After each meeting with Tim’s benefactors, thousands of confusing feelings flood into my heart, it’s impossible for me to bury them to be calm and to write my thanks and impressions to such generous hearts beyond that I can expect.
This year in Montreal, there are two meetings with Tim, one on October 23th with her friends and acquaintances for ten years at Phuong Thao restaurant, the other organized by Mr. Jean-Pierre Desrosiers with his compatriots on October 25th at Théâtre Paradoxe.
And every time I meet new benefactors, I think of the words “gratitude” and “grace” that intertwine intimately. Today, during these minutes of meeting, they skim like the sea moss of the ebb and flow of the waves towards the infinite eternity.
Among thousands of hooks, there is a chain linking Kim Thuy to Thi Be, from Thi Be to Jean-Pierre Desrosiers, from Jean-Pierre Desrosiers via Sylvie Coutu, to Céline Bonnier… and so on that my short memory can not remember.
Last year, at a fundraising event for Maison Chance organized by Madame Thi Bé, Tim was placed next to Mr. Jean-Pierre Desrosiers who was sympathetic to her. “I intend to retire, say goodbye to the fundraising events, but because of you and the poor in Vietnam I will do it one last time”.
Last April, he went to visit Tim’s construction site, sitting in a bumpy bus where there was not even enough space for his bent legs, during six hours from Saigon to Ban Me Thuot.
And on Thursday, October 25th, he organized a fundraising event for Maison Chance at Théâtre Paradoxe, Verdun.
Just arrived at the Theater, I was blown away because of the “splendid, vast and high hall” which in reality was only an old cathedral sold, transformed into a reception room by the new owner.
And the next surprise was the organization with fifty volunteers in uniform of Maison Chance, each one at his/her work, reception, clerks at the counter of gifts put up for auction, interview, photography … photographer Đăng Khoa was also there, at random, during his adventure in Montreal.
At 6 pm, the feast began, without dancing or sitting, only a very small and light cocktail. After greetings from Mr. Jean-Pierre Desrosiers, Tim continued with the presentations of Maison Chance! As usual, the listeners seem mesmerized by the fairy’s magical story of encountering unfortunate orphans by the side of the road, bringing them home, feeding them and staying in Viet Nam for 25 years. From one child to five, seven, ten, then one hundred children, then from one school to two, in Saigon and now in Dak Nong province, she continued to care for the handicapped, the rural poor children. These children who did not even know what a faucet and do not understand why the water flows from the wall, what a toilet bowl, after the needs, they flushed and washed their hands there… because there is water.
Although Tim has told this story many times, I still got emotional and did not feel the length of the speech. I thought of Mother Teresa, she stayed in India to hold the dying in her arms, of Sister Emmanuelle, over 60 years old she left comfort and retirement in France to share her life with the poor and she joined a group of Cairo ragpickers, living their life in the middle of garbage. She can not turn away from the hungry, illiterate, and she asked her superior for permission to live in a tent of a poor and numerous family, to educate her children.
Then came the traditional Khmer dance presented by the artist Ravy Por, whose clothes took him an hour for a performance of 5 minutes.
The parade of the graceful supermodels in the “áo dài” distinguished, in the end, three “graceful” characters in traditional clothes greeted the guests, an opportunity to laugh out loud because these models are not at all proportional neither in age nor in silhouette with their “áo dài”! These are Mr. Jean-Pierre, Felix 12 years old and Cedrix 8 years old.
The parade was followed by a “screaming” auction run by the artist Armando Betti (in addition to the silent auctions, gifts of benefactors and those of Mr. Jean-Pierre brought back from his trip to Asia). Frankly, I could not catch either the rising bids or prizes because Mr Betti was speaking so fast. The highest price of this auction was the cocktail with the famous writer Kim Thuy in Montreal, whose starting price is $1500 up to $@7000, the highest bid proposed by Mr. Christian Leduc, Vice President of Cirque Éloize.
And the last price was a stay of a week lodged by Maison Chance… in Dak Nong! The starting price was $1500, Mr. Jean-Pierre has mentioned a 6-hour legged trip from Saigon to Dak Nong, but it seemed that the public was not very inclined, so a Maison Chance family reacted. Cédrix, the son of Minh – the treasurer, proposed from $1500 to $3000 offered by his father; that’s what caused the general laughter! A promise for Dak Nong, because for 10 years any member of Minh’s family has not returned to visit the Maison Chance yet!!
