From Share the Love

February Sales of Operation Babylift to Support Adoptee DC Wolfe

The Against The Grain family’s first members were not only its founders but also the adoptees featured in the award-winning documentary film Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, directed and produced by our president and co-founder Tammy Nguyen Lee. The poignant film, a 5 year passion project that was completed and released in 2009, follows the personal journeys of the orphans who were were airlifted from war-torn Vietnam to the United States. It was this film that inspired the founding of Against The Grain and our support of poverty-stricken orphanages in Asia.

DC Wolfe
Executive Producers and ATG Co-Founders Tammy Nguyen Lee and George Lee (center) with several of the interviewed adoptees of Operation Babylift. DC Wolfe is pictured far left.

DC Wolfe, an actor and writer, is one of the adoptees who is featured in the film. Although very private by nature, he openly shared his intimate and painful story to help others better understand the unique situation that adoptees face.  He has supported Operation Babylift by attending numerous screenings and even speaking at Asian American Leadership and Educational Conference (AAALEC) panel at Southern Methodist University to discuss the film and his personal story.

The ATG family was saddened to learn that DC is currently battling cancer. In an effort to return the love and support that he has shown for many years in sharing his powerful journey and raising awareness about adoption, Tammy and the ATG Board would like to donate 100% of all proceeds from sales of Operation Babylift DVDs during the entire month of February to help offset DC’s medical costs.

If you would like to show your support, please click here to purchase your own copy of Operation Babylift. As you reflect on the message of love throughout the month of February, we encourage you to share the love and spread the message of hope that is embodied in the film by also considering copies of Operation Babylift for family and friends. We thank you so much for your continued support of our mission and hope that through our programming and community outreach efforts, you are not only enlightened and educated about Asian American culture, arts and issues but also inspired to do your part, in any measure, to make life better for others. #beCAUSE.

Read more Against The Grain posts featuring DC Wolfe and Operation Babylift:

Orphanage Update: Uu Dam’s Harvest Moon Festival Celebration

Uu Dam1 Uu Dam2 Uu Dam3 Uu Dam4On September 8th, children at Uu Dam, one of our supported orphanages in Vietnam, celebrated “Trung Thu Cho Em” or the “Children’s Harvest Moon Festival” in their play yard.  According to orphanage director PT, it was “very exciting, vibrant and warm with love.” During the happy occasion, the young orphans played and socialized with children from neighboring communities. Read more

There’s No Place Like Home…or Vietnam Culture Camp

by Aivy Nguyen (ATG Social Media Chair)

There’s a phrase that goes, “Home is where the heart is.” For many of the teenagers I worked with these past few weekends, home is in the form of Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnam Culture Camp.

After a 4-year hiatus as a camp counselor for Vietnam Culture Camp, I was invited to come back as a presenter by Catalyst Foundation founder, Caroline Nguyen Ticarro-Parker. The ask for this round of camp was to work with the teen groups and create a media project that portrays their thoughts and feelings on what Vietnam Culture Camp means to them.

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The answers were heartwarming, funny, and surprisingly insightful and full of honesty. And at the end of the weekend, each teen group had worked together to pull together footage and photos for a :30 second media spot to show what camp meant to them as a group.

Working with the teens for the Midwest and East coast camps was quite the 180 from the times inwhich I were I counselor. Instead of bracing each day for piggy back rides, boundless amounts of energy and requests for snacks, I had to switch gears to get the campers to talk about more introspective topics such being stereotyped and misunderstood not just as an Asian, but as a Vietnamese adoptee as well.


The most surprising realization that came from this camp was not from just the weekend, but to find that even after many years of not attending, every camper I was a counselor for still remembered who I was. And every counselor they had been with previously. Vietnam culture camp is not merely just a place to swim, eat and play with friends all weekend, but it has become a place in which they have built a bond with all of us who have been a part of it. A place in which people understand each other. A place where they are not judged. A place in which we are all family.


Planting Hope and Magical Outcomes will Harvest



I was born in a remote countryside and grew up in perpetual hardship. The images of the tattered thatched roof and the people’s suffering lives in poverty have become part of my childhood memory.  Back then, everyday, we used studying as a means to escape poverty.  I studied to become a middle-school teacher and came to Da Nang to work – This is a fairly young, energetic and vibrant city for me to to excel, so I thought…

During the first few years in my teaching career, I recognized the difference of the living conditions of the children in this city with those in our lives before.  The difference is so great, as one side is the poor country side with the substandard living conditions from more than ten years ago; the other side is the exciting bustling liveliness of a busy, growing city.  Having the spirit of a young teacher, I put all of my passion into my job with the belief that “My students are the young children who have all of the conditions to study.  Thus, they will be able to come to school with a clear mind to receive new knowledge.  They will not worry about a thing.  Nothing will be in their way to stop them from soaking up the magic of education…” Each time having experienced the real life of my students, especially after I personally visited some of the ones from our school, that belief has gradually changed as I lived a little longer in the city.

