Tag: vietnamese orphanages

Vietnam Orphanage Update – International Children’s Day 6/1/14

This email was received from Uu Dam, one of ATG’s supported orphanages in Vietnam (which now has more than 60 children) after International Children’s Day. The following is translated from the original Vietnamese email, and names have been abbreviated for their privacy.



Dear  ATG Family:

International Children’s holidays returned again this year, warming the spirits of the orphans of Uu Dam.  This year as well as the years before, the ATG gave the Uu Dam family a large donation of money for foods and supplies and a generosity of spiritual values.  The children ​are very happy and excited to receive such a meaningful gift, especially this year’s donation that included extra encouragement for those who achieved academic honors in school from 2013 to 2014. Everyone in the Uu Dam family would like to deeply thank the ATG family.

At the request of Ms. Aileen, this afternoon PT went with the children to the  supermarket to shop for food, supplies and goodies for the International Children Day (QTTN) celebration of VND 12 million.  The remaining VND 3 million PT will purchase awards for the children who achieved the gifted/honor student certificates and also the student at University  who scored well.  Tomorrow, after the distribution of awards and the QTTN celebration, PT will send you pictures for you to see.

Attached, PT would like to send a few pictures of the youngest members of Uu Dam so Aileen and everyone in the ATG family can see.  The children are lovely, innocent and also very smart. The smiles of these innocent little angels of Uu Dam are the gift that PT would like to send to the ATG family during this fun day for the children.

Wish everyone happiness and good health!


Vietnam Orphanage Update 6/3/14

In addition to providing aid for basic needs such as food, milk, clothing, educational tools and cultural celebrations, ATG takes it one step further with our supported orphanages in Vietnam.  We provide incentives to the orphans to work hard to make a better life for themselves by awarding those who receive an academic achievement certificate from their school district an extra “prize” of new school clothesand school supplies It is our belief that this will continue to give them motivation and inspiration, while also letting them know that someone cares about their future. 

This email was sent by one of the workers at one of ATG’s supported orphanages in Vietnam. The original email is translated from Vietnamese, and names are abbreviated to protect their identity.

Uu Dam  June 1Dear  Aileen!

On behalf of ATG, PT has provided awards for children of Uu Dam who achieved good academic results during the school year 2013 – 2014.  Within this group, XT received  both certificates for good student and also completed her thesis for four years of University yesterday.  She received 9 out of 10 for her thesis.  XT was so happy, dear Aileen.  This morning, after receiving this meaningful award, she got teary-eyed and asked PT to send her sincere thanks to you, Aivy, and all of the members of ATG. She said that she had to go to school

today to set up the completion of her school, but when she comes back at night, she will write to you all.  PT and all of the orphans of Uu Dam will always treasure the love and support from the ATG family.  The continuous concern and support that ATG has given to Uu Dam during the past several years has contributed to making our home increasingly happy and boisterous with the laughter of these children.


In these pictures, CH  and CT are brothers.  Because they had to go back to the countryside for their mother’s memorial, I gave them your awards earlier than to the others.  For many years now, both boys have achieved good/honor student status.  Their parents died when CT was 2 years-old and CH was 3-years old.  Currently, they still have their paternal grandmother, but  she is elderly and living out in the countryside under difficult conditions.

ATG Uu Dam Orphanage CHDSC04614



Orphanage Update: Uu Dam

(translated from Vietnamese, names abbreviated to protect their privacy.)

Dear ATG family,

Yesterday afternoon, PT and the children went to supermarket to shop for the necessities and food for the children at Uu Dam. The receipts added up to 10 million VND. The children were very excited. They always appreciate and have profound gratitude towards the ATG family.

This year, Uu Dam did not have any students taking the University entrance exams. However, there will be two students preparing for University next year. The children of Uu Dam are healthy and study hard all the time. They know that the reason they have cozy living conditions is largely due to the love, care, and support from the ATG family members. PT always reminds them to live a good and useful life in order to repay the donors who have loved and nurtured them.

