ORANGE INITIATIVE (OI)
The impact and tragedy of war does not end with the silencing of guns. Agent Orange/Dioxin’s pernicious effect on environment and humans in Vietnam persists to this day, more than forty years after the official end of the war. According to the 2009 census, today in Viet Nam, an estimated more than six million persons or nearly 8% of the population live with disabilities (PWD). Of those a sizable number are Agent Orange survivors (AOS) and their offsprings.
Inspired by a humanitarian desire to raise the community’s awareness of and empathy with the efforts and struggle of PWD/AOS to overcome their challenging conditions and circumstances and help them do so, Ho Chi Minh City Peace and Development Foundation (HPDF) is promoting the Orange Initiative (OI).
In January 2017, in coordination with HCMC Run, a Ho Chi Minh City-based international running event, OI made it possible for a group of PWD/AOS to participate in a 2 km walk/run within the 5km run. Other support has been disbursed in the form of scholarships, bicycles, special allowances, repair for one rundown house and sponsorship for a wood-carving training class. A Grant Program to award two grants for individual/group/organization with a project in support of PWD/AOS is also in progress. One such grant is currently funding a literacy class for illiterate AOS children and youth in Cu Chi District, HCMC. It is planned, if resources permit, to identify one or two young members of the PWD/AOS community with high learning potential to receive multi-year support (“Journey Scholarship”) to complete a university degree or even higher.
The 2017 HCMC Run was a trial occasion to integrate the humanitarian dimension in support of PWD/AOS to a broad community activity. Building on this outcome, Olympic gold medalist Takahashi Naoko will join the 2018 HCMC Marathon and take part in OI activities with a group of Japanese runners.