We sometimes visited the students in the evening, after classes were over.  Perhaps the changing light between day and nightfall has made the places where our students live seem more empty and cold.  One unforgettable evening in February, when it was raining cats and dogs, a few other teachers and I were on the way to visit one of my students.  Holding the address, we confusedly walked back and forth in the small and muddy alley, asking and searching for my student’s home.  Her house was less than 2 km from our school, but it took us almost one hour to find it.  Her father passed away long time ago.  Her mother has had to go far away to earn a living for her family since my student was only 2 years-old.  During the last thirteen years, she was able to see her mother only a few times.  My student has been staying with her maternal grandmother, who is almost 80 years-old, an uncle, his wife, other aunt and their children.  Nine people live in a little house with a dirt floor and a rusty tin roof full of holes that could not prevent the rainwater from dripping through.  At the brightest corner of the house, there is an old wooden table with a 45-watt lamp – perhaps the studying corner for the children. On the wall around that corner, there are many certificates of achievement of the children.  It was not difficult for me to recognize the certificates with my student’s name, because she has continuously thrived as an excellent student during the last nine years.  Everyone in the family greeted us with the simple, but no less sincere, blend with a little concern.  Her grandmother kept crying from the moment we arrived, the type of cries without sound, only tears coming down from her old blurry eyes.  My student kept sitting behind me, even though I tried to hold her hand and pulled her to my side so that she would have more confidence in sitting with us.  I recognized that her hand trembled, her back pulled back as she wanted to shrink.  Perhaps she was not used to receiving visitors like us at her home.

That moment filled me with emotions.  Many similar visits had changed my original perception, as I realized that not all children of the big city can happily go to school.  Their routes to schools still have many barriers because of the lack of the necessities in material, emotional and spiritual support.  Even then, I still maintain my original belief that “It doesn’t matter how difficult it is, nothing will stop the children from understanding.” Therefore, though they don’t have a clear vision of the efforts and related rewards of education, all of my students always promised me that they will study so that their future will have less suffering,… so that one day they can help cure the illness of their mother… or to help their father raise their siblings, etc…All of those dreams and realizations help push the children to want to live and give them the energy to excel.  Their living conditions may be different levels from one another, but their eyes always look forward to the future, and their feet will march forward with strong conviction.

At the beginning of this school year, our school received happy news that those students who have overcome difficulties and achieved strong academic performances that would be given a chance to receive 11 scholarship/grants from the ATG family, comprised of 11 new bicycles.  The ATG group also supported us during the school year of 2012-2013 with 20 scholarship/grants, also new bicycles.  This year, the ATG family again provided us with these meaningful grants to help the children come to school each day so that their family no longer had to worry about finding the means for them to commute to school.  The bicycles, just like wings, will provide a tremendous support for the children to make their routes to school become shorter and further their abilities to advance in their life ahead.  The greatest outcome of this generous action is that it has helped these children to understand that people care about them and are willing to share.  With your support, the children will have a stronger belief in their studying and their daily life.

My dear students — just keep walking forward toward your future ahead.  We need to accept the differences that came to us in the past.  However, the opportunities of the future can be shared with those who value their life and work hard to achieve them.



Pham T. Thuy Loan (Teacher of Nguyen Hue Middle School)

Letter from Uu Dam Orphanage

Dear Aileen–
Has ATG family been doing well? Over here, the children have started school again. Looking at them happy and excited to go back to school makes me remember the time I was going to school very happy. Dearest Aileen, this is the newest member of Uu dam family. He is very lovely. Six days ago, when the whole Uu dam family was resting at lunch, nobody noticed that someone had quietly put this baby in the living room of Uu dam and left. After the lunch, PT went to wake the children up and discovered this baby sound asleep in the living room. At first, PT was scared and thought something bad had happened to him. So we held him and ran to the backroom and discovered he was breathing normally but wasn’t crying at all. He is very lovely and good looking. Look at him, PT could not hold back the tears. Each child is born with a destiny. He is very handsome and good, especially since he has not been crying at all during the last six days. PT guesses he is about two weeks old. He still has his umbilical cord.
In the occasion of the Vu Lan (Vietnamese Mother/Father’s Day), all members of the Uu Dam Family wish ATG a very full and meaningful season.
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