With this email, PT includes pictures of the youngest children (the Three Musketeers) as a souvenir to ATG. The little boy sitting in the stroller, PH, is now 7 months old. He was only a few days old when he came to  Uu Dam, and he is currently a healthy and good boy.

Once again, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the orphans at Uu Dam, PT wishes to send the members of the ATG family Health and Peace.


DSC04128 3 chàng lính Ng? Lâm

Banh Chung Banh Day – A New Year Story for Tet by ATG

BanhChungBanhDay1Long, long ago in Vietnam, there lived an ancient King named King Hung Vuong. He was a wise and thoughtful king who always tried to please his people and consider new ideas, and because of this, he was loved by his people. King Vuong grew old and he knew that soon it would be time to pass his kingdom on to his successor. The only trouble was that the King Vuong had three healthy sons, and he did not know who would be the best choice. King Vuong, being a wise and caring King, thought very hard about this problem, and in due course, came upon a solution.

He called his three sons together. Rising up to his feet, he declared,”Sons you are all wise and strong, but only one of you can rule our precious Vietnam. So, I have devised a plan to determine which of you shall rule after my passing.” All of the members of the court and his three sons listened attentively, because King Vuong was known to be the wisest ruler in the whole of Asia.

King Vuong continued, “I would like each of you to provide for me a dish of food. You must search for the ingredients, make the dish and serve it to me on the last day of this Lunar Month. On the basis of this dish, I will decide who is to be the ruler of our Kingdom.”


Immediately after the words had left this King’s mouth, the attendants at the court began to talk in hushed whispers. They knew that this was a very wise pronouncement of their King, because Vietnam, with its large population and small land area, must always give attention to food production to make sure that each person is well fed and healthy.

The three brothers stared in disbelief, “How could our father suggest such a method of deciding? Why does he not test our strength?” said the first brother. “Why does he not he test our computational skills?” said the second brother, surprised. The third and youngest brother just looked at the court and his father and made no comment.

Within days, the two elder brothers had organized their servants and horses and carriages and were racing all over Vietnam and even to other parts of South East Asia to find the most delectable and delicious ingredients for the dish. One brother took a boat out into the South China Sea to fish for the finest tasting fish. The other brother went into the Khmer Mountains to find the most tender boar meat. Yet, the youngest Prince Tiet Lieu, stayed at home and sat on his front step, pondering his father’s request.

By the end of the Lunar Month, each of the brothers had prepared their dishes and came before the whole of the Vietnamese royal court and their wise father King Vuong to present it. The first brother came to the father and presented a fine porcelain dish of flying fish dressed in a sweet chili sauce accompanied by expensive lotus seeds. A hush came over the court as the father viewed the dish and placed it on the table. The second brother came forward, and he opened a large copper cauldron and presented a dish of boar dressed with wild mushrooms and a rare wild fern sauce. Again, all the court watched the father place the cauldron on the table. Then Prince Tiet Lieu came forward and opened his basket and displayed a large flat rice cake. The court and his brothers gasped! Noone would dare offer such simple fare to the royal King Vuong.

BanhChungBanhDay3King Vuong said, “Prince Tiet Lieu, tell me why you have chosen to present me with such a simple rice cake.”

Prince Tiet Lieu said, “Rice is the most precious and valuable of all food found in this kingdom, yet it is also the most abundant. I have prepared a dish that represents my love for you and our beautiful Vietnam. I have cooked it thoroughly then molded it into a round rice cake, and called it Banh Day, as it symbolizes the sky we live under. I have cooked a square rice cake, stuffed it with cooked bean paste and ground meat in the middle and called it Banh Chung. This will symbolize the earth we live on.”

As Prince Tiet Lieu spoke, his two elder brothers tried to mask the grandness of their dishes, as they now understood the wisdom of their younger brother in using ingredients that all the people of Vietnam could have access to. Immediately they fell to their knees in front of their father and younger brother and bowed at the same time the whole court bowed to the father and son, as everyone knew that Prince Tiet Lieu would make the finest King to rule after his wise father King Vuong. After that, King Hung Vuong ordered that this recipe be passed out to all people in his kingdom.


