Year Joined MKLM: 2000, 2015
Focus: Education, Pastoral Care
Project(s): Fe y Alegria Virgen del Rosario (FAVR) Technical School, Punata and Rosario village.
People Served: Young adults, underprivileged children
Project Goal(s): Help and serve young adults and children to develop life skills, critical thinking skills and self-esteem.
Working at a technical school, Tawny helps young adults to strive to have a career and to become independent. Tawny teaches cooking classes, where students learn how to cook and prepare healthy dishes using available local ingredients.
Tawny tries to use real world examples to share different ways to navigate domestic problems with these young adults.
In Rosario village near Punata, she started a daycare center where children learn critical thinking skills and develop self-esteem and self-respect. She believes this is vital starting from a very young age. In the evenings, she and her husband work with older children, assisting them with after-school activities.
Tawny is originally from Saigon, Vietnam. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, she settled in the U.S. Five years later, she got married to her husband, Hiep. They didn’t have any children and started to discern how to serve God in different vocations. They joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners in 2000. Tawny had a bachelor of science degree in education from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. Tawny is certified in teaching English as a Second Language. She has extensive knowledge in accounting, bookkeeping and as a financial services agent. She has also owned and managed a furniture store and clothing manufacturing company.
She and her husband helped support homeless families. She supports single-parent homes education assistance programs, tuition and school uniforms. She was a member of the Maryknoll Affiliate Los Angeles Chapter. Tawny belonged to Our Lady of Peace Parish in North Hills, CA. She served on the parish council, in the choir and was involved in many church activities. She was a Eucharistic Youth (EY) leader in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The EY movement is for Catholic children aged 6 to 18. It is similar to the Boy and Girl Scouts but includes catechetical teaching.
Tawny served for 10 years with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. In Thailand, she worked with orphan children with HIV/AIDS and managed development projects, and together with Hiep, ran a mobile library in the mountains of northern Thailand. In Vietnam she gave counseling and job training at “Transition House”, a juvenile delinquent program. In Myanmar and Vietnam, Tawny coordinated computer training programs and taught English to religious men and women.
In her spare time, Tawny enjoys audio books, learning about new cultures, and watching documentary movies about the universe, animals and human behaviors.
Tawny states, “My faith has been strengthened by being in mission with Maryknoll Lay Missioners. One of our missions is to create a more just and compassionate world. I believe every child deserves a good education. When they grow up, they need to be independent to take care of themselves and their family.
After a five-year hiatus to care for Hiep’s father, Tawny and Hiep rejoined MKLM and have been serving as Maryknoll lay missioners in Bolivia since 2015.