The Indy travels to Vietnam for humanitarian project 

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Lan Zentil did something a little different for her 50th birthday. 

The Laguna Beach resident invited 15 friends and relatives to help her fundraise for the Children of Vietnam nonprofit organization by building a preschool classroom and water filtration system in Quang Ngai Province, a remote mountainous area in Vietnam. 

The birthday group just returned from their humanitarian trip, where they attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the project. 

Cutline: The group celebrates in Hoi An with the Laguna Beach Independent. From left to right: Michelle Venya, Kristin Bunn, Pilar Pichon, Eunnie Hur, Kathe Madrigal, Shelley Aldrich, Allyson Dowse, Lauren Saylor, Naomi McCullough, Lisa Manton, Tammy Lane, Tasha Zentil, Lan Zentil, Tammy Pham, Tracy Nguyễn, Thu Phan and Thu Tran. Photo/Kristin Bunn

As part of the experience, Zentil, who owns Jadetiger Tea in Laguna Beach, wanted to share her homeland with her friends and the story of her parents’ harrowing escape from Vietnam to Southern California 50 years ago with no money and an uncertain future. 

Zentil’s father, who died this year, took her to Vietnam for the first time when she turned 40. Ten years later, Zentil returned with friends to give back to local families who needed assistance through the Children of Vietnam organization based in North Carolina.

Zentil and friends celebrate the groundbreaking of a new preschool classroom and water filtration system in Quang Ngai Province. Photo/Children of Vietnam

“I saw the perfect opportunity for my dream of giving back to become a reality,” Zentil said. “With the help of my closest friends, we raised the funds to build a new school where the need was the greatest.”

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