In 2006, while in an airplane returning from Asia, I first met Hoang. At the time, she was working on her Masters Degree at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont and we quickly became friends. Later in 2006, after returning to Vietnam, Hoang traveled with my family during a visit to a small town south of Hanoi, Vietnam called Phu Ly. Phu Ly is the birthplace of our adopted son David (Quyet), where he lived for the first 5 – 6 years of his childhood.
David was an orphan, but with a very large group of aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives in Phu Ly. Hoang helped us navigate thru the family dynamics of a High School kid returning to visit his biological relatives for the first time. We are forever greatful for Hoangs skillful support during this important and very emotional encounter.
Hoang, also known as Mai Thi Kim Hoang, is a professional and experienced social worker who has dedicated her life to the support of Children with HIV.
About Hoang (In her own words):
As a social worker with over 25 years working for women and children’s rights, I understand the struggles of people with HIV, especially those children who are left behind as orphans with deadly HIV. I often ask, “What is their crime?” Still, these HIV-infected kids are living life as social criminals who have little or no hope. While working as a volunteer (after graduating from SIT in 2006 and returning to Vietnam), I have witnessed pain and misery all around.
I see myself working effectively for orphans and individuals affected by the deadly HIV disease in projects expanded all across the Mekong Delta. I am a strong woman who is determined to make lives better for such children all across Vietnam. I hope to see many childcare centers, established to help children in need so they are no longer seen as social outcasts.
I hope to provide programming and support for provide basic education, nutrition, counseling, peer networks, entertainment, social activities, and home care for the children. I want caretakers to feel equipped and well supported to become self reliant so they can provide good care for the HIV kids as foster parents.
I want to build a strong community, that works together to overcome the spread of this disease any further. I would like to see that in coming five years the rate of HIV infections could be lessened to none. I know this is difficult but with small projects and strong commitments this is not impossible.
I would like this project to serve as an example for others who need some inspiration and motivation to initiate such projects in their own district, province or country.
I have gained practical experience while working with these children for a long time. I find myself to be well equipped in terms of basic skills, education and practical expertise to carry out this project successfully.
I am a native to the part of the country where the project operates. Language helps me in understanding their daily routines and personal, social, and economic problems they face every day.
I have worked in many different capacities with various organizations on many projects so I have developed working contacts and personal networking with experts and other important people in the community.
I have developed a team of like-minded people with some special technical skills, like doctors, nurses who will be able to disseminate regular trainings and home visits to the caretakers of the HIV infected children. With adequate funding, we will be able to reach many people.
I am trained in planning, implementing and monitoring such projects.
Dan: I have been able to see first-hand the great work that Hoang and the Warm Hold Team, the passion they have for addressing an important and difficult problem, and the positive impact on the lives of many.