HFH Vietnam Completes First Veterans builders

May 7, 2012

Former War Veterans And Some Family Members Of War Veterans From U.S. Work With Three Vietnamese Families To Build Homes

(Top) Volunteers with Habitat home partner Bong (front row, second from left); (center) volunteer Tom Chap; and (bottom) home partner Thuy (right) and her two daughters with T-shirts presented by the volunteers.

HANOI, 7 May 2012: Thirty-one former war veterans and family members of war veterans from the United States have completed a build with Habitat for Humanity in Cho Gao district, Tien Giang province, southern Vietnam.

It was the first time that some of the veteran volunteers were in Vietnam since the end of the last war fought in the Mekong Delta country nearly 40 years ago.

Together with three Habitat for Humanity families, the volunteers built traditional brick houses with tin roofs complete with water and sanitation facilities over 10 days in April.

Ken Bensen, 26, a Habitat staff member who has led several Habitat builds in the past, said the Veterans builders was particularly memorable. “This has been the best build I have ever been a part of,” he said.

Volunteer Neal Pointer wrote in his blog: “Our homeowner continues to amaze us. Thuy, pronounced ‘twee’ is a single parent of two daughters, one fourteen and one nine. She is at the site when we arrive and works harder than any homeowner I’ve seen and harder than us.”

Habitat home partner Pham Thi Hong Thuy said: “The volunteers have worked so hard, considering the distance they have had to travel to get here. They don’t seem to mind working under the sun and in the hot weather. Seeing the team work so hard makes me want to work just as hard to build the house.”

Many of the veterans felt that, by participating on the build, they were finally able to give back to a country that evoked strong memories for the past 40 years. “It’s great to have taken this small step toward world peace,” said US veteran volunteer Tom Chap.

In turn, Habitat home partner Luu Thi Bong said: “The past doesn’t matter. All that matters now is that these volunteers have come here to help build a house for my family and me. I can now live in peace knowing that my daughter has a decent place to live.”