Sherman Oaks boy raises funds to build school in birthplace of Vietnam

SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Twelve-year-old Nam Harrison like to enjoy his favorite sandwich at the Sherman Oaks branch of Mendocino Farms. The banh mi happens to be named after him.

Nam lives in Sherman Oaks with his parents, and they took a trip two years ago to visit Nam's birthplace. He was adopted at age 1 from a village, which is located outside Hanoi. The poverty there was shocking.

"We take a lot of stuff for granted like houses, water, toilet, even a school," said Nam.

That's when Nam had an idea. Instead of asking for presents for his 10th birthday, he would ask for donations to help build a playground in Vietnam.

"I went to a school that has a giant jungle gym, stuff like that and I just thought to myself one day, does everyone have this? Does everyone have jungle gyms and playgrounds? And the answer is no," he said. "So we should help them get all that, so we can have the same experience and memories."

The founders of Mendocino Farms heard about what Nam and his family were up and decided to get involved. Their chef created a sandwich, where a portion of the proceeds went to Nam's charity.

Almost 30,000 sandwiches were sold and $10,000 was donated. With that money and additional donations, the Nam Harrison School, serving 85 students from first through fifth grade, opened in Nam's birthplace.

"Hi, I'm Nam Harrison. I'm in the mountains of Vietnam, I'm in the Katu village and this is their school," Nam says in a video about the new school.

But Nam and Mendocino Farms weren't done. The school is in need of supplies, food and qualified teachers, so there's a new sandwich called the Nam Schoolhouse Charity Banh Mi that's currently on the menu and has already raised over $4,000.

"Mom maybe we can get them solar power. Mom, maybe we can get them internet. Mom, maybe we can get Google to put a satellite over their village. Mom what if we do this, mom what if we do that. He's like the CEO of this thing. His dreams for these people are big," said Maria Cina-Harrison, Nam's mother.

The Nam Schoolhouse Charity Banh Mi will stay on the menu at all Mendocino farms locations through Dec. 9. For more information on Nam's organization, you can visit www.childrenofvietnam.org.
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