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Colby College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


This year marked the 55th anniversary of Vietnam’s Agent Orange Disaster. Decades after the end of the war, Vietnamese people are still largely being affected by the remnants of the United States’ Agent Orange herbicide sprays. Dioxin chemical has now been confirmed detrimental to human and environmental well-being, but unfortunately it still remains in high concentrations in certain areas of Vietnam. Dioxin chemical is passed on through genetics to new generations, but one of the leading causes of dioxin-related health defects today are due to environmental residue. In Da Nang, Agent Orange was stored and loaded at the local airbase during the war. As a result, there are still high amounts of dioxin within the soil in the area. A few of the known health effects of dioxin poisoning include birth deformities, paralysis, forms of cancer, skin lesions/rashes, and mental illnesses. All of these conditions inhibit victims of Agent Orange from having a socially “regular” life and puts strain on many families. The Da Nang Association for Victims of Agent Orange dedicates itself to lifting the spirits of those affected by Agent Orange by providing them with a caring, safe space and community. My internship with DAVA has allowed me to see first-hand the effectiveness of initiatives and local centers in Da Nang that aim to help victims assimilate themselves into society and overcome their suffering. I have had the opportunity to spend three weeks with a number of people suffering from various dioxin-related health issues and listen to their personal stories. Working at DAVA, I have also learned about the several ways in which the organization collaborates with the local government and community to reach out to Agent Orange victims in the Da Nang and Quang Nam region.


Arts and Humanities | Asian Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Environmental Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Medicine and Health | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change


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