Bronwyn fights for Vietnamese
A MACLEAN woman's desire to help poor people in Vietnam may have put her on a collision course with Australian golfing icon Greg Norman.
After 20 years living in Maclean, Bronwyn Finlayson began a love affair with Vietnam when she did eight weeks of volunteer work with Global Volunteers Network a little more than a year ago.
The 62-year-old fell in love with the country so much that in August last year she packed up her life in Australia to go to the province of Da Nang in the middle of Vietnam.
Ms Finlayson said her turning point came when she saw a young boy from Da Nang sitting in the dirt outside the Norman Estate "trying to get a few dong (Vietnamese currency) for his evening meal".
"The estate had Greg Norman's name and face all over it," Ms Finlayson said.
"It was another of those estates for the rich and the greedy."
Ms Finlayson said rich foreigners had set up many of these estates on the beautiful beaches of Da Nang, fencing off poor people from access to their beaches.
"I was embarrassed and ashamed to be Australian and angry and sad to see rich people taking over these beaches and poor people getting nothing."
In her fury, Ms Finlayson dashed off a letter to Greg Norman but thought better of sending it. Instead she decided a better plan would be to teach the Vietnamese how to get money from their rich invaders.
"I have begun a project called Poverty Free Da Nang," she said.
"I am in the process of purchasing a small coffee shop there to house this project and have a group of about 30 enthusiastic Vietnamese young people who are a part of this project.
"We are already supporting a number of small fledging businesses, hoping to help them get off the ground and begin to bring in a bit of an income for the poor."
She hopes to attract Australians to Vietnam to help the locals and learn about their culture.
She has established a website, http://www.offthebeatentrackvn.com, where potential visitors can discover what is available.