Last week, Gregg Marston visited the Duc Son Orphanage in Hue, Vietnam, where the donations from Shake Hands With the World have, in addition to the mushroom farm project’s success, been providing protein for all the children for two weeks per month. He arrived at dinner time and was able to see everyone before, during and after the meal. It's a happy time of day because the children are playing, laughing and eating. Nothing better.
While in Central Vietnam, Gregg travelled to Hoi An to meet the four teenagers for whom Shake Hands With the World provided scholarships to attend the highly acclaimed 18-month culinary and hospitality training in Hoi An last fall through STREETSInternational.
Two of the young adults are from the Duc Son Orphanage and two are from another orphanage in Hue. They are all now speaking English, are very happy and are learning so much about the hospitality industry. Their futures are bright.
Thank you to all who have purchased sail bags and/or made donations. You are giving these beautiful children opportunities and lives beyond imagining. Please see the wonderful photos from Gregg's trip.
Dear SHAKE HANDS WITH THE WORLD supporters,
As we approach the holidays, we thought it appropriate to offer an update on our work through the efforts of Shake Hands with the World Foundation.
Since the Foundation’s inception, we’ve had a goal of raising $15,000. Through the sale of our bags over the past year and along with some very generous contributions, we have raised just over $24,500. As a result, we have been able to support three meaningful and significant efforts for the underprivileged children of Vietnam.
Our first endeavor to raise money for the organic mushroom farm was successful and we donated $15,000 towards this effort.
After building the organic mushroom farm last year, this past September we donated $7,800 to STREETSInternational as a scholarship to four orphaned teenagers to attend the highly acclaimed 18-month culinary and hospitality training in Hoi An. STREETSInternational provides impoverished youth with professional level of training and apprenticing, including English language and life skills, for careers in culinary arts and hospitality service. These young adults will get jobs in 5-star hotels in Danang as a result of their training. From poverty with no hope, to a respectable career in hospitality industry, STREETSInternational is making an incredible difference in many kids' lives. It is a wonderful thing and we are grateful to be able to support such an impactful cause.
Lastly, we are also collaborating with our friend, Miss Lam, and her family (owners of the Hotel Pilgrimage Village) to donate the last of our funds contributed to date ($1,572). This money will be used to purchase protein-rich meals once a week for six months for the children at the orphanage. The orphanage currently can only afford protein in the children’s meals once a month.
We recently returned home from another journey to Vietnam with over 100 new & enhanced bags to sell. Each bag is truly unique and handcrafted from original sails. The new totes have longer straps for ease and comfort; an internal pocket for keys, cell phone, or an iPad; and they are each lined for even greater durability.
With a goal of selling our new shipment of sail bags before the New Year, and as a thanks to you all, we are offering each new tote for $85, 2 bags for $150, 3 bags for $200, and 5 bags for $300.
Proceeds from the sales of the bags going forward will continue to fund the scholarships at STREETSInternational and offer continued support to the orphanage. The Foundation will continue to seek areas not just in Vietnam, but around the world where we can provide assistance. Our goal is to raise an additional $25,000 by the end of 2019.
If you plan to order a bag for Christmas, the order deadline is Tuesday, December 18. We will do our very best to get you the bag on time. Otherwise, we can send a card that can be put under the tree saying the bag will arrive by the New Year.
Please help us support the orphanage community in Vietnam. With your help we can improve the lives of many.
Thank you....and Happy Holidays.
Gregg and Caroline
P.S. If you prefer not to purchase a bag but feel inspired to make a donation to the Foundation, please click here.
Dear Shake Hands With The World supporters:
Last Wednesday I returned from a whirlwind visit to the Duc Son orphanage in Hue, Vietnam. It was an exciting, informative and inspirational trip and I’d like to share some of the experience.
I went to Vietnam for the prime purpose of informing Minh Tu, the nun who founded and runs the orphanage, that we collectively have raised her $15,000, thanks to all of you who have purchased a sail bag or offered a cash donation. To say she was gleeful, giddy with excitement and ever-so grateful would be an understatement. Even our friend, Lam, said she has never witnessed Minh Tu so excited. And she has known her all her life.
During my meeting with Minh Tu (with our friend, Lam, interpreting), we discussed the importance of 100% of the SHWTW sail bag donations going to the mushroom farm, and confirmed that Lam will be checking in on this regularly. Minh Tu understands and is so profoundly grateful for this partnership. Meeting with someone and being face-to-face in this country goes a long way.
I visited the orphanage to see for myself - and to represent your support - the work that has been done with the funds we have raised thus far. Your donations built the mushroom farm processing facility, which is a reinforced steel building, partially open on all sides with a chain-link fence surrounding it. The structure is solid. It will withstand another typhoon. Without this, there would be no possibility of sustained mushroom production. It is truly awesome. Thank you.
I spent one afternoon filling crates with pasteurized rice straw, which we layered with mushroom spawn, that ultimately produces the mushrooms. This straw incubates for 10-14 days and are then moved to a fruiting chamber to allow for additional mushroom growth. It is an efficient and intriguing method for volume production.
In the photos you will also see over 2,000 hanging bags. These are shitake mushrooms being cultivated through a different process, where sawdust is mixed with the enzymes and the mushrooms fruit from holes cut in the bags before hanging.
That evening, we had dinner with all the beautiful children in the orphanage. Lam and I were treated like celebrities; we were seated at the head table and served two chicken legs instead of one. Everyone was so happy and so PROUD...the children, the staff, Minh Tu, and the entire orphanage family. It was a joyful, wonderful, and powerful experience.
Vietnam is not only a country diverse in its topography and cultures, it is a country with a difficult history, whose people possess great resilience, perseverance, and compassion. Many Vietnamese are very poor, yet very proud and optimistic for their future. The country has a growing demographic of a young, energetic and enthusiastic middle class. And a growing entrepreneurial spirit, with an unusually supportive communist government. So much of what I saw and experienced, both at the orphanage and beyond, gave me great hope and inspiration.
So, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for turning this Shake Hands With The World vision into reality. With excess and additional funds, we expect to expand our giving to other orphanage-related endeavors in Vietnam. In fact, during this visit I met with two terrific organizations whose relationship we will continue to develop. But more on that to follow!
We wish you a festive and joyous holiday season with your friends and family.
Love and gratitude,
Gregg and Caroline