Did you know over a thousand families live in garbage dumps in Vietnam? This is because they are too poor to afford homes, food, or a proper education. Sometimes mothers have to sell their daughters to traffickers or brothels just to get enough money to feed their other children. The Catalyst Foundation helps the children who live in poverty to get the education they need by raising money or by having volunteers come to Vietnam and help them build schools. They also offer an annual Vietnam culture camp in Minnesota and the northeast United States to promote Vietnamese culture to children and families who have been adopted from Vietnam.
Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker founded the Catalyst Foundation is 1999. She was also born in Vietnam but got her inspiration when she adopted her two daughters, Cassidie and Natalie. Caroline grew up during the time when South Vietnam collapsed and she and her family escaped on a tugboat with over 200 people. They arrived in the Philippines, but were eventually sponsored and immigrated to the United States.
She decided to start the foundation when she saw how many children were homeless and living in dumps, just barely surviving on the little food they could find there. Caroline started out small by buying small items such as baby clothes and diapers and sending them to orphanages in Vietnam. When she saw mothers selling their young girls to brothels, she changed her focus by not only helping the orphanage but also helping the mothers and daughters fight back.
The cultural tour that the Catalyst Foundation offers is different from the culture camp because it takes place in Vietnam! During the time that they are there, the young teens and adults works with the Catalyst members to help build schools, feed children and try to provide the Vietnamese families with anything they need. It’s a lot of work, but the families greatly appreciate it and just knowing that they did a good thing for someone else is a great reward.
The Vietnam camps are located in Minnesota and the Northeast in the summer. During the three day weekend, Caroline and her colleagues set up activities that are not only fun, but also involve the Vietnamese culture. The children or teens as well as adults often make good friends and even keep in touch after the camp is over. They also serve traditional Vietnamese food such as Pho, which is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup, and Cafe Sua Da, which is a rich dark French roasted coffee blended with chicory.
The Catalyst for Hope Foundation helps Vietnam in many different ways, primarily by donating money and physically helping the families. You can help this organization by simply donating money or by volunteering to go to Vietnam and helping them. I love this organization because I was adopted from Vietnam and I sometimes feel a connection when I attend culture camps. This year, my family has enough money to go on the cultural tour and I get the chance to help the less fortunate. These are the reasons why I am a Catalyst, to end human trafficking.