25.12.06 Convicted paedophile Paul Gadd a.k.a. Gary Glitter may be release from Thuc Doc prison in Ham Tan, Binh Thuan Province in just a matter of weeks, to be returned to the UK. The former glam rocker, age 62, has served just nine months of a three-year sentence for sexually abusing two children. Glitter was jailed for four months in the UK in 1999 for possessing thousands of images of child pornography on his computer. He served just half the sentence for the offense. Glitter will apparently face no jail time upon his return to the UK, but instead will be closely monitored. It is disturbing that Vietnam gives such light sentences to convict child molestors, yet foreign prisoners convicted of drug trafficing face decades in the same prisons. In an area of the world known for problems of child sex-trafficing, certainly stronger punishments are in order.
Phan Thiet School Cleared
16.08.06 The Thanh Nguyen Kindergarten No.2 in Phan Thiet has been cleared of charges made by a state-run health center that it used a hazardous steroids to increase children's weight. The local government issued a statement Wednesday saying there wasn't sufficient evidence to show the school had added dexamethasone to the food it gave its children, as previously elleged.
The announcement came a week after police said there was no evidence to incriminate the preschool. Earlier, a clinical analysis of 117 children from the preschool found no signs of the steroid.
Two months ago Binh Thuan’s Preventive Health Center said that four out of five food samples it took from the kindergarten had tested positive for the steroid.
The People’s Ccommittee now states that the process of sampling had been “loose and subjective”. Furthermore, the province’s deputy mayor instructed the center to discipline its officials responsible for the sampling and testing. The kindergarten’s headmaster has sued the health center for libel.
Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid used only by prescription, induces weight gain through water retention but can cause gastric ulcers, stomach bleeding, bone decay, increase in blood pressure, dizziness, hiccups, joint pain, and nose bleeds.
Read the original story here.
11.06.06 In 1968, when she was 14, Nguyen Ngoc Xuan's family fled their village after their home was destroyed in the war. She received shrapnel wounds during an attack in Saigon's Cho Lon market. That year she began working as a prostitute to help her family survive. A few years later, she married a soldier and left prostitution. Her husband was killed less than a year later, while fighting for the South. To feed their infant son, she returned to the streets. Xuan later married an American G.I. and moved to USA in the early 1970s.
Xuan was living in Eugene, Oregon when she was contacted by film director Barbara Sonneborn to assist as her field translator in Vietnam, for the shooting of her award-winning film, Regret to Inform. During filming, Xuan's own amazing story was discovered and incorperated into the documentary. Xuan, a member of the War Widows International Peace Alliance, has since spoken on numerous occasions about her experience and the impact of war on women, children, and communities.
In 2005, Xuan and her husband Ed returned to Vietnam and opened the New Day (Ngay Moi) Project in Mui Ne. The school teaches sewing and business skills to girls at risk so that they may avoid the lures of prostitution. The project is supported by a cafe adjacent to the school building, as well as non-profit groups in Oregan like Living Earth Gatherings.
In Vietnam, prostitutes are often admired by young girls who see the "glamorous" lifestyle as a way to escape their life of poverty. They only see their beautiful cloths, expensive motorbikes, cell phones, and the adoring men who follow them. Little do they know of the devestating and rampant AIDS problem in Vietnam (the UN estimates nearly 250,000 people are living with AIDS in Vietnam) and other issues of disease, physical abuse, emotional scars, and unwanted pregnancy. Despite having one of the highest abortion rates in the world (about 1.4 million abortions are performed annually in the country, which has a population of 82 million), local orphanages in the province are full of children. Although technically illegal, prostitution is openly practiced. The largest number of patrons are married Vietnamese men.
Xuan's story and information about the New Day project have recently appeared in a number of American newspapers, including The Oregonian and the Great Falls Tribune. The school and cafe are located at 103 Huynh Thuc Khang on the main road near Mui Ne Village proper. The New Day project is one of several charities and NGO's operating in the area. Please see our local charities page for more information.
03.06.06 The Central Health Authority has issued administrative fines in response to the owner of a private kindergarten who put Dexamethasone into children’s food to make them eat more. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid typically prescribed for inflammation and arthritic pain in adults. If taken inappropriately, it can cause upset stomachs in children and even causing gastric ulcers. Health department inspectors conducted tests after receiving complaints from parents because their children were showing signs of unusual weight gain. The owner of Thanh Nguyen Kindergarten No2 in Phan Thiet said she used the drug to help kids gain weight to demonstrate that they were in good care. Authorities stated they wished to set a precedent by imposing a strict punishment on the case.
While this case is certainly a "creative" abuse of chemicals as food additives (although likely a trend), more dangerous ingredients (poisons) are a common problem in Vietnam. Borax is a common known ingredient in processed meats (a preservative) and formaldehyde is often added to beer (for color). Other dangerous poisons are also likely to turn up as well.
07.04.06 The Roever Educational Assistance Program (REAP International), of the USA, has given 40 scholarships, each worth 600,000 VND, to poor students in Binh Thuan, Ben Tre, Dong Nai and Tra Vinh Provinces.
REAP International will contribute 320 scholarships to the Viet Nam Fund for Child Protection and Care this year. This year the fund is expected to grant about 3,000 scholarships, worth 1.7 billion VND total, to poor, disabled and ethnic minority students, and children of war invalids.
Dave Roever, founder of REAP International, served in the US Navy in Vietnam and was severely wounded by a white phosphorus grenade in 1969. Roever was Medevaced out and presumed fatally wounded. Although visibly scarred, he returned to Vietnam in 1974 and 1975 to reach out to the Vietnamese people. In 1993 Dave Roever returned to Vietnam once again, with REAP International, and has been involved in many compassionate activities throughout Vietnam.
Over the past ten years, the REAP International has grantedr scholarships worth $800,000 USD to disadvantaged Vietnamese children. Visit their website at www.daveroever.net.
02.11.05 Students from a high school in southern Binh Thuan province are permitted to stay home Nov 1-3 after nearly 300 fainted. Experts have been called in to take soil and samples and check the lighting system. They initially concluded that this school was free of pollution. More than 100 out of 300 pupils received emergency treatment at a nearby healthcare center. The 300 victims showed signs of mental stress, dizziness and seizures. Doctors are attributing the incident to mass hysteria. Source: ThanhNhienNews.com.