By Edna Branthwaite
Frank Fee lives in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, ‘a beautiful region not unlike the Lake District’ on the borders of Laos and Cambodia. Born and raised in Whitehaven Frank started his working life in Egremont at the District Bank. He retired on health grounds as Quality Systems Manager/Auditor for Lawson Mardon (formerly Smith Bros.)
After his retirement he spent the winter months with his sister in Australia but always had a passion for Vietnam. He first visited the country in 2003 and in 2005 started to teach English in two orphanages. He discovered that the children were always tired because they were missing their siesta so he rescheduled the English lessons and incorporated the singing lesson. It all began with Yesterday Once More when he innovatively taught English through singing. He bought CD’s and Play and Learn books which he cut and pasted to make them more understandable and from there things took off. Classes at the orphanages became so successful that he was inundated with people who wanted to learn and was asked to help at many other places.
One day Frank visited the poorest village he had ever seen and the next day returned with fresh bread. He says ‘it was like giving the villagers a feast –and yet it was only bread.’
He arranged a sponsorship for a village girl to learn sewing and tailoring skills at the Sewing School run by nuns in the hope that her family would not only have an income from making and repairing clothes but also that she would be able to pass on her skills. Sponsorships have gradually grown over the years and this year twelve more girls are taking the course.
Frank is involved in a diversity of projects in Vietnam from visiting a Leprosarium where he discovered around one hundred lepers who have no family members to support them. He found that many were clothed in the poorest of clothing and that there was a need for basic foods. When he delivered some good quality jackets and coats to them he says ‘it was like a fashion show as they paraded up and down.’
Other projects provide nappies and medicines for disabled children who are often the victims of ‘Agent Orange.’ ‘Agent Orange’ is the code name for herbicides and defoliants (containing dioxin) that were used by the US military in its herbicidal warfare programme during the 1961-1971 Vietnam War. An estimated 400,000 people were killed and 500,000 children born with birth defects.
Once Frank had re-located to Vietnam he found his niche in life.
If anyone would like to contact Frank you can catch up with him at firstname.lastname@example.org