As the result, the Vietnamese custom is that every year during the New Year celebration, the Vietnamese people cook Banh Chung and Banh Day and use them as special offerings to their ancestors as well as special gifts to relatives and friends during the Tet celebrations. The Banh Chung is very nutritious, has a unique, tasty flavor and may be kept for a long time. All of its ingredients and materials, from the green wrapping leaves to sticky rice and pork, green beans and pepper inside, are all medicine (according to Oriental Medicine) that act to keep harmony between the positive and the negative, thus helping the blood circulate well and preventing diseases.

Together with Banh Chung Banh Day, the Vietnamese people normally eat Banh Cuon (Fun rolls) and Cha (special meat roll made with pork, or beef, or chicken) during the Lunar New Year—because those are so goods and simply because Cha can be preserved for a while in the cold climate, when the markets are not open during the Lunar New Year period (normally 1-2 weeks after the New Year). In Vietnam, there are almost no commercial activities during New Year and a week after so that everyone who works from far away can come back and celebrate the New Year with their family.
BanhChungBanhDay5In Vietnam, family members normally gather for the Banh Chung Cookout. After wrapping the Banh Chung, people put them in a huge pot and cook them for 10-12 hours, depending how large the Banh Chung are. During this cooking period, family members normally gather around the pot and sing traditional songs or tell stories.

Today, ATG volunteers brought the Tet spirit to the children of SPC Danang- House 3&4 by feeding them with Banh Cuon and Cha. (We fed the children this dish last Lunar New Year celebration and they asked if they could have that dish again for this occasion). Though Banh Cuon and Cha are inexpensive in the US, they are pretty pricey and are considered out-of-reach for the little budget of the orphanages such as SPC DN-house 3&4. As the volunteers set up the food, the children gathered around the volunteers to sing and chat happily. We also helped the children celebrate the Banh Chung Cookout. A huge pot filled with pre-wrapped Banh Chung was set up outside in the play yard. After the meal, the children gathered around the Banh Chung pot and continue to sing and listened to the story of Banh Chung Banh Day. On a cold day like this, we felt warm with happy thoughts, as we were able to bring the Tet tradition together with hope and happiness to the children. We hope they feel the same!

BanhChungBanhDay6 BanhChungBanhDay7 BanhChungBanhDay9 BanhChungBanhDay8 BanhChungBanhDay10


Sự tích Bánh Chưng Bánh Dày

Ngày xưa, ở Việt Nam có một vị vua già tên là Hùng Vương. Ngài là một vì vua thông minh và biết quan tâm người khác, Ngài luôn cố làm hài lòng hết thảy dân chúng trong vương quốc và luôn quan tâm xem xét các ý tưởng mới lạ và chính vì lẽ đó mà vua Hùng được mọi người hết mực yêu mến. Vua Hùng ngày một già và đã đến lúc trao ngôi báu lại cho người nối ngôi, vua chỉ băn khoăn một điều là Ngài có ba hoàng tử khỏe mạnh và không biết phải chọn ai trong số họ. Vua rất khôn ngoan và suy nghĩ cặn kẽ về việc này và tình cờ Ngài đã nảy ra một cách giải quyết rất đúng lúc.

Ngài gọi ba hoàng tử của mình đến và đứng dậy phán rằng; “Hỡi các con, các con ai nấy cũng đều thông minh và khỏe mạnh nhưng chỉ một trong các con sẽ là người lên trị vì nước Việt Nam yêu dấu của chúng ta. Thế nên ta đã nghĩ ra kế hoạch chọn người sẽ nối ngôi khi ta băng hà.” Hết thảy quần thần trong triều và ba hoàng tử đều lắng nghe hết sức chăm chú vì ai cũng biết rằng vua Hùng là vị vua trị vì thông minh nhất Châu Á.

