Member Rob Scott writes: After retiring somewhat early and a family move to Ballina NSW, I decided to learn bridge at the Ballina Bridge Club. Anne Briggs was teaching the beginners course and she continued to mentor me into the ‘big school’.
I continued playing once or twice a week for a couple of years until we relocated back to Sydney for family reasons. Building a house, and settling back into Sydney, and some consultancy work restricted bridge playing to just once a week for about 5 years at the Ku-ring-gai Club. I started playing regularly at PBC when cousin Bruce Kleem took up the game about 3 years ago.
Apart from helping my six adult children with maintenance around their homes, I love bushwalking and walk each week with a bunch of mates and do adventure treks all over Australia.
I have been asked to mention my association with an organisation, of which I am now the Vice President, the Australian Vietnam Volunteer Resource Group (AVVRG) which is a registered NGO aid provider in Vietnam.
I did not serve in the Vietnam War, but some friends did, one of which later in life needed some support from his mates. This resulted in us joining the NSW branch of the AVVRG. Our first big task was to take on fundraising for a major project. Several years of fundraising culminated with a big charity dinner in Government House with Col Joy and Little Patty starring.
Simultaneously to the fundraising we had been negotiating with the Vietnam government and the local authorities in the Ba-ria Vung Tau Province to build a kindergarten in Nui Dat on the location where the main Australian base was during the war. Nui Nat is a low socioeconomic area in a fairly remote rural region in the south east of the country below Ho Chi Minh City.
Negotiations by a bunch of volunteers is not easy with a communist-led, non-English-speaking government, but in October 2010 the kindy was officially opened. It initially was for 40 students, but was soon expanded to 65 with full facilities including daily meals for all students.
Sadly, the kindy was closed last year, but the local education authority, realizing the educational needs of the locals, built a wonderful new facility that would rival any new school in NSW!
The Headquarters of AVVRG is now in NSW with the NSW branch also operating as the national body. We are now focusing on other educational aid programs for a number of needy primary schools.
The Queensland and Victoria branches work with the Vietnam Health Department providing education in their mental and general health sectors, and send volunteer working teams to train staff in their major hospitals and clinics. They have won international acclaim for their work.
The South Australian branch operates a dental care program in the Province. It has a dental clinic at Long Tan (near the site of the famous Long Tan battle and Cross) and also operates a mobile clinic out of a large converted coach - with 2 dental chairs and all the other ‘mod cons’ required to provide comprehensive dental care to the children of the province.
Last year our aid was valued at over $1 million and our aid work is highly appreciated by government agencies in Vung Tau.
For more information on AVVRG or to donate, visit www.avvrg.org.au.