Other than on television, I have seldom seen grown men cry. The first time was many years ago when my father came home from the dentist with his new false teeth and he was coming out of the washroom after having looked at himself in the mirror. My mother came down the stairs and saw the tears in his eyes, gave him a big hug, and that was the end of tears over one of the hallmarks of aging.
A second time was last year when I was interviewing two local Viet Nam veterans, Dick Moyer and Dr. Richard Small. I wrote an article about their 2012 trip to Vietnam to build housing for a very poor rural Vietnam family. Moyer was talking about his experiences in the war – raw experiences – and the tears came. Later as he and Small told me of the joy that came from returning to Viet Nam and helping a poor family have a sturdy brick home, the tears came for a different reason.
What’s new this time around is that Small and Moyer are returning to Viet Nam one more time. They will be part of a team of Americans, mostly Vietnam veterans, going to My Tho, Vietnam along the Mekong River in Tien Gang Province. This time the group is planning to build five houses, again under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity. The dates are August 23 to September 7, 2013 and as of this writing, spots on the 45-person team are still available.
Going back to Vietnam is a commitment in time, energy and money. People who want to join the team make a nonrefundable $350 deposit toward the program cost and then, 30 prior to departure, pay an additional $1440. Air fare is a separate expense for the volunteers.
Habitat for Humanity describes the work in Vietnam as involving home renovation or complete home construction. Volunteers may help with some, but not necessarily all, of the following activities: transporting materials; filling foundations with dirt, stone and sand; compacting floors; mixing mortar; laying bricks and cleaning and painting windows and doors. Hard work yes, but the squad mentality of cooperation can make miracles. One bit of good news about this year’s journey is that Vietnam Habitat has agreed “to allow us to buy cement mixers for the projects this year”.
Moyer, 66, recently said in an email to friends, “Last year, I went to Vietnam mainly because I was curious. This year I will be taking my little candle to try and bring some light to this often dark and dangerous world. As Americans it is our responsibility to maintain the beacon of hope and possibilities that the United States of America stands for.”
More information on the Habitat for Humanity project in Vietnam can be found here.