Late at night, guests came out almost, the performance of the Québec Laurent Paquin and Simon Boudreault finished the dinner at 21 o’clock.
Honoring Jean-Pierre Desrosiers was the “last minute surprise.” Since this was his last fundraising event, Céline Bonnier represented the organizations that he had helped in the past few years to take a speech.
The speech of Cecile Bonnier still resonates in my heart. I could not hold my tears, and now when I am translating this speech, I remember the hundreds of lights lit yesterday to thank Mr. Jean-Pierre Desrosiers!
Thanks for his kindness!
On the way back, my heart always remained with the volunteers, Miss Sylvie, Mr. Minh, and Ngu who stayed to clean, and carried cartons of water to the car. I will not be able to forget an anonymous kindness presented by my friend: “I live at this address, can you get money for Tim”, the invited people who could not participate in the event have come to the house to give money “Sorry I can not go.”, the touching letters by those who could not come to see Tim, and the little words of the people who has helped Tim since the first day “when Tim is here, do not hesitate to tell us!” Back home, after a short rest, Tim left the next morning at 4 am to continue on the road of kindness!
Tribute to Jean-Pierre
Jean-Pierre Desrosiers …
Philanthropy is an act of generosity towards the others. It is a support for kindness. It’s a kind gesture. Kindness is a word that is not found in the top ten of fashionable terms. What a pity!
Because kindness is to make good things, I propose tonight that we are here to put it on the map by starting to celebrate it. But you, Jean-Pierre, I know that you believe in that and you have celebrated kindness a lot. Today is a colossally important day, since we are at your last benefit evening (supposedly).
For fifteen years, you have been kind to help so many cultural and social organizations. There are a lot of people for whom you have made the difference. And I am on their behalf tonight, of all those people who need, who want, to say thank you for your openness, your curiosity, your support, your generosity which convinced us every time we were by your side that we would be able to do.
Thank you for having accompanied, defended, fought for organizations which participated in carrying out our fragile dreams, the dreams thrown into the universe that needed strong and immense support.
Thank you for putting these dreams on the screen of reality by retyping thousands of emails that you sent again and again to convince, to achieve, to provoke the responsibility of each, the generosity necessary to realize these dreams.
Thank you for urging us so many times in your conversations to “buy me a table for such… it’s important”, or “buy me a couple of tickets, you can not refuse me” … Thank you for having awakened thousands of consciousness to the differences that we could do for a good cause.
For fifteen years, you have communicated the idea that when we speak and we train, when we put a grain of hope each time, we will succeed. You have often succeeded, very often, Jean-Pierre.
However, we understand that there must be a good lever, I would say, a good lever to lift a charitable organization. You have given light, brought fire to many people. You have restarted the engine, repeatedly raised the sleeves and you have given gas, you have changed the wheels, you have put oil in the engine of organisms that need. As the aeronautics taught us that to take off, it took fuel ; philanthropy is beautiful, but it’s a very concrete job. Then if we do not really put both hands in, the charity will not move forward, and we will not go further, and the trip will not be interesting.
Thank you for having propelled so many projects forward or up. Thank you for your thousands of pats on the shoulder which warmed our heart, which restarted our engines.
Thank you for having allowed so much hope, Jean-Pierre, to so many people who turned to the quiet force, to your smile which did not worry anyone or which worried those who thought they could refuse you.
We just do not believe that tonight you drop your soft boxer gloves, your mechanic gloves that did the job, and the shoes of the great walker at the front lines.
But ok, we will believe it… And tonight, we are here for the great cause of Maison Chance, but we are here also to accompany you one last time.
Know that you have led other great walkers following you and that your example works and breeds little ones! Know that your footsteps in philanthropy have marked the ground, and we will always remember! Know that there are much more charity flying in the sky tonight thanks to you! And know that they turn all their light to greet you with gratitude!
(We turn on cell phones and dim the general lights.)
Text by Oanh Nguyen
Translate: Thanh Thuy & Long Hai