First Visit to Duc Son Orphanage
As we were celebrating OrFA’s one year anniversary on April 2, 2013 at a small bar in the East Village,
we reflected on the journey we’ve taken to get to this point. After visiting Duc Son Orphanage in 2011,
we were inspired by the joy and appreciation these children had after receiving our donations of new
shoes and school fees for the year. Our relatively small donations elicited not only hopeful faces and
bright smiles but also planted the potential for a brighter future for these children. This future is not
always certain as it is for people who have been blessed to have nurturing parents who support their
education. We came back from this trip with a sense of purpose and managed to get our other co-
founder, Sen Lin, to join the cause. Although this project turned out to be much more complex than
we initially, perhaps naively, expected, what got us through those difficult moments was knowing that
we had the support of our friends, family and volunteers behind each and every one of our efforts. It
started with our executive team (which included us, Nam Hoang, Nicole Fowler, Deandrea Woods and My Le) and grew
to a team of over 40 people who are involved with OrFA through in various teams and functions. Our
volunteers and supporters are the foundation of this organization and we feel very lucky to have such
great people to collaborate with everyday.
Everything has progressed very quickly including getting our 501(c)(3) in record time. Along the way,
there have been various roadblocks, like establishing our presence in Vietnam. We are lucky to have
great volunteers in Vietnam to navigate and work with the local government as well as our team of
volunteers here in the United States that have pressed on relentlessly through any issues. We couldn’t
have done it without them. We are very excited for some of our projects in the coming year including
finalizing our NGO status and implementing our Fresh Start and Future Prep programs in Vietnam.
We can’t believe that it has been a full year since we thought about creating a non-profit to help these
children who touched our lives during that first visit. If someone had told us that we will have OrFA fully
up and running within a year, with volunteers spanning the US and Vietnam, we would have said that
seems like an extremely ambitious and almost impossible target. Yet, we have grown tremendously as
an organization and have built a team of amazing volunteers. So, as we sit here celebrating our hard
work over the past year with the people who have helped us get OrFA to where it is today, we feel
blessed and excited for things to come.
Our first year was about creating something from a concept. Our second year is about laying the ground
work and making it one step closer to helping these orphans fulfill their future. Thank you to everyone
for all of your help and cheers to a great second year.
– Chau and Thai-Anh