We here at REI are committed to strategic investment in the lives of people, an investment that will pay off not only for this generation, but also for generations to come. Some organizations focus on meeting immediate needs, largely through relief work. And this is good. When people’s lives have been disrupted through natural disaster, through war, through disease, the need is NOW, not later. Relief work is necessary.
But without a plan to build a country through building their people, the situation largely fails to improve (as in Haiti). Long-term investment in people is also necessary. This is what REI does. Through professional training, we invest in the lives of people who work in strategic sectors of society, looking for substantial improvements over the long term. The two models of helping should complement each other, so that a nation might weather the natural or man-made catastrophes, and go on to grow and to thrive.
So how is REI funded? Most of our funding comes from individuals who share this vision of building, this vision of sustainability and growth. People who take the long view in investing. Much of our funding comes from our volunteers, who have previously gone to Vietnam for a week—or for decades—and who have seen firsthand the impact of this intentional building up of people for the building up of their nation. (See the letter below from Ginny Motsay in order to see her vision of our work.) Many of our medical, business, educational, agricultural and social work volunteers, after returning home, began underwriting the work of REI. (This is in addition to the initials costs of making a trip, because all of our volunteers pay for their own travel, lodging, visa costs—everything.) We are also supported through friends of REI who have never had the opportunity to serve in Vietnam personally, but who also share this vision of ‘building people to build their nation,’ and are willing to make personal financial sacrifices in order to support our work.
We are also funded by a small but growing number of foundations, which have learned about REI and see the strategic impact of what we do. We are thankful for, and wish to honor here, The Degenstein Foundation from Sunbury, PA, The Luzerne Foundation from Luzerne, PA, and the Moody Memorial First United Church from Galveston, TX, each of which has played a major role in providing cutting-edge medical equipment for the training and use of our friends and colleagues in Vietnam.
There are also a handful of medical equipment companies who have made generous donations of their products for the same ends.
You may already be one of the underwriters, one of the financial partners, of REI. If so, thank you! But if not, we would invite you to consider being a tangible part of advancing this work of Building People to Build Nations.
BONUS SECTION: Long-time REI staff member Ginny Motsay recently shared with us her thoughts on why she serves with us. Her letter is below in its entirety.
From my position of seeing and being a part of the work of REI, Inc. both overseas and at the US headquarters, I have a burden on my heart to share about the uniqueness and longevity of what REI does.
I’m not a Director and not in Public Relations – just someone who has taught and lived in Hanoi, Vietnam, and someone who is very thankful for what REI provides to the world. I want to see this great gift to the world continue and grow. That’s also why I have also chosen to invest much of my life with the REI family.
REI volunteers and staff train and equip the trainers, the caregivers, and the national people, and they are very relational. They have many additional good qualities and goals, such as being collaborative and not forcing something not wanted or needed. However, I am focusing now on their work having longevity across future generations.
As REI provides trainers, they have truly captured the meaning of the Chinese Proverb that leader Ho Chi Minh also quoted:
If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.
They have put it in action and it is working. They are “growing people.”
A few of the many results that I have seen are:
• Key medical and business leaders from Vietnam coming to the US to learn and then return to train their own people. Recently, we’ve sponsored ENT surgeons, an oral surgeon, and a company CEO. These men are not keeping their expertise for themselves, but are now training other surgeons or future business leaders in Vietnam. Some learned at places such as Duke University Hospital and the Google corporate headquarters.
• Over 60 Vietnamese social work counselors or para-counselors being trained in the last year by REI volunteers and staff. Many are going back to their countryside areas to coach others as well.
• Vietnamese professionals and students in surgery, nursing, veterinary science, business and English improving or learning new skills. As they continue to succeed and serve others with their expertise, their families, their communities, and their country are improving financially and in terms of medical care.
A higher quality of healthcare for future generations, better education for future generations, and improved business techniques... These all truly help to build a nation.- Ginny Motsay