in Winnetka, IL

We had two successful nights of fund raising benefit dinners and raised $4,000 for the Khai Tri Kids. Tom Nguyen was the master chef and served a multi-course traditional meal for 43 friends of Winnetka-Northfield Rotary. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship and many asked to visit Vietnam in the Spring of 2008 to learn more about the four thousand year old culture and cuisine..

Here are some of the comments from the supporters who came to our benefit dinners:

So glad that the event was a big success! You guys certainly earned it with all the hard work you both put in (Wayne)

What you are doing with Tom is fabulous! (Dave)

Great job DIRK!!!!!! (Mike)

Thanks for a wonderful evening. The food was out of this world!! You must have given us about 9 servings. It's so nice to be able to help others and have fun doing it at the same time. You were the perfect host. Glad to hear that this project has been such a smashing success. (Kit)

Last night was a blast! (Ellen)

What a wonderful evening we had on Thursday! Many thanks to you and Tom and the others who provided us with such an extraordinary feast and overall outstanding evening of Rotary comeraderie! Please extend our thanks to the rest of your "team." (Carole)

It is inspiring to learn how the contributions of Rotarians are having an impact in Vietnam. (Cliff)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Other Rotary Projects Happening in Vietnam

The current largest project is being headed up by Forrest Lloyd Rotary Club of China Lake District 5240: Project ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for the Cancer Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City children’s ward. Hear from Forrest's daughter details on the project by visiting

The hospital is the only facility available in the southern half of the country to treat children with cancer. At present, the hospital has no pediatric ICU facility. The incidence of children with certain childhood cancers is higher than in any other regional Asian countries, which doctors attribute in part to gene disorders resulting from the use of dioxins (Agent Orange) during the Vietnam War with the USA.

Forrest virtually introduced me to Sue McKinney, a member of the Rotary Club of Oakland Sunrise, who has been residing in Vietnam for over ten years.

Chuck and I met with Cliff Chan (Manager, Club and District Support Asia/Pacific) at Rotary International (RI) headquarters located in downtown Evanston, IL USA. Cliff explained that RI would like to support humanitarian Vietnam. He shared a list of Rotary Foundation projects over the last eleven years totaling $4,460,000. Cliff acknowledge that the largest item was RI’s PolioPlus ( but that his list was incomplete – actually Rotary initiatives were more but records were difficult to consolidate.

Other amazing rotary project in Vietnam includes Danny Low, a past governor of District 9680 (New South Wales), Wheelchair foundation which has donated over 1,000 wheelchairs to the needy in Vietnam.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A new partnership forged with

As I was preparing for the initial 05-Apr-2007 presentation to Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club, one of the club members remembered Chuck Theusch presented two years ago on his group building libraries in vietnam. With a quick google search, provided Chuck's contact information and information on the fifteen libraries they have completed in Vietnam. Wow!!! I thought.

Chuck returned my call while on a trip in Florida talking to another Rotary group on his foundation. It turned out he is based in Milwaukee, Wi (about 90 minute drive from me) and he was on his way to Vietnam the next Thursday. To make a long story short, we had lunch in Evanston, IL on Monday, met with Cliff Chan at Rotary International, and Chuck agreed to visit Khai Tri and meet Miss Lam while he was in Vietnam.

Khai Tri Presentation to Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club

Please join us on April 5, 2007 at 12:15 p.m. at
The Winnetka Community House
620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093

1) Summary of current Rotary Projects in Vietnam
2) Our February 2007 Vietnam Trip Summary
3) Helping Homeless Children in An Giang, Vietnam

For lunch and a presentation
at the Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club
By Dirk Tussing & Tom Nguyen

A copy of the presenation (full of pics) is online at (5MB MS-PPT)

Education is the only way to get out of poverty

As repeatedly reported by the Vietnam News Agency for several years, a lack of funding for vocational training and the poor discipline of the children are cited as the main obstacles to finding jobs for homeless children. Vietnam’s employment is scare even for trained and educated workers and even less for homeless children, the majority of whom are untrained. Poverty is the main factor driving the migration of 70-90% of homeless children to large cities.

The homeless children are an extraordinary challenge in Miss Lam’s province; it has one of the highest rates of HIV which is entering Vietnam from Cambodia. Many children in this orphanage are from the Cambodian border; they are victims of HIV many losing their parents to AIDS. They are victims of poverty and discrimination. As a school teacher with a big heart, Miss Lam said: “Education is the only way to get out of poverty”. She was called to act on their behalf to build both a home and a school that would help teach them respect and skills to have a bright future.

The Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club is leading a local initiative to raise the funds to help Miss Lam completes Khai Tri orphanage school library. 100% of each donation will be given directly to Miss Lam.

More details on how you can help is online at

Fifty dollars from fifty friends … that’s all we’re looking for. Fifty dollars from fifty donors adds up to $2,500, which your help can complete the school library at Khai Tri orphanage for an unbelievable woman with a dream.

Miss Lam of Long Xuyen, Vietnam is my former teacher before I went to America. Inspired by her commitment to education I went on to complete medical school. My name is Tom Nguyen and in February 2007 on a trip to Long Xuyen, Vietnam, I met Miss Lam when she shared how a dream she had one night lead to the Khai Tri orphanage.

Mission Statement

Mission: Winnetka-Northfield Rotary Club & A Full Life are engaging local community groups to help raise funds for unfortunate children of Vietnam to lead them out of poverty with shelter and education. The initial project is to furnish a school library and create educational/vocational programs for the Khai Tri orphanage in An Giang, Vietnam.