DaNang Children’s Center for Victims of Agent Orange Host US Veterans

The Spring 2012 Veterans (US) for Peace Tour of Viet Nam included a day spent at two centers for children, a project of the Danang Association of Victims of Agent Orange (DAVA). Our group was treated like royalty! Clearly, visitors are welcome.

At each center, we were greeted by a receiving line of children. Each of us walked in, single-file, shaking hands and exchanging smiles and boisterous hellos.

The children have a variety of physical and mental deformities. Common physical traits in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation of victims appears to be missing fingers, many having only two, and webbing of fingers. I was acutely aware of these, as I shook hands. Most, if not all, were mentally challenged. Still, most seemed genuinely joyful. Their joy was really evident during their performance time which I captured on video (which I still don’t know how to upload!).

After their talent show, we were asked to perform! In desperation, we, 13 adults, somehow managed a unique rendition of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It was NOT pretty, but they loved us anyway!

This was our first direct encounter with children affected by the US Government's use of the herbicide, Agent Orange/Dioxin, in a war that ended for Americans (or did it?) in 1973. The war in Viet Nam should have taught us that once begun, a war never really ends.

This was our first direct encounter with children affected by the US Government’s use of the herbicide, Agent Orange/Dioxin, in a war that ended for Americans (or did it?) in 1973. The war in Viet Nam should have taught us that once begun, a war never really ends.

This young man has a homemade set of wheels, his alternative to the use of his legs. He's greeting John from Bellingham, WA, as Allan, a resident of Alaska, looks on.

This young man has a homemade set of wheels, his alternative to the use of his legs. He’s greeting John from Bellingham, WA, as Allan, a resident of Alaska, looks on.

Ms. Hien, founder and president of DAVA, presents silk flowers made by the children to Chuck and Paul. This woman brings extraordinary vision and passion to her work.

Ms. Hien, founder and president of DAVA, presents silk flowers made by the children to Chuck and Paul. This woman brings extraordinary vision and passion to her work.

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