Cộng đồng người Việt hải ngoại /Le Ly (Lay Lee) Hayslip : Author & Philanthropist

Le Ly (Lay Lee) Hayslip : Author & Philanthropist

It is said that in war, heaven and earth change places not once but many times. Le Ly (Lay Lee) Hayslip’s book, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, is the haunting memoir of a girl on the verge of womanhood in a world turned upside down. The youngest of six children in a close nit Buddhist family, Le Ly was twelve years old when the U.S. helicopters landed in Ky La, her tiny village in central Vietnam. As the government and Viet Cong troops fought in and around Ky La, both sides recruited children as spies and saboteurs. Le Ly was one of those children. Before the age of 16, Le Ly had suffered near-starvation, imprisonment, torture, rape, and the deaths of beloved family members. Miraculously, she held fast to her faith in humanity. Twenty years after her escape from Vietnam, Hayslip was drawn inexorably back to the devastated country and the family she left behind.

After returning to Vietnam and witnessing first hand the devastation and poverty created as a result of the war, Le Ly dedicated her life to assisting the poverty stricken people of her motherland. In 1987 she founded the East Meets West Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), which provides the people of Vietnam with much needed aid in the form of medical supplies, funding and building of new health care clinics, orphanages, and hospitals, as well as programs aiding those in need of organ transplants and prosthetic limbs.

After creating and helping build the East Meets West Foundation into the biggest (NGO) humanitarian organization in Vietnam, Le Ly had a new vision. Her vision was motivated by the fact that many children in rural areas were unable to attend school because their parents could not afford to buy books or uniforms, due to their meager earnings working in the rice fields. In addition, the schools located throughout rural areas were, and in many cases still are, inadequate and decaying structures. These unfortunate circumstances being shouldered by the children of rural Vietnam were in effect causing a generation of Vietnamese children to fall through the cracks of an often-neglected educational system. Needless to say, the situation needed to be addressed, thus Le Ly’s new vision of providing much needed assistance to the rural educational system became reality with the creation of a new non-profit (NGO) in 1999 titled Global Village Foundation (GVF).

Global Village Foundation’s mission is cultural preservation and rural development. Our duties include the assistance to rural and poverty stricken areas of Vietnam through the funding and building of schools, village markets, as well as cultural and vocational training centers. These projects, as well as others, are designed to improve the standards of education and overall living conditions throughout impoverished rural villages, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the rich Vietnamese culture.

Le Ly Hayslip’s best-selling books When Heaven and Earth Changed Places and Child of War, Woman of Peace, are currently in use as curriculum at numerous Universities across the country for Asian studies, literature, Woman’s studies, and Vietnam conflict courses. It has been published in 17 different languages throughout the world.

In 1994, Le Ly’s books about her life growing up in war torn Vietnam, were adapted for the silver screen by Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone. The film titled, Heaven and Earth, as well as her books are among the few published sources describing life during the war from the Vietnamese perspective.

Nguyen Huu Vien's synthesis