Last update 2/8/2011 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Foreign woman who heals injured hearts

VietNamNet Bridge – Being obsessed by Vietnamese disadvantaged children, a professor of history from the US has devoted her assets and her life to provide vocational training to disabled childrenand to help heart patients in Vietnam.

Dr. Arese (middle).

Since 2003, Dr. Marichia Simcik Arese, an Italian American, a member of the US-based The Spiral organization, has become a friend of many Vietnamese families whose children suffer from inborn heart diseases.

When she was a student, Arese joined American students in demonstrations against the Vietnam War and to call for justice for war victims.

“After the war, the image of war-affected kids was still in my mind, urging me to go to Vietnam,” she said.

In 2000, when she visited Hanoi and Hue, Arese eyed many unfortunate destinies. Three years later, she cooperated with the Hue Medical University to open the Healing for? The Wounded Heart (HWH) store at 23 Vo Thi Sau, Hue city, to create jobs for disabled children and to raise fund for child patients with heart diseases.

Nearly 20 disadvantaged kids in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue were trained. The woman and these kids have worked together to design and produce many items like baskets, bracelets, bags, etc. from recycled materials, such as plastic bags, beer tins, plastic bottles, etc.

She brought some products back to her hometown in Los Angeles to sell to Hollywood movie stars, who voluntarily marketed for the products.

The store at 23 Vo Thi Sau and the enterprise at 69 Ba Trieu, Hue city have become familiar and reliable addresses for foreign visitors in Hue.

At the store, visitors can see a board with the question: “If you buy a product, where will the money go?” The answer is right below: “Profit will be divided into two parts: one for the disable kids working at the enterprise and one for heart child patients. Please don’t bargain! Trust our transparency and it is sure that when you buy these products, you will help many people who need assistance”.

Dr. Tran Viet Nha from the Hue Medical University, said: “Since this shop was opened, with the help ofMs. Marichia we conducted heart operations for 289 children and help dozens of child patients with brain tumorsto be operated by gamma technology. The store also helps disabled children to live independently”.

Orphans and disabled children working at the store have free accommodation and food. They also have stable jobs with a monthly salary of VND800,000-VND1.5 million ($40-75).

“Ms. Marichia’s project has really healed my wounds and the wounds of disabled children and orphans here. I’ll try at my best to help unfortunate children,” said a store employee, Le Thi Uyen Phuong, 32, who suffers from innate polio.

The greatest joy of the American woman and her co-workers is that thanks to this project, two disabled couples got married.

“My wish is that disabled children in Hue can make and sell their products on their own to have stable sources of income, because I cannot be with them forever,” she said.