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Former Vietnamese refugee encourages kindness and generosity toward Afghan refugees

Vanguard Skin Specialists will match donations up to $100,000 during KOAA telethon on Tuesday
Former Vietnamese refugee encourages kindness and generosity toward Afghan refugees
Posted at 3:26 AM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-17 00:46:09-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — On Tuesday, News5 is teaming up with Vanguard Skin Specialists and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains to hold a telethon fundraiser for the resettlement of Afghan refugees in Colorado Springs.

According to Lutheran Family Services, approximately 100 Afghan refugees will be living in Colorado Springs by the end of the year. The goal of the telethon is to raise $100,000 for their resettlement process, and household donations are also welcomed.

Vanguard Skin Specialists will match the monetary donations up to $100,000.

CLICK HERE to donate to the fundraiser.

For one Colorado Springs dermatologist, this telethon hit close to home.

Dr. Vinh Chung of Vanguard Skin Specialists has been practicing in Colorado Springs for more than a decade, specializing on treating skin cancer. He originally came to America as a refugee after fleeing Vietnam. "When Saigon fell in April of 1975, my mother was actually pregnant with me," said Dr. Chung.

Dr. Chung said when he was around three years old, his two parents and eight children fled Vietnam on a boat. "I remember the smell of salt water... After drifting out in the South China Sea for about six days, we were then rescued by World Vision. World Vision is a Christian Humanitarian organization that responded to refugees pouring out into the South China Sea... We were at the brink of death, and so they actually picked us up from sea and brought us to a refugee camp in Singapore where we stayed for about three months," explained Dr. Chung.

After Singapore, Dr. Chung said the family was sponsored by a small Lutheran Church in Arkansas. "Nobody in my family spoke English. We had no friends, no family, no money, no connection here at all. And it was through the generosity and kindness of the American people that I'm able to live the life that I have today... I am a product of the Vietnam War. I am also a product of American generosity and kindness. And so, I speak as a refugee, as a former refugee. I also speak as an American," said Dr. Chung.

I recognize that we live in a time now where it may seem to be very divisive. But how we are responding to Afghan evacuees here in Colorado Springs, we are not making a political statement. We are making a humanitarian statement.

Dr. Chung's parents had 11 children total. "All 11 of their children have gone on to college. Together we have 22 university degrees. We have five masters and six doctorates as well," said Dr. Chung about his siblings.

As Dr. Chung watched the coverage of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, he felt he had to do something to help. "Just saw the chaos that unfolded, it was very personal for me. Because that was the same image that took place in 1975 after the fall of Saigon... We all knew deep down that there were many people who were being left behind," said Dr. Chung.

Dr. Chung believes supporting Afghan refugee families is a way to invest in the future of Colorado Springs. "It is the character of the American people that defines our country... The story of our involvement with Afghanistan has not ended."