Donor tour 2020 fully booked!

Our next tour, taking place in April 2020, visiting several project sites in Vietnam and Lao PDR and touring the amazing nature of both countries, is fully booked already.
Interested in joining our next donor tour in 2021? Send an email to and we will keep you informed!

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order MCNV calender 2020 now

The calender 2020 contains beautiful pictures and an overview of our projects in Lao PDR and Vietnam. Programs for a better health, sufficient and nutritious food and better resilience; all ingredients for a better life.

Order yours by transferring the right amount to IBAN NL07 INGB 0001 70 641, MCNV, Amsterdam with reference ‘calender 2020’.
1 calender = € 13,73; 2 calenders = € 25,50; 3 calenders = €37,45
All prices including shipping costs.

If you order before November 25, the calenders will be sent before the 30th. After that date, your order will be sent within 3 working days after receipt of the payment.

By buying a calender you are supporting our work in Vietnam and Lao PDR!

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MCNV paves the way for Occupational Therapy in Vietnam

In order to support millions of patients or clients in their social integration and rehabilitation, the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV), for the last 3 years, has been working relentlessly to nurture manpower in Occupational Therapy, a new profession in Vietnam. 

While Physical Therapy helps improve patients/clients’ physical functions, Occupational Therapy (OT) helps improve their independence in daily routine and work, taking account of each individual’s health condition and the characteristics of surrounding environment.

In the world, for hundreds of years, OT has been an essential part of rehabilitation, playing a significant role in helping patients/clients re-integrate into society and reduce disability. 

However, in Vietnam, professional OT training had not been provided until the year of 2015. OT was only practiced in major hospitals and mostly by overseas students and volunteers. When patients were discharged, it was almost impossible to continue OT services at home, whilst to those who have just recovered from stroke, victims of accidents, or the handicapped, doing simple tasks like eating, bathing, moving around, etc, are big challenges.

Embark on a new journey

Aiming to meet with the urgent demand for OT in Vietnam, in 2015, a 5 – year project on Development of Occupational Therapy Education in Vietnam was initiated by MCNV. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Humanity & Inclusion (HI) and Albert Waaijer Foundation (the Netherlands)

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A practice session for OT students at Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Photo: courtesy of Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan

In 2016, together with two lecturers from HCMC Medical University, three lecturers of Hai Duong Technical Medical University (HTMU), Nguyen Khac Tuan, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan and Vu Thi Loan were selected to participate in the project.

As OT is a new profession in Vietnam, the lecturers have to obtain their Bachelor Degree and later the Master Degree in OT overseas, before they can officially teach the subject in their universities. In August, part of the roadmap was completed, since the lecturers graduated from the Bachelor programme in Manipal Academy of Higher Education (India).

Before moving on to the Master programme, the three lecturers are spending time on their internship at HTMU, under the instruction of an OT specialist from the Netherlands. 

Ms. Anna Kuijs, OT expert from the Netherlands instructs lecturers of HTMU in a practice session. Photo: Courtesy of MCNV

Recently, the valuable knowledge and skills they had gained from the Bachelor programme in India was shared with hundreds of students and lecturers on occasion of the World OT Day (Oct 27th) celebration in HTMU.

With vivid examples from first-hand experiences in OT, the three lecturers introduced to students and colleagues various aspects of OT, including the basic concepts to more in-depth topics such as OT application in rehabilitation, mental disorders, pediatrics, group treatment, etc. 

Via various real-life case studies, the presentation, step by step, took the beginners through an exciting tour to explore the world of OT, bringing the profession closer to the students and lecturers, highlighting the practice of OT through simple daily activities, including identifying risks in clients’ home to ensure safety, or re-designing a soup spoon into bigger size to facilitate patient’s self-feeding, etc.

Extraordinary supports  

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Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan (second, left) and lecturers, classmates in India. Photo: Courtesy of Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan

To be able to completing their Bachelor programme in India, the three had to overcome numerous obstacles. The challenge was not only keeping up with the curriculum, but also adapting to the new living and learning environment, filled with various barriers in language and cultural difference.

