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Nhung Tran-Davies, third from left in back row, has been back to Vietnam twice to see the programs she funds in action.

The donor: Nhung Tran-Davies

The gift: Creating the Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation

The reason: To fund educational programs in Vietnam

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When Nhung Tran-Davies and her family fled Vietnam in the late 1970s, they ended up in a refugee camp in Malaysia. Only one country would sponsor them: Canada.

"My mother was a widow with six children; no other country wanted us," recalled Dr. Tran-Davies, who is now a family doctor in Edmonton. When the family arrived in Canada in 1979, thanks to local sponsors, "it left a personal mark on my heart."

As she built her career, Dr. Tran-Davies began getting involved with various local charities, attending fundraising events and donating money. Then one day, her mother suggested she do something for her former homeland. "She said there wasn't one charity in Edmonton devoted to Vietnam," Dr. Tran-Davies said.

That led to the creation of the Children of Vietnam Benevolent Foundation in 2013. The foundation funds a variety of educational programs in Vietnam, including scholarships for about 50 children, school supplies and food plans.

It provides bicycles, wheelchairs and even hearing aids to some students. Dr. Tran-Davies has raised about $70,000 so far, and she has been back to Vietnam twice to see the programs in action.

Dr. Tran-Davies said she remains grateful to Canada, and one reason for setting up the foundation was that she wanted to "honour the kindness shown to me by Canadians."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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