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FATHER CRAWFORD’S KIDS: VIETNAMESE VILLAGE TO NEUROSCIENCES LAB – THE AMAZING JOURNEY OF DR. DUONG HUYNH

Submitted by Frank Stoddard (ACS)

As previously mentioned in the story about my recent Road Trip in the Lil’ Red Roadster, I met up with two of Father Crawford’s kids, Phi-Yen and Theo, who were part of the group of children airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975.

Theo has informed me that one of his friends from Father Crawford’s Airlift died. Duong Huynh should be an inspiration to us all. He went back to Vietnam to visit family and do volunteer work last month when he became ill and could not recover.

Vietnamese-Americans Hold First NGO Conference
By Jackie Bong-Wright

An Inspirational Account

From a wheelchair, Huynh Phuoc Duong told his story. “In 1968, I was shot by a stray bullet from an American military base in Hoi An, central Vietnam. I was 11 and still in first grade, my education had been interrupted for many years after I was taken from my parents’ farm to a refugee camp in Cam Chau commune. After going from hospital to hospital, I was fortunate enough to be put in the care of Father Robert Crawford, an American priest who ran a house for handicapped children in Gia Dinh, near Saigon. He brought me and other handicapped children to the U.S. in 1975.

Duong continued. “After undergoing major surgeries over two years to heal my severed spine, I started 5th grade at the age of 19 in Long Beach, California, and then went on to College at California State University, ending up with a Master of Science and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in1992. I took my post-doctoral training at the Neuro-Genetics laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at UCLA in Los Angeles, studying how neurons in the brains of Parkinson and Alzheimer patients die. I am currently Assistant Professor at the UCLA Davis Geffen School of Medicine.”

Right after his graduation, Duong had gone to Vietnam to visit his family. “I was amazed to meet many children and adults who never left their house because they felt ashamed at being handicapped, as I used to be. According to the Ministry of Health, there are about 5 million Vietnamese who suffer some type of disability.”

Father-Crawford-kid-Dr.-Duong-Huynh

CLICK IMAGE TO READ

Back home in California, Duong joined, in 1993, the Social Assistance Program for Vietnam, SAP-VN, whose sole mission is to provide free medical and educational services to needy and handicapped people in Vietnam. The organization has been operating in 12 provinces in Vietnam, and has delivered so far 226 wheelchairs and tricycles. Their largest program is in orthopedic corrective surgery, handling about 600 children a year. Their Mobile Healthcare Unit consists of Vietnamese doctors, dentists, pharmacists and volunteers who annually go to Vietnam to provide their services free. They contribute funds to health centers in villages and build schools in rural areas.“We raise around $130,000 a year with 90% of the contributions coming from Vietnamese individuals, and the remainder through United Way and matching funds from various companies. Our only goal is to help our own compatriots become independent and happy. The fact that we go to Vietnam to help doesn’t mean that we are sympathizers of the Communist regime or that we are Communists. We are human beings who want to make a difference by giving a ray of hope and a smile to some of our own people,” Duong concluded at the three-day conference. His talk was on “Personal Commitment from Personal Experience.”

Admin Note: If you’re ever having a bad day and feeling sorry for yourself, just think about Duong Huynh and what he went through and became in his short life … Bob

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