Dr. Ha Van Vo of the Mercer School of Engineering and the team of Mercer on Mission Vietnam held their first fundraising dinner of the year from 5-7 p.m. on March 20 at the Religious Life Center.
The event has been held twice a year since 2009 with the purpose being to raise funds in order to buy medication, food, clothes and school supplies for the people in Vietnam.
The $5 per person ticket price included a beverage and a plate of Thai food, which was personally cooked by Dr. Vo, who used to work as a chef at a Thai restaurant in his college years.
Students of the Mercer Vietnamese Group as well as students who were part of the program in the past, gave testimonies about their experience with Mercer on Mission.
Approximately 200 people attend the dinner each semester and make significant donations to the cause, helping the program to raise almost $6,000 every year.
Mercer on Mission Vietnam started in 2009 as a three-year grant initiative by former President Bill Clinton. The goal of this global outreach was to help amputees in Vietnam.
The program is preparing for its fourth year of international service to improve the lives of Vietnamese amputees and orphans. The goal of the program is to unite and promote service learning, knowledge exchange, life-giving innovative research and fundraising activities to transform and improve the welfare of those with disabilities.
Through this service learning experience, students and faculty help the Vietnamese people with prosthetic fittings and clinical evaluations.
Dr. Vo designed the Mercer Universal Socket, which is a lower limb prosthetic device that is planned to fit common stumps of amputees. The prosthetic is an efficient, affordable solution for those in developing nations.
The entire manufacturing process is completed by students and faculty every year in preparation for the service trip. Mercer on Mission has successfully delivered 202 prosthetics in Vietnam. According to Dr. Vo, “there are actually people waiting for us and the prosthetics. They know about Mercer on Mission.”
Around 20 students are part of the 2012 Mission Team and according to Dr. Vo, they are possibly going to take two different teams next year giving the increase on the number of applicants.
The trip not only improves the quality of life to those with disabilities in Vietnam, but also provides a life changing experience to students through service learning and global outreach.
The Mercer Vietnamese Group receives support and donations throughout both the spring and fall semesters in preparation for their next trip.
Mercer on Mission Vietnam works all year, not only on the manufacturing of the prosthetics, but also with fundraising activities. Dr. Vo encouraged the student population as well as the faculty and staff to come to next semester’s fundraising dinner in order to help with this cause. “Any kind of donation would be helpful,” said Vo.