Vua Hùng tiếp; “Ta muốn mỗi anh em con phải dâng cho ta một món ăn, các con phải tìm lấy cách làm và thành phần để chế biến và sẽ dâng lên ta vào ngày cuối tháng âm lịch này, và ta sẽ biết để chọn xem ai sẽ là người nối ngôi ta.”

Ngay khi vua vừa dứt lời thì cả triều đình bắt đầu bàn tán thì thầm. Họ hiểu rằng đây là lời phán rất thông minh của Ngài bởi lẽ đất nước Việt Nam nhỏ hẹp với một lượng dân số to lớn như vậy thì chắc hẳn ai cũng phải để ý tới việc sản xuất lương thực để đảm bảo rằng ai cũng được no đầy và khỏe mạnh.

Cả ba hoàng tử nhìn nhau ngờ vực; “Làm thế nào vua cha lại có thể đề nghị cách quyết định này được chứ? Tại sao cha không thử sức mạnh của chúng ta nhỉ?”, hoàng tử thứ nhất hỏi. Hoàng tử thứ hai cũng ngạc nhiên “tại sao vua cha không thử tài tính toán của chúng ta?” Vị hoàng tử út thứ ba chỉ nhìn các quần thần và vua cha mà không nói năng gì.

Trong nhiều ngày liền hai vị hoàng tử đầu đã mang theo xe ngựa và người hầu đi khắp Việt Nam, thậm chí ở cả những khu vực thuộc vùng Đông Nam Á để tìm cho được các thành phần ngon nhất về nấu món ngon cho cha. Một người đã đi thuyền qua tận Hải Nam (Biển Đông) để câu được cá ngon nhất, người khác lên tận vùng núi Khmer để tìm món thịt lợn hấp dẫn nhất. Còn Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu ở nhà ngồi ở bậc thềm trước nhà, suy nghĩ về lời yêu cầu của vua cha.

Vào cuối tháng âm lịch mỗi hoàng tử đều đã chuẩn bị món ăn của mình và dâng lên cho vua cha trước mặt tất cả các quần thần trong triều. Vị hoàng tử đầu tiên dâng cho cha món cá chuồn nấu bằng tương ớt thơm lừng và hạt sen đắt tiền trong tô sứ rất ngon mắt. Cả triều đình im phăng phắc khi vua cha xem qua món ăn và đặt nó trở lại trên bàn. Vị hoàng tử thứ hai lên phiá trước và mở cái vạc đồng dâng lên cho cha miếng đùi lợn nấu với nấm rừng và nước xốt dương xỉ rừng quý hiếm. Lại một lần nữa cả triều đình chìm trong im lặng nhìn vua cha đặt cái vạc trên bàn. Đến lượt Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu bước về phiá trước, mở cái giỏ của mình và bày ra một chiếc bánh làm bằng gạo rất to bằng phẳng. Cả triều đình và hai anh của Tiết Liêu đều há hốc miệng kinh ngạc, chẳng ai dám dâng cho vua cha một món ăn quá đơn giản như thế.

Vua Hùng bảo, “Tiết Liêu, nói cho cha nghe tại sao con lại chọn món bánh gạo đơn giản như thế để dâng lên cho cha?”

Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu tâu, “Gạo là thứ ăn quý giá nhất trong vương quốc này, và gạo cũng là thực phẩm dồi dào nhất. Con đã chuẩn bị một món ăn để có thể bày tỏ tình yêu của con đối với cha và cả đất nước Việt Nam xinh đẹp của chúng ta nữa. Con đã nấu chín gạo và đúc vào trong khuôn bánh tròn, và gọi là Bánh Dày để tượng trưng cho bầu trời mà chúng ta đang sống đây. Con cũng nấu một chiếc bánh gạo vuông vức, ở giữa có nhân đậu chín và thịt băm nhỏ được gọi là Bánh Chưng. Đây tượng trưng cho trái đất mà chúng ta đang sống.

