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Some of you might not be aware, but Vratim is actually a minority owned and operated business! Two of our owners, Nguyễn Thị Bích Ngọc and Thomas Trường Filbert (mother and son respectively), are Vietnamese. Our shoes and some of our other products are even made in Việt Nam too. Additionally, one of our artist reps, Tyler Saczawa, is actually Korean with his birth name being Seung Won Li 승원.
Because of this we wanted to do something special for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month here in the United States. We will be releasing a special new line with 20% of each sale being donated to The John Vietnam Education Fund which provides education for the poor children and college scholarships for the young students in Vietnam.
Check out the new Vratim X APAHM line now!
Below is a letter written by Ngoc, to all of our friends, family, customers, and supporters offering some more insight:
During the Tet Offensive in 1968, the North Vietnamese were taking over my hometown. My grandfather decided it was best that we leave town and go to the safe haven called Con Phung. We left with just the clothes on our back, barely enough money or food, walking all the way, and taking the back roads sometimes ditches. Along the way we met many kind strangers who shared their food and shelter with us. One even gave my grandfather an umbrella to keep him cool under the hot sun. Even though I was a child at the time I've never forgotten their kindness. For some time, I have been thinking of a way to return the kindness back to my countrymen and found this great opportunity to do so.
The war has been over for almost three decades. Viet Nam has rebuilt itself - life for many has improved tremendously, but there are still many more Vietnamese lives in poverty. Some live with no running water, in thatch roof houses, and barely enough food. Most of these people that live in remote cities earn their living by selling anything from food to various merchandise or working as laborers, servers, farm workers, and other various low income jobs. The average income for these people is little more than $100 a month to take care of their family, oftentimes including elderly parents who are living with them. In Viet Nam there is no program to help senior citizens, single mothers, or scholarships for young students to enter college.
Here in the United States, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We would like to take this opportunity to help the charity, Children of Vietnam, which began in 1998 by Mr. Ben Wilson and Ms. Luong Thi Huong, two friends who started out bringing food, medicine, clothing, etc. on a scooter to the poor children and their families in the Viet Nam countryside. Today Children of Vietnam is a well established organization providing care for children with disabilities, education, housing, nutrition along with helping single mothers to be self-sufficient. One can even travel with them to Viet Nam and see their program at work!
Part of Children of Vietnam is The John Vietnam Education Fund which provides education for the poor children and college scholarships for the young students. John “Vietnam” Nguyen was a young Vietnamese rapper from Uptown Chicago who passed away in 2012 while saving a friend’s life. John Nguyen spent his life promoting a positive attitude, peace, and inspiring youth to achieve their goal. He also donated the proceeds of his CD sales to the Children of VietNam organization helping the vulnerable Vietnamese children. We are inspired by John’s example and will be donating a portion of the proceeds from these t-shirt sales toward his education fund.
We appreciate your support and thank you for working with us to help those in need!
-Ngoc / The Vratim Team