Love Across the Ocean (LATO) was founded in 1997 by Leyna Nguyen, a weeknight anchor for Newscentral, (KCBS & KCAL-TV) in Los Angeles.
Born in Dong Ha, Vietnam, Nguyen immigrated to America with her family in 1975 where she grew up in Minnesota. As President of LATO, she oversees fundraising and operations for the organization.
She recently answered a few questions for foamcage.com:
Tell us about LATO.
LATO started out as a small circle of family and friends pooling money to help the needy in rural areas of Vietnam. It has grown into a bigger non-profit organization with support from all over the world. LATO was created to build or renovate schools in Vietnam, but we quickly discovered there were more immediate needs. LATO provides emergency food and medicines to rural areas of Vietnam. We also coordinate scholarships for exceptional students from poor families, and match children with sponsors.
What inspired you to found LATO?
I visited a schoolhouse in my birthplace of Dong Ha Vietnam in which children were using a field behind the school as a bathroom. It broke my heart, showed me how fortunate I am, and made me want to do something to give back.
What are some current projects LATO is working on?
Right now we’re collecting medicine samples to bring back to VN. Simple everyday items like asiprin are something many villagers in VN have no access to, have never taken or even heard of. We’re also very excited about our new “Meaningful gifts” program in which farm animals are given to families (or shared by families) to help them become self-reliant.
Who are some of the key contributors at LATO?
No corporate sponsors, no grants. Funded 100% by private donors. We actually have a lot of supporters who found us thru Facebook! We’ve had a lot of young people across the country organize small fundraisers for LATO, which is encouraging as it also fullfills my wish to get today’s youth interested in philanthropy.
How can people donate or volunteer to help?
You can find out more about Love Across the Ocean (LATO) at loveacrosstheocean.org. Donations can be made online or mailed to us at PO Box 2923 Hollywood,CA 90078. We seldom hold fundraisers so there’s not a lot of need for volunteers…unless people are willing to travel to VN to help with our projects.