History Of Asia Connection Inc.

         Main Ward, Minh Quy Hospital, Kontum
                           Viet Nam c. 1974


Asia Connection Inc. was formed by a group of volunteers who had worked at Minh Quy Hospital, an institution serving the civilian population of the Central Highlands of Viet Nam during the war years.

Situated in Kontum Province, Minh Quy was founded by the late Dr. Pat Smith of Seattle, Washington. Her concern for the poor of the Highlands grew out of a year she spent volunteering at the Catholic leprosarium near Kontum. With support from the Catholic Church and sympathizers in Washington State, and with land donated by local villagers, Dr. Smith (Ya Tih, as she was known locally) opened Minh Quy Hospital in 1959.

 Dr. Pat Smith, late founder of Minh Quy Hospital,
Kontum Viet Nam c.1974

        Clinic at Minh Quy Hospital, Kontum,
                       Viet Nam c.1973

The majority of Minh Quy's patients belonged to the ethnic minorities commonly referred to as “Montagnards”; however, no patient of any ethnicity was ever turned away. Over the years thousands of people were treated. The brightest of the patients along with a group of sisters from the local convent were recruited to get on-the-job training and become full time staff members, providing sophisticated care despite a lack of formal education.

        Montagnard and Western Staff at Minh Quy

           Clinic at Minh Quy Hospital, Kontum, 
                            Viet Nam c.1973

       Ethnic Vietnamese patients at Minh Quy 
            Hospital, Kontum, Viet Nam c.1974

Despite the war, many volunteers were attracted to Minh Quy from America, Europe, and Asia. Ultimately the hospital grew to provide inpatient care to as many as 200 patients daily and outpatient care to another 75-150. Eventually clinics were held in the surrounding villages for innumerable others.

The hospital remained in operation throughout the war years, but in 1975 expatriate staff were forced to leave. Minh Quy's buildings became a military hospital, but several of the local Minh Quy staff continued to provide quality care to local villagers despite financial constraints, lack of outside support, and the turmoil of the post war years. Travel restrictions limited contact between the former expatriate volunteer staff and the former local Minh Quy staff, but volunteers remained in touch and communicated when possible with friends in Kontum.



   Minh Quy Reunion 1995

 In 1995 a number of former Minh Quy volunteers gathered for a reunion on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Bound by a deep respect for the culture of Vietnam's ethnic minorities and by fond memories of Minh Quy, we resolved to  to explore ways of reaching out to help our old friends in the Highlands.


Following the Minh Quy Reunion, an informal group, variously named Friends of Minh Quy, Friends of Kontum and Friends of the Viet Nam Highlands, was able to provide some assistance to our friends in Kontum over the next several years.

In 2001, Bill Rose, highly respected administrator for Minh Quy in the early ‘70s until close to the end of the war, founded Asia Connection Inc. (ACI) as a 501(c)(3) private foundation with the primary purpose of providing humanitarian and developmental aid to projects in and around Kontum Province.


Bill tirelessly dedicated the rest of his life and considerable personal funds to ensure that ACI would continue helping the disadvantaged in the Highlands of Viet Nam as well as other projects in that country. Likewise, under Bill’s leadership, ACI expanded its support to additional programs across the globe, often working with Minh Quy alumni who had relocated their humanitarian endeavors in different countries.

In January of 2013, Bill died, leaving behind an organization that remains dedicated to providing financial assistance for agencies and individuals involved in health and welfare projects as well as for emergency relief in needy parts of the world, with a particular focus on Asia. Bill’s extraordinary example of selfless and quiet dedication inspires and continually reminds us all that it's "better to light a candle than to curse the darkness"*.

*ACI’s motto, suggested by the title of Hilary Smith’s book about Minh Quy Hospital, Lighting Candles, and originally, from an ancient Chinese proverb.


               Healing the Montagnards - Time Magazine, 13 January 1967:  
             Doc Grandma Plots Return to Highlands - Stars and Stripes, 3 May 1972:  
             Dr. Smith provided care, compassion to Vietnam - The Seattle Times, 1 January, 2005: 

          In Tribute to the Founding ACI Board Members:

                                          Bill Rose                  Deceased
                                          Kerry Heubeck        Board Emeritus - Guardian
                                          Hilary Smith             Board Emeritus - Guardian


 Gone but not forgotten... 
Pat Smith,Ya Vincente, Louis Braile, Sister Marie Florence, Sister Marie Madeleine,

Marion Brown, Tom Coles, Dr. George Pradhan, Father Joseph Lien, Bill Rose, Dr. Edric Baker.