The challenge was overcome thank to their own effort and the supports of lecturers and friends in India. 

 “In order to help us understand better, the lecturers often spoke slower in class. Whenever we have any question, they always patiently explained for us. As they were aware of our nervousness, our teachers would include funny stories into their lessons to create a friendly and cheerful atmosphere. When it came to written assignment, our friends and teachers spent time helping us going through our works, to make sure we have adequate understanding of the subject as well as improving English skills,” said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan. 

“In the first few days of our arrival in India, our lecturers even spent a whole day accompanying us to look for proper accommodation”, Nguyen Khac Tuan said.

In addition to the supports from lecturers and classmates, during three years in India, Tuan, Ngan and Loan had received unwavering supports from MCNV.

“The people from MCNV including Country Director Mr. Pham Dzung, OT Programme Coordinator Ms. Trang Tran kept standing by our side throughout the journey in India. To us, they are our dear brothers and sisters, who gave us the strength to overcome all of the obstacles we faced in the last three years. They not only helped us from the very first step of the overseas study journey, but also kept watching us from the distance. They listened to us, provided advices, messaged whenever we needed to encourage us” Ngan said. 

“During the early time in India, my English skills were still limited. This shortcoming affected my social life and study. Thanks to MCNV’s attention, I had the chance to take an extra English course to consolidate my skills”, Vu Thi Loan said. 

After three years studying in India, nowadays, Loan has become a fluent communicator in English. In the World OT Day celebration held in HTMU on October 24, on the stage, in front of mass audience, she successfully fulfilled the role of an interpreter to support OT expert Anne Kuijs connect with the lecturers and students.

The road ahead

Three years in India not only builds a solid foundation in OT for the three lecturers but also instills the passion for this new profession in them.

“OT training is highly useful and beneficial to learners. Before taking the course in Manipal Academy of Higher Education, I didn’t really understand what OT meant, even couldn’t distinguish between physical therapy and OT. Nowadays, I am confident that I have gained adequate knowledge about the foundation of OT. I am particularly keen on the incorporation of Speech Therapy and PT and the patient-centric approach. Via in-depth inter-sectoral collaboration, we will help maximize the effectiveness of treatment, which is our key goal”, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan said. 

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(From the left) Nguyen Khac Tuan, Vu Thi Loan and friends in India. Photo: Courtesy of Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan

According to Nguyen Khac Tuan, OT in Vietnam has a bright prospect. “Despite I just provided a few lectures on OT, I can feel the interest the students have for this subject.

Tuan said, what he loves about OT was its simplicity. “It can be conducted without modern, costly equipment or sophisticated techniques.”

“With the client-centered approach, OT pays attention to clients needs, and based on that, guiding them to participate in activities which are meaningful to them in daily life, helping improve health and maximize the level of independence”, the lecturer emphasized.

At the moment, Tuan is helping to build an OT lab in the Rehabilitation faculty of the Hospital of HTMU. Talking about his goal for the future, Tuan said:

According to the World report on disability 2011 by World Health Organization, over 60% of disabled people in developing countries are in need of rehabilitation services. In Vietnam, the number is estimated at 4 million.Each year, two major hospitals of Vietnam, Bach Mai and Cho Ray received around 2,000 case of spinal cord injury, which is critically in need for OT.In addition to manpower building, MCNV is also an active organization in developing OT network, awareness raising, and policy making.

“After completing my Master degree, I hope I will be able to help HTMU build a holistic OT training programme, and enhance cooperation with hospitals, universities across the country, to create a sustainable and widespread network of OT in Vietnam”. 

By Phi Yen

Vietnam Times

In order to support millions of patients or clients in their social integration and rehabilitation, the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV), for the last 3 years, has been working relentlessly to nurture manpower in Occupational Therapy, a new profession in Vietnam. 

