Do you have a quote or phrase forever stuck in your head? The one that grips your conscience, even if the words have been stuck on repeat for so long, it can start to have the feeling of being “cliché.” That’s why Giving Back has been a part of me longer than my company- Nine Promotions. Before there was Nine Promotions, there was just a college kid with a job. I was leading an outdoors program for kids through the city of Albuquerque when I first learned to make survival bracelets. Around the same time, my family was also planning to go back to Vietnam to visit family. I felt good about where I was in my life. I felt blessed, so I wanted to give back by making and selling these bracelets to raise money for a Vietnamese orphanage. With the help of my family, we fundraised over $2,000. There are some images that are still burned in my memory from that trip. It was from that experience that I made the promise to myself that when I start my own company, I am going to give back to Vietnam.
I took the intimidating leap to quit a supplier job after three and a half years to start Nine Promotions. Knowing I’d be giving up a steady paycheck, I was happy to fulfill a lifetime goal by owning my own company and keep the promise I made years before. To this day, a portion of Nine Promotions’ earnings continues to go towards Mission Giving Back.
This amount pales in comparison to the support that was given by others as we continue to go back to Vietnam. For the March 2018 trip, we more than surpassed our goal of $2,000 by raising over $5,000! This success was largely due to the help of friends and family. By simply raising the awareness of how Mission Giving Back is helping Vietnam, outside donations were given from all over.
Along with the help of the generous donations, I was also blessed to have so many family members volunteer their time for Mission Giving Back. Before I had even turned two years old, I moved from Vietnam to the United States with my family. Distant relatives remain in Vietnam, and they continue to be a major part of my support system there. Without asking them to, my sisters raised money in the United States and many family members living in Vietnam assisted us throughout Mission Giving Back. None of this would have been possible without their giving hearts.
Raising more than twice the amount of the first trip to Vietnam, we were able to do so much more this time around. We visited three orphanages, a school for the blind, and gave out care packages. Of my support system still living in Vietnam, my sister-in-law was able to talk to the community personally and find which families would benefit the most from the care packages you see in the photo. Aunts, uncles, and even cousins made up the team members wearing “Mission Giving Back” shirts. Serving their own country in a large way, they gave up their time to help us when we handed out care packages and visited orphanages.
Over 120 families received a care package like the ones you see in the photo. Each care package included various food items and was accompanied by a 25 lb. bag of rice and $20. A 20-dollar bill may not seem like much for a whole family, but it’s comparable to more than $100 in Vietnam’s economy. This added money gave each family the independence to spend it in ways they needed most.
Giving these care packages created some of the most impactful interactions with these people. The families were invited to pick up their care package and to sit and enjoy refreshments, which gave us the chance to get to know them better. Getting to love and support Vietnam in person is a huge reason why we choose to personally travel there. The following photos show some of the interactions that took place.
The woman shown in the photo was so thankful for her care package that she struggled to find the words to describe to us how much it was going to help. What she couldn’t express in spoken words, was written all over her face. It touched my sister so much that as the woman left, my sister ran after her to give her a little more money. You know something has affected you to your core when it causes your feet to physically move.
While handing out the care packages, a curious boy saw all the rice we were giving out. In a small t-shirt that hung loosely over his skin-and-bones frame, he asked if he could have a bag of rice. When we told him yes, he excitedly ran to get his brother for help because he was too weak to carry the bag of rice himself. The following photo shows the boy in front as his brother is walking away with the rice. This beautiful child wasn’t drawn to our event because we were giving out free toys or candy, he was compelled by hunger - not just his own hunger, but his family’s hunger.
Going through the orphanages was possibly the most gut-wrenching part of the journey. My head knew I needed to take pictures to raise awareness and show everyone who their donations were going to help. However, my broken heart felt like I was going into a zoo. Many of the children just sit in their cribs all day as time passes, especially the mentally disabled children that require more attention than the staff can give. The following photos show some of the ways we were able to love on these kids and show them that someone cares.
While visiting one of the orphanages, we met a boy with hydrocephalus, shown in the following photo. This disability is so severe, that it can be fatal if left untreated. He hasn’t received any treatment due to lack of medical resources and money. This photo was hard to take, but the harsh reality serves as a reminder for why Nine Promotions strives to give back.
The precious lives contained within these walls thrive on the smallest effort of human interaction. It’s so hard to describe how these kids would “light up” as we picked them up or touched their baby-fat cheeks. The photo shows one of the special needs children that we got to hold. He grips the important phrase on my shirt that grips me every day. It’s reasons like him that motivate me to give my best in Nine Promotions.
The burden of carrying these images burned into my mind are nothing compared to the images burned into the minds of these people. About 80% of humanity struggles to live on less than $10.00/day. Including Vietnam, approximately 17,900,000 orphans are living in orphanages or on the streets, all over the world. Many people want to help but aren’t sure how. Using Nine Promotions and doing these trips are just a small way that I can help bridge that gap.
These pictures are just some examples of how purchases from Nine Promotions and additional donations to Mission Giving Back go to those in need. Whenever a customer needs promotional work, I am happy to do it because the service I provide does more than just make a business profit. The quality of my products is fueled by the assurance that giving my best every day is also giving back to humans in need. To find out more about how you can support Mission Giving Back and stay up-to-date with future efforts for Vietnam, visit www.ninepromos.com/giving-back.
Quinn Bui, born in Vietnam, was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and moved to Fort Collins five years ago. With an entrepreneurial spirit he started Nine Promotions after working for a promotional product supplier for three years. His company is all about giving back. A portion of his earnings are used to buy food, clothing, blankets and medical supplies for orphanages and less fortunate families in third world countries. Quinn enjoys the outdoors, photography and traveling. He hopes that his background can help both distributors and suppliers excel in the industry.