Most Difficult Part
Tracy and Steve, their family and friends, and other members of their adoption group are committed to extending as much kindness as possible to St. An’s children and staff. They readily admit that it requires passionate dedication. PBT began by recruiting sponsors for all of St. An’s school age children. The Fosters, the PBT Board, and other volunteers take regular working trips to St. An’s to spend time with the children and staff. They stay at the orphanage in dormitories and share meals with the children. Each visit demonstrates PBT's committment to the children and develops the trust, and needed relationships required to truly make a difference in the precious lives of the children.
National Attention Makes a Difference
The nonprofit attracted the attention of NBC Nightly News organization, and the network aired a story June 27, 2011, in their Making a Difference segment, reported by Chris Jansing on site in Vietnam with Tracy. You can view the story online in the NBC archives at http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/43555805#58482146.
Corporate, charitable, and academic sponsors took notice of PBT and began providing resources for St. An’s. TJ MAX, along with many other generous donors helped raise $15,000 for a water filtering and purification system. 3M and others have provided medical and dental supplies. And numerous sponsors of individual children have provided clothing and other supplies necessary to keep the children in school. Knoxville media also have been very supportive; Metro Pulse, Farragut Press, and Channel 10 News have all run stories over the years.
Nurses from the University of San Francisco’s Vietnam Nurse Project return every year with PBT to teach and practice. You can read more about their program at https://www.usfca.edu/news/project-directors-reflection-the-impact-of-the-vietnam-nursing-project-ten-years-later.
Committed to Loving Kindness
Tracy Foster, founder and president of Project Being There, says that it is her experience that no one makes a decision in isolation. She and her husband, Steve, wanted a family and made the decision to adopt from Vietnam. In 2002, Tracy and Steve Foster traveled to Vietnam to adopt their first child, Lydia, a four-month old baby girl, from a government orphanage in Hanoi. They returned in 2006 to Danang to adopt their baby son Noah, and again in 2007 to adopt their youngest son, Aaron, from Viet Tri.
Project Being There was officially incorporated on March 18, 2009, and became a tax-exempt 501(c) (3) non-profit organization on September 19, 2009. They did so with help from SCORE, a national organization that advises small businesses and organizations.
The PBT name was inspired by a quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca who said, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.” One of the biggest lessons they learned in those first few years was that perfection is an illusion and perseverance is essential to real service in the world.
As Tracy joyfully says, “We measure PBT’s progress one small victory, one child, at a time. It is challenging work, but so satisfying to maintain our commitment and gather resources we can channel into healthier and happier lives for St. An’s children. We carry their welfare in our hearts and minds every day, even though they live far, far away. Please join us in our commitment by sponsoring a child or giving a financial donation of any size. And, we cherish your thoughts and prayers for Project Being There.
Join Us in Joy
Tracy and Steve observed that all of the orphanages shared similar facilities―most buildings were old and without heat or air. Resources for maintenance and repair were limited. They witnessed degrees of deficiency among the three orphanages where their own babies had been living. However, they discovered that in any orphanage a trained staff with direct administrative oversight could make a positive impact on the quality of life the children experienced. That was a key insight and helped them recognize the orphanage they wanted to serve.
Longtime St. An’s residents, staff, and PBT’s Vietnamese partners have become the Fosters’ dear friends. Every reunion deepens the connections to the children of St. An’s and the people of Vietnam. The Fosters’ three children enjoy their heritage through Tracy and Steve’s commitment to honoring their native land.
Read the Trip Summaries on this Project Being There website to find out more about life in the orphanage and the many, many ways PBT provides support. Tracy maintains frequent communications through Facebook with the in-country volunteers, the staff of St. An, and some of the older St. An residents, all to provide immediate and ongoing support from PBT.
. . . a charitable organization working to improve the lives of children living at St. An's Orphanage in Nam Dinh Province, Vietnam
The most difficult part of the adoption process, the Fosters say, was seeing the many children who were left behind to continue living in institutional care. The cries of the children left a lasting impression, inspiring the couple to pledge their time and energy to finding ways to serve. Tracy and Steve believed that deepening their service to the orphaned children of Vietnam would help their own children learn about their birth country. The adoption agreement requires that international parents continue to educate their children in Vietnamese culture.
Making the Commitment
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Tracy says she could never have planned the way PBT unfolded. She firmly believes that the universe moved them where they needed to be, and their part of the equation was to recognize the opportunities all along the way.
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Establishing the Non-profit