1980 - 1988: Foundation
BPSOS was founded in 1980 jointly by a group of Vietnamese American academicians in San Diego and a group of Vietnamese boat people in a refugee camp in Thailand to operate voluntary missions, rescuing over 3,300 boat people at sea and protecting their refugee rights in asylum camps.
1988 - 1989: Post Vietnam War -
10 Years Later
More than a decade after the Vietnam War, more people sought ways to escape the Communist regime in search of freedom. According to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, one third of Vietnamese boat people died at sea because of storms, illnesses, food shortages, and killings. Many survivors who reached shores were put into detention centers.
1990 - 1996: Legal Assistance for Boat People Refugees
Rising to the new challenge of saving these last boat people, BPSOS sent lawyers to asylum countries through its Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers (LAVAS) project and successfully advocated for policy changes, which resulted in resettlement of over close to 20,000 former boat people after being involuntarily repatriated to Vietnam.
1997 - 2009: BPSOS Operations & Network Grows
Over the past 12 years BPSOS has grown from a one-staff organization to a national network of branch offices operating in 8 locations in the U.S., as well as 3 locations in Asia: Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
2010 - Present: BPSOS' Future
With a focus on leadership, advocacy, and empowerment, BPSOS is focusing the next decade to develop sustainable civic institutions and the next corps of ethical and effective leaders in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora. In 2010, BPSOS consolidated its international operations into a regional headquarters based in Bangkok, Thailand. Through this office, we established Center for Asylum Protection jointly with a Thai non-profit to defend the refugee rights of asylum seekers, initiated the Civil Society Development Initiative to build capacity for communities in Vietnam, and co-launched the Southeast Asia Freedom of Religion or Belief (SEAFOB) Network.