Written by founders, Gregg and Caroline Marston
100% of the proceeds from the sale of each bag will be donated to the Duc Son Orphanage outside of Hue, Vietnam.
These beautiful sail bags are hand sewn by a lovely couple in Saigon, Vietnam and each is as unique as the sail from which they are made.
Part of the original vision around these bags was to provide work for unemployed Vietnamese people needing income. The material for these bags is used sail cloth from my 52-year-old, 36’ Alden Mistral sloop, which I inherited from my father ten years ago. He had saved his old sails as he replaced them with new ones. I did the same, with a dream of making bags from them sometime in the future. A number of these bags are sewn from the boat’s original mainsail, which my dad had saved and stored.
When Caroline and I visited an orphanage outside of Hue, Vietnam in November of 2016 on a VBT bicycling vacation, we were moved by what we saw and experienced, and our idea gained more purpose and traction. After visiting this lovely country in which Americans have such an anguished and conflicted history, we wanted to give back somehow. So we decided to have the bags manufactured by Vietnamese people needing work, sell them in the USA, then donate the full proceeds to this orphanage.
The orphanage was founded by Minh Tu, a Buddhist nun, shortly after the Vietnam conflict ended. Being from South Vietnam, her job as a nurse was terminated by the administration of the North after the war was over. She told me that she walked out of her home the next day and found a two-day-old baby left on her doorstep. She kept the baby, who became the seed of her orphanage, which is now home to around 200 children. Some were abandoned at birth, and other children are from families too poor to support them.
But they struggle. They need food -- good quality food; clothing; bedding; and books for school to become educated. They need societal skills to develop themselves as worthy young people in an impoverished country that does not necessarily recognize them as members of the society.
The proceeds from these sail bags are part of a goal to raise $15,000 to fund a project that will help sustain the orphanage. Minh Tu is currently developing an organic mushroom hothouse and farm near the orphanage. She feeds the children locally grown, organic food to teach them nutrition and to keep them healthy. The orphanage family will use a portion of their mushroom production to supplement their daily diet, and they will sell the remainder to help provide income for the daily expenses of running the organization.
I am collaborating with a local woman who is a former business partner from VBT days. She will be monitoring the itemized uses of the donated funds to ensure accountability of the investment. Lam and her family have known Minh Tu for decades. I personally returned to Hue in April to assess the workings and the needs of the orphanage, and recently again in November. It is a shoestring operation and does not have much formal structure, but it is real and Minh Tu has a solid vision. The children of the orphanage are her family, to whom she has dedicated her heart and her life.
Please consider purchasing a sail bag.
You will indeed impact a deserving child in a positive way.