Thai Nguyen, a province still poor with a mid-size population of 1.1 million, used to base the “Green Zone” of the revolution, where the leadership of Vietnam stayed and worked during the resistance for 9 years against the French. The economy relies on tea, agriculture (rice) and raising pigs and chicken. Thai Nguyen is famous for tea, and an old Russian style steel mill.

Thai Nguyen has about 25,262 registered victims of Agent Orange, 12,000 have been approved by the state under Decision 54 (in 2008, 7,000 were approved, and in 2009, there will be about 5,000 more). Most of the remaining registered victims were asked to supply more information. They were supported by the government: level 1 (80% or more disability) 1,083,000 dong/month ($62 US), and level 2 (60 to 80% disability) 683,000 dong/month ($39 US). Their illness became worst and visible after 30 years after the war ended. There are about 600+ second and third generations born with severe defects.

We met with the VAVA Thai Nguyen President Nguyen Van Khang, and Hoang Ha Long (Office Manager). We missed the Vice President, Dr. Hoang Duc, who traveled to the villages on the behalf of VAVA. VAVA Thai Nguyen chapter was formed late 2006. Today it has chapters in 9 districts, and 50% of the villages. It will complete the formation of subchapters in all AO affected villages this year. An AO disabled children center will also be built.

President Nguyen Van Khang and Mr. Hoang Ha Long greeted us at their two-room modest office near the Mayor’s.

The next day, together with Mr. Hoang Ha Long, passing by Phu Dinh, Trung Luong and stopped at Dinh Hoa District and met the VAVA District Chapter President Ma Cong Bon and Mr. Tran Chan (Vice President). They have built chapters in 9 villages, and will visit Trung Luong, Nam Vy and Tan Thinh in the next period to complete the formation of VAVA subchapters.