Yesterday, Cameron Luke donated a small mountain of food and supplies to the Long Hai Centre for the Social Protection of Children.
The Centre is located near Vung Tau (90 minutes by ferry from HCMC) and Cameron is the Managing Director of Lagler Australia which distributes to the timber floor-sanding trade.
And that trade would be… back in Australia!
So what drives a businessman from Melbourne to support a Centre so many thousands of kilometres away?
Cameron was first introduced to Vietnam on a family holiday in 2011 when he visited his brother Rowan Luke who is the Treasurer of the Commonwealth Bank Vietnam (a Bronze Sponsor of AusCham).
The holiday to Vietnam included a visit to Vung Tau to see the Vietnam Swans AFL team play the Hong Kong Dragons at the Lord Mayor’s Oval (now known as the Greyhound Racing Track). This was the home of the VFL (Vietnam Football League) where Australian troops would play football from 1966-71 during the war. The Vietnam Swans since 2010, have continued the footy tradition playing a team from Asia on ANZAC Day, or the nearest Saturday to ANZAC Day, every year to help commemorate the sacrifices made by all during the war.
During Cameron’s visit to Vung Tau, he discovered more than just an expat Aussie Rules football club. This was a team that not only played football, provided a social outlet to expats but, more importantly, recognised the sacrifices of the Australians, New Zealanders and all Vietnamese. This recognition also provided an opportunity for the Vietnam Swans to help give back to the local community. One such charity is a group of orphanages in Vung Tau and nearby Long Hai.
The Vietnam Swans help raise much needed money for the orphanage and now Cameron has, in the past three years, helped raise approximately AUD25,000.
“When I first saw the great work the Swans were doing and I met Ms My Huong who helps run the orphanages, I felt compelled to help. I realised that even a small amount of money can go such a long way in Vietnam. Even just $50 can feed 130 kids for a day” said Cameron.
Using the resources of his business, Cameron has worked with his customers and suppliers to help raise the money.
“It’s incredible to find out just how generous people are. It can be difficult asking for donations and putting yourself out there but the rewards are incredible”, added Cameron.
Cameron is back in Vung Tau again this year for the ANZAC Friendship Match which is now in its 6th year.
“This year is particularly special for me, not only because it’s the 100 year anniversary of ANZAC Day, but because with the inspiration of My Huong, there are plans to help create a business in Vung Tau. This business will provide a transition for the older kids in the orphanage into gainful and rewarding employment. It’s something My Huong is passionate about and it gives the kids the head start they need.” said Cameron.
Cameron would like to thank all those who have been so kind with their donations.
“Donating money not only helps these kids but also the people who look after them. The bonus is the feeling you get yourself during the process of donating and raising money that you have become the better version of yourself that you always wanted to be.”
Cameron would like to thank the many people who help the orphanages in Vung Tau but in particular Ron and Ailsa Vernon whose dedication and inspiration shows no bounds.
For those interested the ANZAC Day football, it will begin at 11.30am on Saturday 25th April at the Lord Mayor’s Oval Vung Tau.
For a video of the Centre for the Social Protection of Children, produced by Steve Drummond on 3 March 2015, click below.
- To view the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent Program from 21 April 2015, titled, “Are you my Mother?”, click here.