The year of 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Vietnam and the U.S.

The last 25 years have witnessed great efforts by many Americans that have  contributed to the development of bilateral ties and later a strategic partnership in mid-2017. Among them is Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau, the Co-founder of the organization PeaceTrees Vietnam.

Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau, the Co-founder of the organization PeaceTrees Vietnam

Brusseau shared that she is the sister of an American soldier who was killed in Vietnam during the war in Vietnam in 1969. It was the most sorrowful period of time that she and her family members had experienced in their lives.

However, she understood that her family’s loss was similar to other losses of so many Vietnamese people whose close relatives had lost their lives because of the war.

That is the reason why Brusseau wanted to come to Vietnam in order to contribute to healing the war wounds.

She had to wait until 1995 when Vietnam and the US normalized relations. During her first visit to the Southeast Asian country, she with her own eyes witnessed consequences left behind from the war. Right after returning home, her mother, her husband and she decided to set up PeaceTrees Vietnam to build up mutual trust and understanding between people of the two countries.

Notably, PeaceTrees Vietnam became the first international non-governmental organization to get the permission to support humanitarian mine action in Vietnam.     

At first, the organization focused on demining work and planting trees right at the clearance sites.

In recent years, PeaceTrees Vietnam has expanded their operation to Quang Binh and Quang Tri provinces, particularly in sponsoring demining activities, raising public awareness of unexploded ordnance (UXO) accidents, and helping develop local economy.

Up to now, PeaceTrees Vietnam has destroyed over 100,000 pieces of UXO, helped more than 86,000 children and adults to identify and avoid UXO, provided financial assistance to 215 UXO victims, and granted 1,600 scholarships to children of UXO victims.

In addition, the organization established a PeaceTrees’ Friendship Village to resettle 100 families, built 15 new kindergartens and two communal houses, opened orchards for children of UXO victims, and assisted hundreds of local women to develop their household economies.

For years, Brusseau has actively and proactively mobilized resources from the U.S. Department of Defense, various foundations, and American veterans who had set foot in Vietnam in order to raise funds for the organization’s rehabilitation efforts in Vietnam.

Notably, Brusseau was presented with the Friendship Order by the State President in August 2019. This award acknowledged her contributions to expanding the friendship and people-to-people relations between Vietnam and the U.S. over the past time.

Brusseau has really been a true friend of Vietnam.

Translated by Van Hieu