My name is Rik Carnes and I am a disabled Marine who fought in the war in Vietnam 1967–68–69, where I was contaminated with AGENT ORANGE/DIOXIN. Back in the states my first child died from a massive birth defect. He was born without a head. That is done.
I returned to Vietnam in 2007 on a spiritual healing trip and for closure from the war. My nightmares from the war finally went away and I continued to return to this lovely country.
I met Miss Thuong and her family 4 years ago when I was doing a human interest story and became involved in some charity work to help disabled children in Vietnam. She is also a victim of this terrible chemical that was sprayed on this country (by the American government ) during the war. She stole my heart and filled the hole that had been left in it when my son died. For the past five years I am in Vietnam more than Miami. I live in Saigon and visit Cu Chi Village every few weeks to spend the day with Thuong and her family. We eat, talk and play together. She calls me uncle and I bring her school supplies and fresh educational DVDs every visit. This summer I gave her a portable children's swimming pool. She is now the most popular kid in the village! And when the children are finished swimming and playing in the pool, her parents use the water to water the crops in their garden. These guys waste nothing. And the water cost money to pump out of the ground with the electric pump. I have been working with several charitable organizations to help better the family's financial situation, life and educational opportunities for Thuong. To expand her educational tools I placed a large TV with a CD/DVD/Blu-ray device in the family bedroom with a series of teaching CDs. For English, medicine, geography etc. which I update regularly for the child. This is in addition to her regular school studies but she is eager to learn all the more! Her goal is to become a doctor. I believe she can do this as she is an exceptionally bright child with the equivalent of straight A's, consistently. This June I was able to facilitate her getting a pair of legs and now she can walk! My next goal for her is to get her outfitted with hands. With new technology that will finally enable her to feed herself etc., not with her stumps but with hands! To grasp to hold to wave. With the new technology, she will be able to do these things.
My financial resources have dried up and I need help and if you can find it in your heart to help us she will be able to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor. We need your help and cannot do this without your help. I believe she can do this. Thank you so much.
Sincerely, Rik Carnes