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MCNV’S calculations work in Phu Yen and Nong

Better food + less sickness = less poverty

In Phu Mo, Phu Yen province and in Nong, Savannakhet province (Laos), MCNV supervises two projects to combat child malnutrition. Our approach to the problems in the isolated villages is broader than just a nutrition plan for the little ones, we also include agriculture and hygiene in and around the houses. The result: better food, fewer diseases and, in the long run, less poverty.

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MCNV was honored and awarded with the Certificate of Merit by the People’s Committee of Phu Yen Province for its great contributions to the development of Phu Yen Province!

Today, November 1st, 2019, at 105A Quan Thanh, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) cooperated with the People’s Committee of Phu Yen Province to organize successfully the “Conference on promotion of foreign non-governmental organizations’ assistance to Phu Yen province”.

The conference brought Mr. Bach Ngoc Chien – VUFO’s Vice President, Mr. Phan Dinh Phung – Vice Chairman of the Phu Yen Provincial People’s Committee, and representatives of over 50 governmental agencies and national and international NGOs, including the Delegation of EU to Vietnam, the US Embassy, IOM, Oxfam, Marie Stopes International, East Meets West, Action Aid, and MCNV.

At the conference, delegates presented reports on the foreign assistance to Phu Yen province during the last decade and drew up plans and directions for other cooperation to Phu Yen in the coming time.

MCNV had the privilege to be one in six organizations got honored and awarded with the Certificate of Merit by the People’s Committee of Phu Yen Province for its great contributions to the development of Phu Yen Province.

At the conference, Mr. Pham Dung – MCNV Vietnam’s Country Director and Mr. Nguyen Huu Tu, Chair of the People’s Committee of Dong Xuan Commune also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the “Cooperation on Mobilizing Fund and Implementation of Project at Dong Xuan Commune, period 2021 – 2022”. The project will focus on expanding the Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) approach to address the malnutrition among children under 5 years old in mountainous communes and districts in Dong Xuan district, Phu Yen province.

Mr. Pham Dung – MCNV Vietnam’s Country Director and Mr. Nguyen Huu Tu, Chair of the People’s Committee of Dong Xuan Commune also signed the Memorandum of Understanding.


Six organizations received the Certificates of Merit from the People’s Committee of Phu Yen Province.


The conference.

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Biogas in the memory of a donor

Tom Fluitsma is an MCNV donor and has been an active volunteer from 1999 onwards, as an editor of MCNV Magazine and as a tour leader of donor travels. He has often traveled in Vietnam, with and without donors. This year he writes columns about special memories of the times he was there.

Mr. Tom Fluitsma, MCNV’s donor


November 1999. My first visit to Vietnam. Of course, we also visit the Mekong Delta for a few days. Our travel guide takes us to tourist sights. Sometimes he adds a small surprise to our program. For example, we visit a small farming village in the delta. We walk into the yard of a family and are warmly welcomed in their wooden house. There are a few large pigs in a pen next to the house. We exchange some courtesies and the guide translates: ‘You are welcome in our house. Take some of the fruit on the table’, ‘Thank you so much, kind of you to receive us’. In the meantime, I can’t keep my eyes off a giant plastic bag hanging under the roof of the house.

Pigs. In the Netherlands we like pork chops or bacon. We keep a lot of pigs for that, about 12.5 million. The manure of all these pigs is useful in agriculture, but it also produces a lot of greenhouse gases. We can hardly use that with global warming going on. No surprise, therefore, that this topic gets attention in the draft climate agreement. One of the many documents associated with this agreement contains the following proposal: ‘Processing and valorization of all fresh pig manure in closed regional clusters into green energy, substitutes for fossil fertilizer and valuable fertilizers’.

Biogas. In Vietnam there are 4 million pig farmers. There are differences between Vietnam and the Netherlands, but one thing is the same: Vietnamese pigs also produce manure and that manure also produces a lot of greenhouse gases. In November 2018, an interesting article was published in our NRC newspaper about a study into the extent to which countries succeed in offering their population a good standard of living, without exceeding ecological limits. Vietnam does relatively well in that study. Nice detail: almost 10% of pig farmers have a biogas installation. The article reminds me of my visit to Vietnam in 1999.

