Lily and Jimmy Thai both escaped Vietnam when they were young.  For Jimmy, he got out on his 16th attempt. While waiting for his boat to leave, he met Min, an 8 year-old who was illiterate for lack of a teacher and school. Over three nights, Jimmy took a discarded newspaper, and by candlelight, taught Min the alphabet and simple words. However, their lessons ended when the boat arrived. Jimmy vowed that he would return someday to his country and build schools for children like Min. Lily Thai left Vietnam with her family when she was 10 years-old. Like Min, she was illiterate, and when she arrived in America, her thumbprint served as her signature- she could not write her own name.
Years later, Jimmy and Lily founded Build A School Foundation.  Their foundation has since provided funds for the construction of 57 schools in rural areas of Vietnam. The schools are simple, and members of the communities where the schools are located must contribute to their construction- either with funds or with labor. Jimmy said that they typically give only half of what is requested so that the recipients can demonstrate their commitment and ability to sustain a school once it is constructed.  For as little as $7,000, the Build a School Foundation can provide a primary school to communities in need.