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New social media site tackles Agent Orange

Agent Orange: The killing and maiming goes on

A new social networking site called aims to help younger generations of Vietnamese Americans connect with one another through their culture and roots, raising awareness about the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam –

 Team report at the San Francisco Chronicle

A new social networking site called aims to help younger generations of Vietnamese Americans connect with one another through their culture and roots.

“We are using cutting edge technology, technology that young people are growing up with and are very familiar with social media,” said co-founder Uyen Nguyen, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics. “Our philosophy is that if you open up a dialogue, and if there is a connection with things in the community, there is to be a huge momentum that we can expect in the future of many different causes.”

OneVietnamhopes to reach a potential audience of 300,000 Vietnamese Americans ranging in ages from 22 to 34. “This particular age group was born with Internet — and they are most familiar with social media,” Nguyen explained. Currently, OneVietnam has 6,600 “likes” on Facebook.”Our network is set up to connect Vietnamese people across the world,” Nguyen said. “Our first target is Vietnamese Americans.”

By connecting with people who might share common interests, OneVietnam hopes to raise awareness on a variety of issues, including: the lingering effects of Agent Orange.

“Vietnamese Americans is a crucial issue that unfortunately many people here don’t know much about,” Nguyen said. “It is our hope that the knowledge of this tragedy will improve.”

Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War to defoliate land and clear enemy cover. Its byproduct, dioxin, has been shown to cause a long list of cancers, illnesses and birth defects — not just among people exposed to it, but in people living near “hot spots,” areas in Vietnam where dioxin was either stored or loaded.Just this week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that includes $12 million to help clean up a “hot spot” at Da Nang Airport, according to a Vietnamese news report. Earlier, the U.N. announced a $5 million projectto help clean up Bien Hoa airport.

OneVietnam’s Talking Points blog has offered many perspectives aimed at raising awareness about the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

An article posted by Neil Nguyen in April, for example, noted why social media could be an effective way to help people suffering from Agent Orange.

“Vietnamese experts send home $7 billion every year, without the help of social networking,” Nguyen wrote. “Imagine if OneVietnam Network is able to connect all generations of Vietnamese and friends of Vietnam, the awareness of problems like Agent Orange is large, and the cost of contributing is small.”

Another article, posted by a U.S. Fulbright recipient in May, offered a personal view on why support from abroad is so important.

“The first few moments you are in one of their bedrooms, and their reality sets in, your heart begins to sink,” wrote Valerie Dao, graduate of UC Irvine, in a her entry. “In a country with a health care system that is already poor, children with special needs are particularly marginalized (on many different levels). Not only have many of these children been abandoned by their parents, but to say that their medical treatment and living facilities are subpar would be a major understatement.”

In July, Talking Points published an editorialmapping out a strategy for helping people in Vietnam. This is a condensed version of the pieced written by editor-in-chief, Brian Luong, a student at Harvard.

Phase 1: More Testing

The Ford Foundation and other investors have developed “a multifaceted approach to test and contain dioxin-contaminated soils, restore landscapes, develop treatments and support centers for affected Vietnamese, and educate the US public and policymakers.”

Phase 2: More Talking

 In 2003, Ford funded a conference in Washington D.C on the future relationship of the U.S. and Vietnam, as well as the issue of Agent Orange. The conference involved many senior officials from both countries including government officials and academics.

Phase 3: More Engaging with Public Social media has become the main way for people to get and deliver news and social awareness. “OneVietnam Network is committed to educating and engaging the public about the impact of Agent Orange and current efforts to help victims of this toxic chemical.”

That’s why it seems to make perfect sense that a social media site for young Vietnamese Americans is getting involved. “It’s an issue that people think its in the past. But our website shows that it’s very a current issue,” said James Bao, executive director of OneVietnam.

View the original article at Veterans Today

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