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Friendship Force comes closer to funding goals

Chef Chung Tran cooks Vietnamese specialties during Whidbey’s Friendship Force fundraiser at the Basil Café in Bayview. The group is raising money to build a library in Vietnam. - Photo courtesy of Laura Strehlau
Chef Chung Tran cooks Vietnamese specialties during Whidbey’s Friendship Force fundraiser at the Basil Café in Bayview. The group is raising money to build a library in Vietnam.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Laura Strehlau

The Friendship Force raised more than $2,500 to help educate and save people in Vietnam from land mines.

The Whidbey Island group sponsored an evening of Vietnamese cuisine at the Basil Café in Bayview as a fundraiser last week.

Nearly a hundred people gathered for dinner at the restaurant to support the building of the Friendship Force Peace Library in Vietnam.

“Thanks to generous contributions, over $2,500 was raised toward the goal of $18,000 to build the library,” said Laura Strehlau, one of the organizers of the event.

Chef Chung Tran, his wife, mother and wait staff worked overtime to make the benefit happen, she added.

“The cuisine was strictly Vietnamese, and considering the number of times people returned for seconds, it was delicious,” Strehlau said. “The Basil Café usual fare is Pan Asian so this was a real treat to have some authentic Vietnamese cuisine.”

The Friendship Force Peace Library will be built in Axing Commune, Huong Hoa District, Quang Tri Province, an area of the country that still feels the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Nearly one person per week is either maimed or killed by unexploded ordnance and land mines.

The library will serve as a community center, a place to learn to read and write Vietnamese — so people can read what’s written on mines when they find one — and an education center for land mine and ordnance awareness.

The money raised at the dinner fundraiser brought the group another step closer to their goal.

“We are now a quarter of the way towards the goal of building the library which will be dedicated in September 2009,” Strehlau said. “A humanitarian Friendship Force trip is currently being arranged to be in Vietnam at that time.”

Anyone interested in donating, traveling to Vietnam with the Friendship Force or for more information, can call Strehlau at 730-1357.

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