NETWORK OF ENTERTAINING ASIAN AMERICAN TALENT
A Vietnamese war child who was adopted by a British family forty years ago has sold all of her possessions including a £500,000 home and sports car – to fund an orphanage in her home country.
Suzanne Hook, 42, was one of the first ‘air babies’ rescued during the Vietnam War after her desperate mother dumped her under a bush when she was born in 1969.
She was adopted by a British family aged three and used her golden opportunity for a better life to become an extremely successful business woman.
Suzanne, whose birth name was Thi Hien, has now sold her £500,000 home in Buckinghamshire, her Mercedes sports car and an enviable shoe collection.
She has also sold off all of her clothes and furniture to achieve her dream of setting up an orphanage for abandoned children in Vietnam.
Suzanne, who is abandoning her English life to run the Allambie Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, says ‘I’m practically selling everything. My whole life is up for sale.’
‘I’ve had a comfortable adult life and now I’m giving it all up to live in Vietnam which will be the opposite.’
A picture of Suzanne taken at the Vietnamese orphanage where she spent the first few years of her life, and one of Nhu – one of the orphans that Suzanne aims to help with the money raised from her ‘life sale’
‘I’m leaving my friends and whole way of life to take on between eight and 10 children for the rest of my life. It is important to get a chance to better themselves.’
‘My life here has gone – it will be out in Vietnam with the children.’
‘I want to give them a future and educate them at a level to get them to university or a job and a home so they can stand on their own two feet.’
‘But also make them feel wanted, needed and loved. This is something I never felt when I was a child and it is important they have that.’
Suzanne, who is the daughter of a Vietnamese woman and black American soldier, was born at the height of the brutal conflict which ravaged her homeland.
She was taken to an orphanage in 1969 suffering from malnutrition and was too weak to move when she was spotted by British nurses.
The nurses paved the way for Suzanne to be one of first ‘air babies’ rescued from the war in 1972 with the promise of a better life.
Her arrival at Gatwick Airport at the age of three made national news and she was adopted by a Christian Evangelical family in Hayes, Middlesex.
Suzanne left home when she was 18 and went to catering school before working as a head chef in restaurants and cruise liners for 13 years.
Since 2002 she has built up a successful beauty firm called Couture Nail Service, in Beaconsfield, Bucks, which has allowed her to plough money into the orphanage.
When she visited Vietnam during a career break in 2007 she went on a teaching course and tracked she tracked down her old orphanage.
Inspired by what she found Suzanne returned home and secured funding to open her own orphanage for five girls and four boys all aged between six and 16 years old.
Allambie Orphanage is due to open in November and is named after the home which cared for Suzanne after she was abandoned by her mum.
Suzanne hopes that selling her Western possessions will pay the orphange’s £950 a month running costs until she attracts suitable families to sponsor the children.
To make a donation to the orphanage log on to http://www.allambie.co.uk