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Aaron Joel Santos
Orphans of Agent Orange
The Vietnam Friendship Village is an Agent Orange orphanage and care center founded in 1998 by George Mizo, an American veteran of the Vietnam-American War. It houses 120 children in six homes spread across the small, intimate complex. Located just outside of Hanoi, it is a place of both enduring hope and profound sadness.
During the Vietnam War, the US dumped roughly 80 million liters of the defoliant Agent Orange across Vietnam. Now, four decades later, the dioxins continue to effect the lives of thousands across the country. The children in the Friendship Village are all victims of this war, all suffering from the after shocks of the chemical substance.
But what sets the Friendship Village in Hanoi apart from many of the other orphanages and centers that take in children of Agent Orange is the care that it provides. Funds given to the village by benefactors and organizations from across the world give the children there access to food, shelter, schooling and health care. Often these funds far exceed what their families would be able to provide for them back home. So there is hope here. But hope in the most dire of circumstances.
Aaron Joel Santos is a freelance photographer living in Hanoi, Vietnam. His photographs have been published in a number of international magazines and newspapers and shown in galleries in the US, Malaysia and Vietnam.
He enjoys local cuisines, warm and humid temperatures, cheap beer and good people. So Vietnam just kind of fit.
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Many thanks… david alan harvey