The Connection: July 1991 Edition: Help for Vietnam's Amputees

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Ca Van Tran: ‘The intention is to help the amputees we left behind.’

Help for Vietnam’s amputees

Taco Amigo owner starts organization to supply artificial limbs


Last winter, Ca Van Tran returned to his native Vietnam for the first time in 15 years and was so disturbed by the conditions he saw that he cut his trip short.

But he’s going back again. The Great Falls resident and owner of the Taco Amigo restaurants made the voyage home last year to visit his ailing father. If his visa comes through on time, Ca will return to Vietnam next month on a less personal mission.

Early this year, Ca, 40, founded a non-profit organization based in McLean, where one of his fast-food restaurants is located. Called Viet-Nam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH), the organization is dedicated to providing artificial limbs to amputees in south Vietnam.

With the help of representatives from the Disabled American Veterans, an orthopedic organization,and a relief foundation, Ca hopes to use the trip to distribute prosthetic and medical supplies to some of the estimated 115,000 Vietnamese who lost limbs during the war or from accidents. According to Ca, many of the amputees in Vietnam either have to go without prosthetics, or use primitive, ill-fitting artificial limbs. ‘The intention is to help the amputees we left behind, and at the same time to help everybody else,”
Ca said. During his travels last year, the devastating poverty and violations of human rights he witnessed were so overwhelming that he wished he could help everyone. He decided that helping the handicapped was a feasible way to aid the needy. This is the first time that the Vietnamese community in America has made an effort like this, he said.“People get busy with their own life,” Ca said. “‘They don’t feel obligated.”” Thinking about relatives still in Vietnam can be painful for Vietnamese-Americans, he added.

VNAH has already raised approximately $100,000 in donations, Ca said, that will fund the trip and the supplies. The organization has applied for a grant to help establish and supply prosthetic clinics in major south Vietnamese cities including Saigon.

While the United States still forbids trade with Vietnam, Ca, said that the humanitarian objectives of his organization have won the endorsement of the United States Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, and of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Ca stresses that the VNAH’s activities are non-partisan. “I’m walking a thin line,” he said. If he gets too much support from the United States, the Vietnamese could think that he works for the CIA, he said. But if he gets to much support from the Vietnamese, he could be labeled a Communist sympathizer here.

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