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MCNV continues promoting inclusive education in Vietnam


The opening ceremony of Dien Bien Support Center for the Development of Inclusive Education on September 11 has paved the way for a brighter future of children with disabilities in Dien Bien province. As part of the event, the Center also kick started the new academic year 2020-2021.

In 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and the Dien Bien provincial Department of Education and Training, declaring the willingness to establish and mobilize funding for the construction of Dien Bien Support Center for the Development of Inclusive Education (Support Center).

Thanks to great support from the Provincial People’s Committee and Department of Education and Training of Dien Bien Province, donors from the Netherlands, Kind Heart Foundation (Vingroup) and PwC, the Support Center was put into operation in October 2019 and welcomed its first batch of students in December of the same year.

An outdoor lesson in the Support Center. Photo: MCNV

Being established as core part of the project ‘Capacity building for Dien Bien Support Center for the Development of Inclusive Education’ by MCNV, the Center aims to provide expertise and support in early detection, early intervention and inclusive education for children with disabilities in Dien Bien; raising community awareness towards equal rights of children with disabilities; and assisting community and parents in supporting their disabled children’s social inclusion.

A teacher helps her student improve mobility skill. Photo: MCNV

After two enrollments, the Support Center has now become the ‘second home’ of 41 children aged 3-15 who are living with different forms of disabilities (autism, intellectual disability, hearing impairment, etc). The Support Center has started providing consultancy and expertise support for primary schools which mainstream children with disabilities.

Filled with the colors and scents of nature, the Support Center provides a relaxing environment for children with disabilities. Photo: MCNV

Covering an area of nearly 6000m2, the Support Center consists of 6 buildings, with a total number of 24 rooms, including classrooms, multisensory rooms, individual intervention rooms, etc, to accommodate different needs of students.

In order to facilitate the rehabilitation and improvement of students’ senses and skills, the Support Center is furnished with a variety of necessary aids and equipment, such as keyboard, manual alphabet, sensory pads, twisting puzzle, manipulative, etc.

According to Deputy Chairman of Dien Bien provincial People’s Committee, Mr. Le Van Quy, there are nearly 4,000 children of disabilities in Dien Bien. Many of them are still out of school and many others are struggling in adapting to general education environment.

“I hope the Support Center will step by step reinforce its teaching quality, and become the trusted second home of children with disabilities in Dien Bien”, he said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Director General of the Department of Primary Education, Ministry of Education and Training, Standing Deputy Head of the Steering Committee on Education for Children with disabilities, Dr.Ta Ngoc Tri, emphasized the importance of inclusive education, and highlighting the practical roles of the Support Center in the national education system.

Dr.Ta Ngoc Tri speaks at the event. Photo: MCNV

“The Support Center not only works on early detection and intervention to help students with disabilities grow to full potential, but also plays a significant role in assisting other schools and education institutions in improving inclusive education,” he noted.

According to MCNV Country Director, Mr. Pham Dung, the establishment of the Support Center in Dien Bien province is realized based on the previous successful models supported by MCNV in three provinces of Dak Lak, Phu Yen and Cao Bang. MCNV therefore hopes that the Support Center will continuously improve itself to fulfill its mission and develop its capacity to serve as a technical supervisor of similar Centers in the Northwestern region in the future.

MCNV Country Director Mr.Pham Dung speaks at the event. Photo: MCNV

“Cooperation and experience exchange are of great significant in building a strong network of Support Center. For example, in the past, the Support Center in Dak Lak stood by the Center in Cao Bang, and nowadays, the Center in Cao Bang is assisting the Center in Dien Bien,” he said.

On this occasion, the Support Center also received gifts including water filter, winter blankets and warm clothes from various sponsors.

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650 compost bins presented to Ben Tre province

Last August, 650 compost bins were presented to 10 districts/wards of Ben Tre city and Chau Thanh district (Ben Tre province). In more details, 600 compost bins were distributed to 600 households, while 50 bins (larger size) were handed to 04 markets and 10 schools.

Compost bins presented to households in Ben Tre city in August 2020. Photo: Ben Tre provincial Women’s Union

In addition, a workshop on converting waste into fertilizer using compost bins was provided to 600 households, while 350 households received training on growing organic vegetables.

Workshop on waste-to-compost technique. Photo: Ben Tre provincial Women’s Union

The aforementioned activities were conducted in the second phase of the project ‘Community-based eco-green solution to solid waste treatment’. Funded by UPS, the project was jointly implemented by MCNV and Ben Tre provincial Women’s Union, aiming at facilitating eco-friendly practices in a simple yet effective process.

Vegetables nourished by organic compost in a beneficiary household. Photo: Ben Tre provincial Women’s Union

Kitchen garbage like fruit peels, leftover vegetables will be put into the bin, adding Effective microorganisms  (EM) to accelerate decomposition. After a few months, the waste will be turned into organic fertilizer, which is used to nourish plants in home gardens.

