Clinic in Vietnam, organization fund dream of former student

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The Asian Students’ Association, ASA, have been selling everything from ties to mugs to cookies in an effort to gain support for the local non-profit organization known as Peter’s Clinic. These fundraisers were done in honor of Peter Pham, a former active member of ASA, who died in a motorcycle accident before he was able to graduate in 2010.

“It’s a good way to honor a friend’s memory,” said Desiree Gomez, an alumni who works in the St. Edward’s University Bookstore. “He was my first friend and only friend for about the first three months of school. I definitely think he’d be overjoyed that his friends are helping his family and trying to pull everyone else in.” 

Pham studied International Development and was hoping to hold a career as a doctor in Vietnam where he could help to improve the hospital conditions of the country and create a safe place for the sick and orphaned children who live there.

After his death, Pham’s family undertook the responsibility of maintaining his dream. In honor of Pham, they started Peter’s Clinic, a non-profit organization with the goal of raising 1 million dollars for the cause of building hospitals and orphanages in Vietnam. Although many of the members of the ASA were not students at the time of Pham’s death, they all said it was important to keep his dream alive anyway they can.

Junior Lan-Anh Van-Dinh said her sister used to be close friends with Pham his family primarily through their shop in North Austin that sells bubble tea.

“They really wanted to make something positive out of his death,” Van-Dinh said. “We thought it would be great for the ASA to do something and decided we’d do whatever we could to help raise awareness.” 

Van-Dinh also said that, according to Pham’s family, the biggest hurdle for the organization at this point is funding and logistics.

Pham had a knack for pulling people out of themselves and into positions where they could make a difference, said Phillip Leong. 

“Peter and I lived in the Dujarie Casitas and I would always chill with him,” said Leong, a senior. “I thought he was the weirdest guy. When I first met him, he made me go to his room so I could see it. He made it look like the Bat-Cave. It’s awesome to support Peter’s family in trying to accomplish his dream.”

Another former friend of Pham and senior at St. Edward’s, Elizabeth Kaweesa, said that Pham was not only the first person she met, but the first friend she had while studying at the university.

“We both had our first chemistry class together and were passionate about helping those in need,” she said. “I’m really glad that Jessica is taking the reins of ASA and the fact that they’re doing this for him is great.”

Kaweesa and several other members of ASA have expressed feelings to try and visit the site where Peter’s Clinic is currently planning to be build on what will be the first of many prospective hospitals in Than Phu, Vietnam.

“I’m going to Vietnam for sure. It’s something he would have wanted too,” Kaweesa said. “I would love to do it for him and his family and the people in the area.”

The ASA is scheduled to host another fundraiser where they said they will be selling tapioca April 24 to further increase the $300 they have already raised from the organization’s first fundraiser.

Nancy Pham, Pham’s mother, was excited to see so many young people happy to help out in making her son’s dream become a reality.

“I feel very blessed as Peter’s mother. Even with him gone, I see that Peter left behind his dream to other students, and I am so glad that they are connecting with the world, doing good for themselves and for others, and also for their future,” Pham said.

She continued with praise for ASA.

“They are following their hearts, and it makes me very happy. Peter always told me how lucky he felt to be a student at St. Edward’s because of his professors and his friends, and I am so thankful for their hard work,” Pham said.

Peter’s Clinic currently hopes to build a primary healthcare facility that will provide both healthcare and housing for local Vietnamese families and home for disabled and abandoned children in the area.