Khi Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu nói xong thì hai người anh của chàng cũng cố che đi vẻ to lớn của các món ăn của mình vì giờ đây họ đã hiểu ra sự khôn ngoan của em mình khi dùng những thành phần chế biến thức ăn mà tất cả người Việt Nam đều có được. Ngay lập tức họ quỳ xuống dưới chân đức vua cha và hoàng tử út đồng thời toàn thể triều thần cũng cúi đầu trước vua cha và Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu vì tất cả đã biết rằng Tiết Liêu sẽ là một vì vua tốt nhất sau vua cha. Sau đó, vua Hùng truyền lệnh cho công thức làm bánh này phổ biến cho hết thảy mọi người trong vương quốc của Ngài.

Vì thế, Việt Nam có phong tục là hằng năm cứ đến Tết là người Việt nấu bánh Chưng và Bánh Dày và dùng như món đồ cúng đặc biệt dành để cúng tổ tiên và là món quà đặc biệt dành tặng người thân và bạn bè trong dịp Tết. Bánh Chưng rất bổ dưỡng, có hương vị thơm ngon độc đáo và có thể giữ được trong một thời gian dài. Tất cả các thành phần và nguyên liệu dùng để làm bánh, từ lá gói xanh tới gạo nếp và thịt heo, đậu xanh và tiêu bên trong nhân, tất cả đều là các vị thuốc (theo đông y) có thể giữ cân bằng âm dương giúp máu lưu thông tốt và ngăn ngừa bệnh tật nữa.

Orphanage Update: A Letter to wish everyone a “Happy New Year” and “Thank You”

Below is a letter from one of the students who received a scholarship from ATG.  Each student was given  approximately $48 USD.  Because of this girl ‘s hardship, an ATG friend also gave her extra $1M VND from her own money.


Dear Co,

I am LTNG, a student from Hoa Vang high school, who received the scholarship presented on behalf of ATG.

That day, I had left early, not knowing that you reviewed my file and recognized my hardship. To my surprise, ATG decided to give me an additional scholarship.

When I learned this news and received the additional funds, I was very touched.  I wanted to meet you in person to say thank you, unfortunately I could not, so I am writing you this letter.  I would like to thank you (again and again) and send my thanks to ATG very very much.  Wishing you all have a Happy New Year, filled with healthiness,  joy and happiness.


PS.  Because of the scholarship money, our family’s hardship was lessened a lot this new year.  This is the first time in my life that I have received this much money. My mom is very happy too. Thank you!

Orphanage Update: ATG Helps Children & Students from Disadvantaged Families Celebrate Autumn

by Aileen Nguyen

When I was a young child, I always looked forward to Autumn.  It was not because I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Fall, but because of the Mid-Autumn Festival (Tết Trung Thu) or sometimes also called Children Festival.  During this time, my parents always invited the children from the poor families in our neighborhood to our house to celebrate the festival with us.  Our house had a very large front yard (about an acre) surrounded by coconut trees.  With 40-50 rowdy- exciting children, we made so much noise that seemed to shake down every single coconut from the tree.  My parents served us Moon Cakes, then gave each of us a lantern made out of colorful paper.  We lit up the lanterns then walked around the yard in formations, with my oldest brother leading the bunch, in what we called the marching game.  We sang the children songs as we marched.    Sometimes we walked in circles, then my brother suddenly broke the pattern and switched into the figure eight, a triangle, or a star.  If any of us didn’t follow the person in front of us fast enough, the shape of the parade was broken and we all got confused.  But then we tried to chase the person in front of us so that we could get back in a pattern again.  The game was simple like that, but we had so much fun and laughed so hard.  I remember that the children from our neighborhood always told me that they appreciated the opportunity and could not wait until the next year.

Many years have since passed.  I now have grandchildren of my own, but the memory of the children’s laughter at our celebration always come back when the Mid-Autumn Festival is near.

During the last several years, ATG has sent aid to the orphanages in Vietnam to support the children.  We go back to Hue and Danang every year to visit these orphanages and to identify their needs.  As ATG was able to generate additional funds, we increased and expanded our supports to other orphanages and children programs as our resources allowed.

