In early 2019, two US-based NGOs—Agape International Missions (AIM c/o Mr. Richard Botkin and ILazaro Charity (ILazaro c/o Mrs. Hoa Nguyen)—reached out to a group of Southern California-based Vietnamese American mobile healthcare volunteers (c/o Dr. Mai-Khanh Tran) and invited them to collaborate on a Cambodia mobile healthcare mission.
We researched and reviewed the work of the potential hosts:
-AIM’s main work has been to fight human/child trafficking in Cambodia since 2005.
-ILazaro Charity has worked with the Cambodia-based catholic nuns to assist the stateless Vietnamese who live in the floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia since 2016. http://hoibacailazaro.com/index.php/home-test/
Because there is a dire need for Vietnamese speaking healthcare services in Cambodia, and the host organizations are operationally as well as legally capable of hosting the team, the volunteer team decided to collaborate.
Within 4 months, the team mobilized, collected donations, prepared, and successfully carried out the July 2019 Cambodia mobile healthcare mission, the first-ever anchored by a mostly Vietnamese American team.
From July 8-12/2019, the team served 2,000 medical/dental/vision patients, delivered essential provisions to 1,000 families, provided safety structural support to 200 homes, and awarded 200 scholarships.
Throughout the mission, the team members witnessed and were haunted by these stateless people’s hopeless misfortunes—lack of shelter, food, clean water, education, and healthcare. As a result, during a few post-trip meetings, the team passionately, firmly, and pragmatically decided to form its very own non-profit organization to contribute to the care of these forgotten people. The team leadership also hopes to continue to mutually collaborate and support our other partners to deliver maximum effectiveness and benefits to the people we intend to help.
By the end of 2019, International Humanitarian Missions (IHM) was formed as a non-political/non-religious organization. It has a diverse board of 11 directors, including 4 executive officers. IHM filed for the non-profit status with the IRS in early 2020, then the COVID pandemic hit. Our non-profit application review is put on hold. All planned 2020 IHM fundraising events and mobile healthcare missions were canceled.
During this waiting period, IHM continues to plan for its first major Cambodia project—which is the school/water project in Kampong Chhnang province. During this waiting period, IHM also lost one of its brightest beacons of inspiration, Dr. Van-Khanh Le, to cancer in April 2020. Dr. Le and her family members have been staunch supporters of IHM since its formative days. We were and still are devastated by this loss but are more resolved than ever to carry on IHM work in her memory. So to commemorate Dr. Le’s contribution and legacy, IHM’s very first school will be named The Le Van-Khanh School, for her compassion, hope, courage, and perseverance.
With the solid trust and backing of its supporters, IHM will continue to move forward, undeterred, and focused on its mission.
IHM Board of Directors and Executive Officers
1. Mai Khanh Tran, MD, Chair
2. Vinh Nguyen, Entrepreneur, Vice Chair
3. Alexandra Le, Esq, Secretary
4. Ty Tran, Accountant BS, MBA, Treasurer
5. Richard Botkin, Businessman, Author, Former US Marine
6. Vincent Dang, PharmD
7. Chau Nguyen, OD
8. Thai-Van Nguyen, MD
9. Denise Phan, MD
10. Ronald Ress, Esq (Retired), US Navy (Retired)
11. James Tran, MD