Back to the Mekong Delta, November 1999. I’m still looking at that giant plastic bag hanging under the roof. Our guide notices. That was exactly his intention, he didn’t take us to this family for nothing. He no longer leaves me in suspense: “This farmer has a few pigs. He collects the manure in the sealed container that you see there. He leads the biogases that are released upwards into the big bag in that thick plastic hose. At the back of the bag a black tube goes to the gas burner in the kitchen. This is how this family cooks, on free gas’. A special place of interest, off the beaten tourist paths. That was in 1999. Now, twenty years later, there are 350.000 pig farmers in Vietnam with an installation like that. As far as I know, Vietnam does not have a climate agreement, but the pig farmers there are well on their way to ‘processing and upgrading all fresh pig manure in closed region clusters into green energy’.


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“We now think differently about disabled people”

Ngoc Lan, staff member of MCNV for 20 years

“We now think differently about disabled people”

As soon as we meet each other in the lobby of the hotel in Dong Ha, Nguyen Ngoc Lan spreads her arms and walks towards me with a smile. A cordial and inviting gesture that, according to all of MCNV colleagues, is characteristic of Ngoc Lan. She is a doctor, worked as a project manager at MCNV in Quang Tri for almost 20 years and left the organization at the end of 2018. While enjoying a cool glass of fruit juice I ask her to look back on the many projects in which she participated. Does she see improvements in the lives of the people she has supported?

Ms. Ngoc Lan, staff member of MCNV for 20 years

Compared to the past I certainly see improvements in the lives of the disabled,” says Ngoc Lan. “Soon after I started at MCNV in 1999, I went to see a poor family with four disabled children. Try to imagine that, four seriously ill children in one family, who received no help or support whatsoever. Imagine the struggle of the parents to improve the situation. After the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a guideline on the inclusion of disabled people, MCNV, together with partners, devised a comprehensive approach to tackle the problems of disabled people. Good results have emerged from this.

” Having a disability, getting married was once unthinkable”

People with disabilities were dicriminated in the past, but when they stood up and started working, they got respect from the people around them. For the first time their lives moved upwards instead of spiraling downwards. People with disabilities who are getting married, for example, this was previously unthinkable in Vietnam. Most disabled people can now develop better physically because they can use guidance and physiotherapy at a young age. They have more self-confidence and can participate better, they learn that in the organization for the disabled. But that did not happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, we have been busy improving the living conditions of the disabled for 20 years. And we could only achieve that together with our very valuable partners and donors. The motto of the disability organization is: we learn, adapt and change. We learn, adapt and change, that also applies to MCNV.

“I am proud of what MCNV has done and I believe that much more can still be achieved, together with partners and donors.”

Already ten years later much more support was available for people with physical disabilities. But there was nothing at all for people with epilepsy or schizophrenia, for example. They were given some form of medication and nothing else. The medical staff was not trained to help these people in their daily activities or to improve their lives. Thanks to subsidies from the TEA (Transition in the East Alliance) program, from 2011 onwards, MCNV could implement a number of Mental Health projects. The changes we saw there were not so many in quantity, but essential in the quality of the lives of these people. Their family members were taught more about the illness of their loved ones and how to deal with their problems. We also trained the medical staff to better tailor the medication to suit the patient and the disease. There has been lot of progress, at relatively little cost, and MCNV can be proud of that.”

Support for school project

Ngoc Lan: “Another important project is waiting for support from MCNV. Two years ago a study showed that high school students suffer from depression, behavioral disorders and stress. More than 20% of 12- to 20-year old students have trouble in their lives. The rise of social media in Vietnam plays a role in that, because young people experience pressure to always deliver and be popular. Teachers can see these problems, but generally do not know how to support their students and, in serious cases, guide them towards professional caregivers. MCNV made a training plan for this, but we’re now waiting to implement it because unfortunately there is no money available. I hope that in the near future there will be money made available for this project still.”

