Year Joined MKLM: 2000
Served: Asia Region from 2001 to 2010
Rejoin MKLM in 2015
Focus: Youth and Cultural studies
Hiep and his wife Tawny were born in Saigon, Vietnam. They were Maryknoll Lay Missioners for ten years from 2000-2010, serving in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Recently, Hiep has been an Administrator for 4NextGens, a non-profit for youth activities, where he tutored high school students in Math, English and prepped them for the SAT. He and Tawny have certifications in TESOL. Hiep was very active during his teenage years with the Boy Scouts of Vietnam. A natural leader, he has always looked for ways to assist youths to live a more meaningful life.
Hiep was also a youth and choir leader for his parish and the LA diocese. The program trained many good kids to be leaders and they continued the tradition to move the trend forward in helping other young Vietnamese who were born in the US. Hiep also help many convents and opened computer classes. Most of his mission work with the Catholic Church in the United States relied on Hiep to assist and train in the areas of computer and information technology. Hiep identified the importance in keeping up with the latest technologies and staying relevant. Hiep is very proud when he is able to help young people in disadvantage situations rise with a sense of self accomplishment.
From 2000 to 2006, he and Tawny assisted with local food banks and homeless shelters to Myanmar refugees and displaced people migrating to Northern Thailand. During that time, they had a mobile library so children could learn and play. Hiep opened a computer center to teach the teachers and train students with various computer educational programs. In 2006, they joined a pioneer group of Maryknoll consisting of MK fathers and brothers, sisters as well as lay missioners from other countries to begin ministries inside Myanmar. From 2006 to 2008, he taught young priests and seminarians on how to communicate with the outside world through controlled internet from the unjust government systems. In 2008, they joined the Vietnam region. From 2008 to 2010, he worked with a center for children with autism in Hanoi. They also opened a computer center in Transition House, a program which was started by MK fathers. In this house, they helped juvenile delinquents rehabilitate their lives and be able to go out in the real world ready to relive their youthful life with occupational skills such as motocycles repair, welding, and computation skills.
In Vietnam he and his wife developed a Street Kids Project from 2003- 2008. Every morning, they taught and fed lunch to 100 + children before they branched out to sell lotery tickets in the afternoon. After the VN government closed the program in 2008, they changed the project to a scholarship program to help poor children in North and South Vietnam with tuitions and uniforms. The program is still active today. Due to financial restructuring, many regions including Vietnam had to close. From 2011 to 2015, Hiep and his wife took furlough. During that time, Hiep and his wife were able to take care of Hiep’s ailing father for his last years who finally returned to God.
They rejoined MKLM in 2015 and were assigned to Bolivia. Hiep has been involved in two ministries. At the San Antonio Prison he has individually set up a program to teach computer repair skills to the men with the direct coordination of the prison authorities. With his fun and practical learning sessions He helped many men gain more confidence. These inmates know that they earn some useful skills before leaving prison. Hiep would gladly accept donation of any good used laptop computers that anyone just upgrade theirs recently and don’t know what to do with the old one(s). This would help Hiep open other classes in more prisons around Cochabamba.
As a math and science tutor at Centro de Orientación y Capacitación de Santa Ana (Creciendo Juntos) after school program, Hiep is using his skills to individually teach the junior high and high school students math, science and English skills. He uses educational games to make learning fun rather than work. He takes every opportunity to help the youths gain more confidence and at the same time be responsible with their own action. During break time he play soccer, volleyball and other educational games with them to promote teamwork and building trust. He hopes to attract the youths to his tutorial sessions rather than spend time with friends roaming the streets unproductively after school. Besides most parents are too busy working or don’t know enough to tutor their children. Hiep believes that education and act of compassion begins at home, He wishes the youths would benefit from his presence. And ultimately, he hopes to be a preventive problem person where the youths trust him enough to share their personal problems at school, at home or simply share their peer pressure. He hopes to resolve problems before it happened.
Of his path to mission, Hiep says, “God blesses me with everything. I feel He gives me much more than I deserve. I want to find God through people I serve. I want to experience His love in mission.”