To help raise money to buy medical and humanitarian supplies for this visit, Bob and the Cedar Point Foundation are sponsoring the "raffle" of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. This raffle will take place on 1 April, 1997. Join in on the chance to win this great bike and to donate to a worthy cause.
This gallery is dedicated to his efforts to improving the living conditions and general health and well-being of the Bru tribes in and around the area of Khe Sanh.
All the money Bob collects goes directly to assisting the Bru people. Bob can be reached at BobDon911@aol.com using this automatic email form or you can write to him at:
100 Westbanks Court,
Photographs of the Bru People and of Khe Sanh now and "then" are in Bob's Photo Album. Includes new photos of Bob's 1996 trip.
From 1962-1973, hundreds of Bru tribesmen worked for Special Forces along the Laotian border. Many of these men died or were wounded right alongside their American friends.
In 1975, many people fled their country of South Vietnam. For the most part, it was the high-ranking, well-educated, and the sophisticated who ran. They did not have to pay the price of living under a Communist government.
The Bru tribe, our "little people", the guys who worked and risked death with us, are the "stay behinds". They did suffer and still do suffer under the Communists.
For 20 years we wondered "where were the Bru?". Our first excursion in 1992 was fraught with travel restrictions, restricted areas, deplorable lines of communications, detainment and finally failure. We were only 8km from the area we suspected the Bru had been resettled in. In 1994 we returned, travel restrictions had been eased, lines of communications were in much better shape, and finally we arrived in the Khe Sanh area. A stupendous journey and jubilant reunion were mired with malnutrition, disease, and a continuous struggle to live.
The children of these brave fighters are now trying to survive under Communist rule which does little to support them. The Bru are engaged in a battle of fighting off malnutrition, disease, and trying to cope with the ever encroaching Vietnamese population. Unexploded ordinance is also a major problem. Friends of the Bru tribesmen, with their generous donations have been able to supply vitamins, clothing, potable water wells, and medical support to several villages.
The Bru tribe belong to the Mon-Khmer language group of montagnards who inhabit the mountain areas of Indochina. The average Bru family has about 7 members and they live in a house constructed of wood, bamboo, and thatch. Many of the Bru complained of worms and diarrhea. Malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, TB, and infections were common. There was much evidence of nutritional diseases along with a high infant mortality rate. For every 10 babies born, 7 will die during the first year. The babies are not usually named until age 2 1/2 or 3 because so many die during the first few years of life. A member of the community is elected to oversee the health and welfare of the people. These people have no training in first-aid procedures and there are no other paramedical personnel in the area. The nearest hospital is located in the town of Khe Sanh. However most Bru will not go to the hospital on their own due to the distrust of the Vietnamese and a lack of money to pay for treatment and the medicines that are prescribed.
The Bru diet is mostly rice. Regular grain rice is grown in extremely small rice paddies along with sticky rice which is grown on the hillsides. The Bru either grow their crops using cultivated fields or by a slash and burn technique on the surrounding hillsides. Coffee is the principle cash crop. However the government doesn't pay very much for it. Buyers go from house to house paying 8,000 dong ($0.80 USD) for 1 kilo of dried beans. The average family sells 200-300 kilos a year ($160-$240). Pepper is also grown and sold. Soap is non-existent in the communities as there is not enough funds to buy any. Clothes are washed without any type of laundry soap.