By Saskia Stevens

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“Versatile approach takes time, but it really works”

Interview with Marijke and Pieter

“Versatile approach takes time, but it really works”

By Saskia Stevens

Marijke Postma-Rustenhoven and Pieter van den Hombergh, chairman and vice-chairman of the Supervisory Board of MCNV, visited Laos and Vietnam in November because of the 50th anniversary. A great opportunity to see with your own eyes how MCNV works and to listen to the findings of colleagues on the spot. Back in the Netherlands, they face some tough issues: which approach do we want to take in the coming years in cooperation with Vietnam and Laos? What is the best way to continue to use half a century of knowledge and experience gained in Vietnam for the people who need it so badly? And also: is it still necessary? Marijke and Pieter share their personal thoughts.

Pieter: “For me, a project like LEARN * in Laos is a good example of the type of activity that MCNV could focus on in the near future. We bring together students, doctors and scientists from our network to investigate health issues together. With the results thereof we are helping the Laos government, which is really desperate for this type of information, so that they can make better decisions to help the population.”

Marijke: “LEARN combines three spearheads of our work. What we do has scientific value for the longer term and we enable the government to develop substantiated policies based on advice. And people get practical solutions for their health and nutrition. That is an extension of the traditional “charitas” idea. Helping people becomes more interesting if you know how to translate your method into training and education, and to a better government policy.”

Pieter: “Take the project of the teenage girls in Vietnam who too often get pregnant too early and therefor have to leave school. The project was set up with limited resources and it is now ready for the next step, making the results visible and measurable: a good project evaluation is desirable. But we need extra money for that. I think the MCNV donors still want to support that. Based on fifty years of experience, MCNV has a well-considered approach, with the result that the government regularly follows our advice. Practical experience combined with research and well-founded advice thus offer a coherent approach that is also interesting for other organizations.

Solidarity forever

Marijke: ”Of course, our donors nowadays care for other topics than they did 50 years ago. Emergency aid is no longer needed, but there are vulnerable groups, particularly in rural areas, that are in danger of lagging behind. Solidarity with these groups, the basic idea we had in the sixties, still has not changed. Our colleagues in Vietnam tell us what is happening within these vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups and the government listens to our policy advice. MCNV really has something to offer in that.”

Pieter: “To visit an MCNV project is a must for all donors who have not yet been to Vietnam. It was a pleasant sensation for me to see that we experience the same concerns and compassion as our Vietnamese colleagues and partners. Vietnam has developed strongly in a materialistic sense. It is also great to see that there is so much compassion among the population with people who have less.”

Continue independently in Vietnam?

Marijke: “We are still thinking about MCNV becoming independent in Vietnam. In principle, the identification of problems and thinking up solutions can be done entirely in Vietnam and Laos, that goes without saying. The question is if and how we can support that. MCNV is now an International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO), but in order to develop ties with the population and to find a sufficient number of donors among the Vietnamese population and the Vietnamese business community, it is necessary to set up a local NGO in Vietnam. You simply cannot raise funds in Vietnam from the office in Amsterdam. There will mainly be moral support from the Dutch office when setting up a local NGO, because the projects are continuing and funding from the Netherlands remains needed. The Dutch donors are indispensable, they are still the backbone of MCNV.”

Pieter: “We could think of good new themes for our work in Vietnam, but the basis is improving health, well-being and living conditions. Ultimately, that is a very broad range, because climate change and the promotion of entrepreneurship also influence people’s well-being. I don’t think our approach should change in the coming period.”

Why continue to invest in MCNV projects?

Marijke: “MCNV is very good at Community Based Development, the development of people from within the villages and communities themselves. And I want to emphasize that in this organization nothing sticks to the fingers, which is a very important issue among donors, and rightly so!

Pieter: “MCNV has its roots in the communities, our projects are based on solidarity and they are concrete, appealing projects. The commitment of the fellow workers in Vietnam and Laos is fantastic.”

* In Laos the five-year LEARN program (Lao Equity through policy Analysis and Research Networks), is largely funded by the European Commission, and aims to improve the capacity of health institutions and health policies both within Laos and in the wider Mekong region.


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