“The Freedom Boat Project and Madalenna Lai’s efforts on behalf of Vietnamese immigrants should be recognized and applauded. She has given so much and shared an important message of freedom that speaks to all generations throughout our great country.” - Mayor Tri Ta of Westminster, California
In April of 1975, Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City) was captured by the Viet Cong in what is traditionally considered to be the last battle of the Vietnam War. Families, friends and loved ones were separated (many never to be reunited) as they fled South Vietnam’s new Communist regime in hopes of finding a new and better life. Most of those who chose to leave their homeland had to do so by boarding small overcrowded boats under the threat of unspeakable violence. Once at sea, the hardships most endured were almost inconceivable and included starvation, pirate attacks, sexual assaults, being hopelessly lost, and more. Over one-third of those who left the war-torn shores of South Vietnam were never to be heard from again.
In February of 2001, the Philippine government honored the U.S. Vietnamese community with a gift: a boat used by Vietnamese refugees to escape the communist militia in Phu-Khanh, Nhatrang, Vietnam. This extraordinary vessel (believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States) was dedicated to the Vietnamese Cultural House for preservation and care with this message:
“This is a boat for the refugees, a precious and invaluable treasure the Philippine government presents to the Vietnamese Community overseas, because only the refugees from the Communists could fully understand the value of freedom. . .the ones deserving of this historical treasure. And as part of history, no one has the right to change it.”
Over the past 16 years, Madalenna Lai (host of a popular Vietnamese talk show on DirecTV) has taken on the incredibly challenging task of exhibiting this priceless treasure of the Vietnamese community in 49 of the 50 United States. She has met with 18 governors and countless other dignitaries while reaching out across generations with a message of freedom to thousands of supporters. Ms. Lai’s efforts to share this sacred symbol with people of all nationalities across our great land have come at tremendous personal expense and committed perseverance.
“This boat is a remarkable reminder of struggle and triumph that has deep meaning for people from all cultures around the world.” - Nam Loc Nguyen, Director of Immigration and Refugee Department of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Ret.)
“The Freedom Boat ties our past to the present and gives us all hope for the future. I am proud to support this very worthy project.” - Bishop Dominic Mai Thanh Luong
Now, we are seeking your support. Alaska, The Last Frontier, is the only state remaining to complete the 50 State Freedom Boat Tour and on August 13th, 2016, history will be made as Ms. Lai displays this extraordinary icon at a televised event in Anchorage, AK.
“Just amazing! Seeing this symbol of freedom and perseverance and hearing the story behind it for the first time brought tears to my eyes .” - Van Luc Nguyen, San Diego Vietnamese Community Leader
The transportation, logistics, personnel, and other costs of reaching this monumental goal are very substantial and we need your help. Please give generously to the Vietnamese Cultural House (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN #95-4589185). All donations are 100% tax deductible.