Year Joined MKLM: 2000, 2015
Focus: Youth and Cultural Studies, Education
Project(s): Centro de Orientación y Capacitación de Santa Ana, Creciendo Juntos, (Saint Anne Orientation and Training Center, Growing Together), San Antonio Prison
People Served: Men in prison, youth
Project Goal(s): Provide education and training to improve peoples’ lives
Hiep and his wife, Tawny, were assigned to Bolivia in 2015. At San Antonio Prison in Cochabamba, Hiep has set up a program to teach computer repair skills to the men. With fun and practical learning sessions, he helps them gain confidence. Prison inmates know well the importance of learning some useful skills before they leave prison. Hiep hopes to open up classes in more prisons around Cochabamba.
At the Centro de Orientación y Capacitación de Santa Ana, Creciendo Juntos, after school program, Hiep teaches Math, Science and English to junior high and high school students. He employs educational games to make learning enjoyable rather than work. Hiep wants to attract youth to his tutorial sessions, so they don’t roam the streets with friends after school. Hiep takes every opportunity to help the youth gain confidence and be responsible for their own actions. During breaks he plays soccer, volleyball and other games with them to promote teamwork and build trust.
Regarding his mission path, Hiep states, “God blesses me with everything and gives me much more than I deserve. I want to find God through people I serve. I want to experience God’s love in mission.”
Hiep was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and recently lived in Midway, CA. He has a BSEE degree from California State University Northridge and is a certified court interpreter and English as a Second Language instructor. Hiep worked at 4NextGens, a youth activities program, as a tutor and administrator, and was a senior quality control technical staff member at an electronics company. He supported homeless and single-parent children with school costs in Vietnam, was Secretary of the Los Angeles Archdiocese Vietnamese Community, taught computer operations to Sisters and performed audits at the Vietnamese Sister Support Association. Hiep tutored students in English and Math and prepared them to take the Scholastic Assessment Test. At Our Lady of Peace Parish in North Hills, CA, Hiep was a youth and choir leader.
Hiep served with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam from 2000-2010. In Myanmar, he taught computer usage/repair and English. In Thailand, he assisted at food banks and homeless shelters for Myanmar refugees and other displaced people who were migrating to Northern Thailand. He had a mobile children’s library so they could learn and play. Hiep opened a computer center to teach teachers and train students about computer educational programs. With the internet, Hiep trained priests and seminarians to communicate with the outside world. In Vietnam, he worked at an autistic children’s program. Hiep opened a computer center and taught English at a juvenile delinquent program that helped youth rehabilitate their lives and gain math and occupational skills, such as motorcycle repair and welding. He founded the Street Kids Project that taught and fed lunch to 100 + children. After the Vietnamese government closed the program in 2008, Hiep supported a scholarship program to help underprivileged children in South and North Vietnam with school tuitions and uniforms. The program is still active today.
Hiep shares, “I want to be in mission. Through Maryknoll Lay Missioners, we can promote a closer unity of our day-to-day life with our faith, while cherishing numerous opportunities for fellowship, ongoing faith enrichment and specific apostolic works.”