Huanvy Phan’s Viet House Foundation

Makoto Hunter, Copy Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Senior Huanvy Phan will be honored with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ “Outstanding Leadership in Philanthropy” Award at the Sheraton Hotel for her work as the head of the Viet HouseFoundation on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

The Viet House Foundation is a charity organization dedicated to constructing more stable houses and shelters for families in Vietnam.

Phan started the organization in late 2014, launching the organization proper on Sunday, Nov. 30. Since then, the Viet House Foundation has funded and built new homes for three different families in Vietnam and is almost finished fundraising for a fourth house.

“I spend a lot of my time talking about issues about privilege and the underprivileged and how I see it’s a really big problem that there are people who have so much less privilege than others in the world,” Phan said. “I talk about this a lot, and my parents got sick of it, and one day they jokingly said, ‘Why don’t you just do something about it,’ and because I’m a really competitive person, I basically did do something about it.”

Phan credits her parents with giving her both the idea to start a charity and make an impact as well as the inspiration to focus the charity’s efforts on aiding people in need in Vietnam.

“I knew I wanted it to be in Vietnam because that’s where my parents are from and where my culture is from. My dad was talking about how there are a lot of people in unstable homes – not even real shelters – and how it’s a really big problem in rural areas in Vietnam,” Phan said.

Although Vietnam has faced significant economic improvements since the end of the Vietnam War, there continues to be a disparity between the living conditions of those in urban Vietnam and those in Rural Vietnam. Vietnam News reported on Saturday, Oct. 3 that the average rural income was 79% of urban incomes in 2014. Furthermore, “poverty remains widespread and overwhelmingly found in rural areas,” (Huong Thu Le & Alison L. Booth, 2010).

“It only costs about $3000.00 to build a basic house in Vietnam, but this amount is impossible to reach for many,” the Viet House Foundation wrote.

The Viet House Foundation’s mission is to raise money for the purpose of constructing basic houses for those who cannot afford it. 100% of funds donated to the Viet House Foundation go towards the construction. Any other administrative or travel costs are paid for by Phan and her family.

“My dad knew this guy who worked in Vietnam, [and] they knew how to work with the government. I started working with that family friend, and now he manages all the parts in Vietnam, like the paperwork and the government, and he narrows down all the applicants to the last two or three,” Phan said. “I handle everything in the USA, like the fundraising and publicity, and picking the final person who gets the house.”

Those in need of the construction of a basic house can apply to the Viet House Foundation for one. The final decision is made based on the circumstances surrounding the applicant’s need and the urgency of that need.

“We are almost done raising money for the fourth house. We’re starting to get the applications in,” Phan said.

Recently, Phan was nominated for the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ “Outstanding Leadership in Philanthropy” Award. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) regularly honors individuals and corporations for philanthropy, professional fundraising, and volunteer fundraising with the intent of honoring outstanding achievement.

“I was nominated by a family friend. Usually this award goes out to very big name companies that raise millions of dollars for charity, but they do have another one for students, and I had the honor of being selected,” Phan said.

Ultimately, though, to Phan the Viet House Foundation is not about any kind of award, but about trying to make a positive impact in the world.

“Vietnam is a big part of who I am. I’ve always been privileged enough to have food, shelter, and money, but I also feel bad for people who don’t have that privilege. I want to alleviate that imbalance,” Phan said.

After the necessary money has been raised, the recipient selected, the paperwork completed, and the house built, Phan goes to Vietnam to transfer ownership of the home to the recipient. For Phan, the emotions such an experience brings about are difficult to describe.

“It’s always really hard to put the emotions that come with this project into words. It’s all very surreal.

When I’m standing in Vietnam in this huge ceremony that they’re throwing, it feels surreal that this is something I’ve been able to accomplish three times already,” Phan said. “But it’s absolutely gratifying.

I feel a sense of fulfillment. As a 16 year old it’s really hard to find ways to make an impact in our society, but I’ve found a way to do that.”

The Viet House Foundation raises all of its funds through voluntary donations by anyone interested in doing so, and it thus depends on both publicity and generosity to function.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of compassionate people out there. Sometimes it just takes a little action to get that compassion and generosity out of them. There are a lot of people willing to give. They just don’t have many opportunities to express it in their day to day lives,” Phan said.

The Viet House Foundation is in the process of raising money for the construction of its fourth house and has nearly raised all the necessary funds.

“[Phan’s] goal is to build ten houses before she finishes college,” the Viet House Foundation writes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email