Uu Dam (Hue):

This year was no different than the prior ones.  I called PT, the Director of Uu Dam to plan out the celebration.  PT told me that besides the children of Uu Dam, there are so many children from extremely poor families in the neighborhood, but PT could not take them all into Uu Dam.  Most of these children are either without fathers, mothers, or both, but still live with relatives who are also very poor.  PT organized for volunteers to provide the children with entertainment, while ATG helped with treats, and supplies.  PT indicated that there were children who walk to school without shoes.  Thus, we asked her to help buy fifty pairs of sandals to give to the kids on the day of celebration.  The celebration was a success!  PT later indicated in her heartfelt letter that the children had so much joy and were encouraged.

For only VND$10 Million, we were able to bring happiness to approximately 300 children.

They got to see the Dragon dance, sang children’s songs, received and enjoyed the treats.


Centers for Street Children – House # 3 & 4:

Our volunteers purchased treats and packed them to be distributed to 67 children of both of these centers.  We spent in the total of VDN$3,160,8998 and purchased treats for them.  It was raining cats and dogs in Danang on the day of celebration, but our volunteers braved the winds and rains and delivered the goodies to the children.

Though there was no Dragon dance, the treats and songs brought smiles to the children’s faces…


One child came and told our volunteer that he promised us that his friends and he will be good and hoped that we will come back again.  Of course, we will!  How can we forget those smiles and the sparkling eyes?

It doesn’t take much to make these children happy or give them hope.  Just a few bags of candies and cookies, or a new pair of plastic sandal helped them cheered with joy.  As PT said in her letter, “We appreciate ATG family very much!  During the many years, ATG has always been walking side-by-side with Uu Dam in the mission to care for the lives of the orphans of Uu Dam.  You have also followed each step of the way for the less fortunate children of Uu Dam, and helped them stepped in to life with confidence.  This time, you also extended your arms and helped PT to reach out to the other even less fortunate children outside Uu Dam, and brought them a little joy and hope during the Festival for the children at such tender ages….Your concern and thoughtfulness during this occasion have just added the needed fuel to the “camp fire” to make the Mid-Autumn Festival for Uu Dam more warm and celebrated!”

Scholarships for orphans and students from disadvantaged families in Danang:

Encouraged by the facts that eight children from Uu Dam orphanage were able to pass the entrance exams to the local universities,  ATG’s board approved and allocated additional funds to help the good students who are either orphans and/or in the less fortunate situations to have the means to continue their educations.  Our volunteers worked with local school boards and teachers and helped select 14 out of 155 children from the NTH school to give them scholarships.  The candidates were selected on the basis of needs (orphan and/or from families with unstable or no income) with recommendation from their teachers and school board for academic achievements.   We awarded these children with VND$30 Million, given twice during the school year.  The first one in the Fall, and the second one in the Spring.  Each student received VND$1 Million each time to help pay for books and school supplies. An exception was given to one kid who lost both parents and has to live with an aunt who is also very poor. She received VND$2 Million.

We also worked with SPC and the NH school district in Danang and identified 20 students who are orphans or from extremely disadvantaged families.  The scholarship given to these students were in the form of a new bicycle for each of them, because they live far away from school and have to go to school by foot.  We were told that they had to spend 30 minutes or more each way to walk to school.  Some of them have to help their mother to sell food early in the morning before school, thus often running to school or were late.  We hope that with these bicycles, the children will have more time to study.  They were also selected on the basis of family situation, need, and academic achievement.

Needless to say, the children were shocked and overjoyed with the generous gifts from ATG.  They all promised to ATG, via our volunteer, that they will study hard and will try to become good individuals and contributors in the future.

We spent VND$1.12 Million  for each bikes, or VND$22.4 Million for 20 of them.


I hope that our ATG group will try to continue with this tradition and help the children from the disadvantaged families celebrate the Mid-Autumn (or sometimes called Harvest Moon or Children Festival).  I also hope that we can reach out to the less fortunate children, not just in Danang and Hue, and not just in Vietnam, but wherever our volunteers can get to the location, and help them smile and excel.

I hope that my letter and pictures will help you smile too!