About this project
THE DOWRY OF THE MEEK is a documentary film which explores the journey of Hoa Stone. Hoa is disabled from the waist down from polio and was part of the United States’ attempt to relocate some of the 70,000 orphans left in Vietnam through Operation: Babylift. He found his calling, after decades of suffering and drug addiction, to return to Vietnam and start a school to educate and train the less fortunate so they might have a chance for a brighter future. The film parallels the healing and history of post-war Vietnam with Hoaʼs personal story of hardship.
The film is in the postproduction phase of development, but we still have some needs to meet before it can be finished. That is why we are turning to the Kickstarter community, our friends, and supporters of this project to help us raise these completion funds. As with any Kickstarter project, we need to raise 100% of our goal to get any of these donations. We feel that the experiences of Hoa Stone and the lives of the handicapped and orphaned of Vietnam should be shared with the world so that we can come together with Hoa to bring healing of a physical and spiritual nature to the forgotten.
How The Money Will Be Used:
-Travel expenses to Vietnam to obtain some necessary remaining footage of Hoa’s School and current situation.
-Editing, editing, and did I mention editing?
-Finalizing some production aspects of the musical composition.
-Licensing fees of the archival footage used in the film.
We have many other good uses to which we can put any donations beyond our goal such as travel expenses to go to Perth, Australia, for interviews with Stone’s adoptive family. Prior to this fundraiser, we had also been granted funds from The Window Ministries and other religious organizations and private donors to begin production. So many have so much invested in this project and we have come too far to stop here. Please help us to complete our film!
Every little bit helps so thank you in advance for your donation and for helping us to spread the word about the needs of the handicapped and orphaned in Vietnam.
This film is being developed to help Hoaʼs organization, A Company of Grace (http://www.companyofgrace.com) and their partner, The Window Ministries, achieve exposure in order to further their projects. These projects involve education and technical training of the disabled, orphaned, and homeless in Vietnam so that they may have a more successful future in a system that normally makes it very difficult for them to lead any type of life of personal productivity.
Hoa’s Full Story:
Nguyên Thái Hóa (pronounced, Win Tie Wa) was born in Vietnam in 1966. He was abandoned by his birth parents and left in the care of the Sancta Maria Orphanage just on the outskirts of Saigon. Polio rendered his legs useless, but he still enjoyed it there with the other children until 1975 when the fall of Saigon was evident, and the United States, in partnership with the Australian government, enacted “Operation: Babylift”. With South Vietnamʼs reluctant agreement, President Gerald Ford announced on April 3rd that Operation: Babylift would fly some of the estimated 70,000 orphans out of Vietnam with $2,000,000 from a special foreign aid childrenʼs fund. Hoa was scheduled to be on one of these transports along with 300 of his friends and “family” from the orphanage. Due to his handicap, Hoa had to be transported via alternate means. To his distress, he missed the plane. What happened next was truly horrifying.
The plane carrying more than 300 children, a C-5a Galaxy, the largest of its kind at the time, experienced an explosion which blew off the rear doors of the giant craft. The plane crashed only 2 miles from the Tan Son Nhut airport, but rescue helicopters were unable to land due to the watery surrounding rice paddies. Survivors, many wounded, and volunteers had to wade through the mud carrying the children to the helicopters. More than half of the of the children and adults aboard did not survive what was later called one of the worst aircraft disasters in history at the time. Almost everyone in the bottom cargo compartment was killed (many of whom were children under the age of 2).
Hoa was put on the next flight to Australia which arrived safely and where the Stone family adopted him. Although Hoa was now in a loving home, the trauma from his childhood and the pain from his legs due to polio began to create disillusionment and frustration for him. Then tragedy struck once again – his adopted brother Philip Stone died due to complications from asthma. The alienation and anger that had been brewing in him for so long boiled over. He made the decision to run away from home.
