Cong Hung, founder of the Will to Live Center, Hanoi


Before joining the monkhood in Cambodia for a week (more on that in a future blog), I checked Facebook one last time in a Siem Reap ice cream parlor that offers free wi-fi with their green tea iced lattes.  I saw a post in my timeline from Cong Hung, our Local Hero in Hanoi whom I just met (and blogged about a few days ago).  Even though we’ve been emailing for a couple years and GO has been funding his remarkable project for the handicapped for a year, we did not become Facebook friends until the day we met and I joked with him about whether to ‘confirm’ or ‘ignore’ his request to become friends.

Today there was a photo of a face in a coffin posted in his timeline.  It was hard to tell who the face was, but the heading, in Vietnamese, seemed to mention Hung’s name.  Since his name is quite common in Vietnam, and since the Facebook translate software doesn’t seem to work very well for Vietnamese to English, I couldn’t really make out what any of the many comments were saying.  As I continued down the timeline, I saw other posts ending in the 🙁 frown emoticon, and I knew something bad happened to someone.  I searched online through Vietnamese news, and with the help of Google Translate, I was devastated to learn that Cong Hung died 2 days after we met.  The news article says he was traveling with some musicians on business and details of his death remain unclear.  I can’t believe it.  Just a few days ago he was telling me that he wanted to run for political office one day.  He was such a bright light and such an inspiration.  I feel honored to have met him but so terribly to hear of his sudden death.  He and his wife were just telling me their hopes to conceive and have children of their own.

Vietnam has lost a great hero and GO Campaign has lost a valued and trusted partner.  I hope we will be able to fight on in his memory to give opportunity to Vietnam’s many handicapped children.