AN ORPHAN rescued from the horrors of the Vietnam War is pulling on his running shoes 40 years on to thank the Warwickshire-based international aid agency which saved his life.
Van Lambie-Nairn is preparing to run the London Marathon to raise money for international aid agency Cord.
As a toddler he was one of the 99 orphans waiting for a British Midland plane to pluck him to safety from Vietnam’s capital Saigon on Sunday April 6, 1975.
Too young to be aware, or even remember, the vulnerable youngsters on the flight were among the lucky few to escape the conflict which had divided their homeland.
Red tape and bureaucracy raged between the relief effort and the Vietnamese government, but Project Vietnam Orphan – now known as Cord, which has its headquarters in Leamington – proved a beacon of hope in dark times.
Starting in nearby St Mary’s Church, with the Rev Pat Ashe at the helm, Project Vietnam Orphan pioneered a new way of bringing aid to countries suffering in the grip of war.
Over the last four decades, and renamed Cord, the charity has extended its peacebuilding work to help thousands of people in need not only in Asia, but also in Africa.
Back in 1975 The Daily Mail joined forces with Project Vietnam Orphan and paid for a Boeing 747, complete with doctors and nurses, to make the 18 hour journey to the war-torn country. Horrified at the condition of the children – who were dressed in rags, under-nourished and suffering from dehydration, nurses were on hand to tend to them and take them to their new life in the UK.
Among them was Van Lambie-Nairn, thought to be around 40 – it has always been a family joke that no one really knows his true age. He does not know his birthday, so his family assigned the day of his adoption, April 29, as the day they would celebrate.
Adopted by a loving British family, Van has had to undergo many operations just in order to walk, let alone run.
Now fully restored to health, he acknowledges if he had still been in Vietnam, it would have been unlikely he would have been able to walk by the time he was a teenager.
Van’s adoptive parents adopted another child a few years later – a little girl from Korea – and third English girl was adopted some years later to complete the family.
Van has never forgotten Cord’s part in changing his life, and has now chosen to take on the London Marathon as a way of acknowledging the charity which saved his life, and that of 98 other orphans, on that fateful day in 1975.
To sponsor Van visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/VanLambieNairn. Visit www.cord.org.uk to learn more about Cord’s work.
Babies on board – the 99 rescued orphans aboard the British Midland plane. (s)
Many families suffered unimaginable horrors during the Vietnam War. (s)
Vietnam was divided as the communists in the north fought the USA-backed south. An estimated 2 million civilians lost their lives, and 58,000 American troops were killed. (s)