Life on the streets of Perth, Australia, was difficult. In order to survive, Hoa resorted to selling and using heroin, and struggled with a debilitating addiction. Hopelessness and despair seemed to be the prevailing themes in his life and with no place left to go, Hoa literally called out to God:
“God, If you are real and you really care about me, then, please, you have to help me. If you donʼt, then I will end my own life and see you anyway. Iʼve had enough of this life.”
(Taken from Heart of Stone-my story by Hoa Van Stone)
He decided he would purposefully overdose on heroin by the end of the week unless he saw salvation. Hoaʼs addiction was such that a mere 24 hours without the drug would send him into a crippling withdrawal or possibly death. However, no such withdrawal had come after 2 weeks of abstinence. For Hoa, this was the salvation that he had sought for so long. He made the decision to help others by sharing his experiences with them, and he became a minister.
Hoa Stone is now back in Vietnam. He has started up his own orphanage and is giving back to the country in which he was abandoned. Through all the turmoil, resentment and heartache, he has found peace. Still looking for his biological parents, Hoa continues to make a difference in the lives around him and to bring hope to those left behind. This story and others like it are incredible. What it represents as a whole is so much more. Hoa is not alone.
War and conflict existed for others just as it existed for him, and it still continues today. The victims in these circumstances are still leaving everything behind to adopt a new way of life in the unknown. Through hard work, determination, and faith, they create a new dowry from the ashes of their past. These people are reminders of battles. They hold the line to show us that peace and forgiveness are possible. Having a personal relationship with Hoa that spans at least ten years, I feel that I am the best person to tell his story. My family and myself have both worked with him in his venture to create a place of healing and education in Saigon. (You can see the full-length trailer at http://sundaytown.com/media/dowryofthemeek/sneakpeak/)
The Parties Involved With This Project:
In 1996 Elvis Ripley learned video editing and the use of technology with an artistic touch. After creating national museum motion video art pieces in the late 90’s Elvis found it very easy to transition into traditional video editing and DVD production. Elvis’ knowledge of all aspects of production have kept him in high demand as a problem solver, able to come in, take over and get to the finish line the right way. With the growth of new formats and technologies, high definition, Blu-ray and digital cinema, Elvis’ expertise has become even more necessary. From a musical documentary with Eric Clapton, Vince Gill and Willie Nelson to a permanent installation in the Professional Bowlers Hall of Fame Elvis has done it all. For more information visit elvisripley.com. The most recent project, Biker Fox for which Elvis served as producer and editor was accepted in The 2010 Slamdance Film Festival.
An accomplished composer and musician, Greg’s career began in Orange Countyʼs early punk scene, when he left his classical piano studies at Cal State Long Beach to join punk icons T.S.O.L. Together they made the groundbreaking Beneath The Shadows album, still a highly regarded and influential work. Following his tenure in T.S.O.L., he spent several years as a recording and touring musician working with artists including Bob Dylan, The Church, Berlin and Ian Astbury of The Cult. Greg got his start in film working on the score for cult classic Repo Man, on which he arranged music and played keyboards. Since then, Greg has scored numerous films, including “Bandwagon”, winner of the Maverick Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival 2005, and “Born to Lose”, Doug Cawkerʼs loser epic on Provisional Films. Gregʼs latest score is for the documentary, “Confessions of a Superhero”, directed by Matt Ogens, produced by Morgan Spurlock and released by Arts Alliance / Red Envelope. Greg has scored hundreds of television commercials, and his company, Peligro Music and Sound Design continues to thrive as one of Los Angelesʼ most sought after boutique music houses. As musical director for singer / actress Megan Mullally, Greg has produced three critically acclaimed CDʼs: The Sweetheart Break-In, and Big As A Berry, and their latest Free Again. Their band, Supreme Music Program, continues to perform nationally in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and The Seattle Symphony Hall. Gregʼs latest work, CNN Heroes, can be viewed in rotation on CNN.
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