Waste-to-compost benefits the community in various aspects, including purifying and beautifying the environment; reducing the cost of waste collection, transportation and treatment and raising public awareness of waste management and engaging people into the process.

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Microcredit: The catalyst for change

Ms.Tran Thi Kim Thuy. Photo: Tran Le Hieu

In over the last 10 years, Microcredit has helped thousands of women in Ben Tre province find their way out of poverty. Nowadays, it keeps being the ‘catalyst for change’, helping beneficiaries push their boundaries

Ms.Tran Thi Kim Thuy (50 years old) and her husband are residents of Binh Hoa hamlet, Binh Dai township, Ben Tre province. For the past 30 years, they have been earning their living by selling crops grown in their home garden, such as corns, water spinach and banana. Everyday, they worked hard not only to make the family’s end meets, but also prepare for their children’s future.

In the last recent years, the couple’s effort has paid off. Their son and daughter have completed their education and been living overseas with stable jobs.

At home, Thuy and her husband continue to work on improving the household economy. In early 2020, Thuy’s hometown, Binh Dai township was selected for the expansion of the microcredit project funded by the Microcredit for Mother (MfM) foundation (the Netherlands), a sponsor of MCNV Women Empowerment (WE) program.

Thuy didn’t hesitate to take this chance to realize her goal by registering for membership. She is now member of the township’s group number 4.

Recently, Thuy made a loan worth VND 10 million (1/3 of the total cost) to invest in farming facility: a drip irrigation system.

“Thanks to microcredit group, I have got easy access to the loan I need. The lending procedure was quick and simple, no collateral is required. I therefore could purchase the equipment instantly “, she said.

The drip irrigation system in Ms.Thuy’s garden. Part of the purchase was financed by loan from the microcredit group. Photo: Tran Le Hieu

Since the system was installed, labour and workload have been significantly reduced. Ms Thuy and her husband no longer have to carry heavy buckets of water or continually dragging hoses and sprinklers from one spot to another.

Thank to the drip irrigation system, water is allowed to trickle slowly near the base of the plant through tubing, pipes, valves and emitters. As a result, constant quantities of water are delivered to the plants in a precise and continuous manner. Water hence can penetrate deeply into the soil and get well down into the plants’ root zone. Waste due to evaporation is eliminated while small flow help prevent soil erosion and nutrient runoff.

Since the Mekong Delta in general, and in Ben Tre province in particular has been severely affected by climate change and saltwater intrusion, equipment that can improve water efficiency like the drip irrigation system is a valuable asset.

“The system has been creating healthier growing conditions and higher yields for my garden. The change motivates me to work harder to improve the quality and quantity of the crops, so our vegetables can be sold in supermarkets”, Thuy said.

  • The Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district was launched by MCNV and sponsors in 2009.
  • In 2020, the project has been expanded to 11 communes and townships, including Binh Dai township, thanks to the funding of Microcredit for Mothers (MfM) foundation.
  • The project has been expanded to 11 communes and townships, providing financial services and facilitate socio-economic inclusion for over 5,000 disadvantaged and poor women, supporting household economy development, response to saltwater intrusion and new rural development.
  • Nowadays, the project has become financially self-sustained, and is being conducted with the permission of the State Bank of Vietnam, Ben Tre provincial branch.

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LEARN Knowledge Translation and LEARN Evaluation Recap

The two-day event LEARN Knowledge Translation and LEARN Evaluation was successfully held in the capital city of Vientiane on July 30 & 31.

The event aimed to evaluate the 5 years of the program LEARN (Lao Equity through Policy Analysis and Research Networks).
Present at the event were EU Head of Cooperation to the Lao PDR, Bryan Fornari; HE Mr Leon Faber – EU Ambassador to Lao PDR; Vice Minister of Health, HE Mr Khamphone Phouthavong; Dr. Bounthom Samountry, Acting President of University of Health Sciences; Dr. Sengchanh Kounnavong, Director of the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Delegates participate in group discussion. Photo: MCNV Laos

On the first day of the event, the delegates participated in discussion on the achievements, lessons learned from the 5-year journey of LEARN and the plan for a follow-up program in the time to come.
The second day of the event began with the launch of the LEARN Special Issue of Global Health Action Journal, in which 14 thesis were published from the LEARN Master in Public Health program and PhD program.

MCNV Laos Country Director Rebecca Derry presents the Global Health Action journal to his excellency, Mr. Khamphone Phouthavong, Vice Minister of Health. Photo: MCNV Laos

Being conducted in a period of five years, the 14 thesis look into multi angles of reproductive health and nutrition in Lao PDR, such as Pregnancy Health Literacy among Teenagers, Factors Influencing Sexual Reproductive Health Among Adolescents, Stillbirth in Lao PDR, Anaemia Among Adolescents, Quality of Family Planning Services for Women of Reproductive Age.

In particular, much of the research was focused on tackling long-term issues like malnutrition and teen pregnancy and helps to point out newly emerging issues such as the increase in obesity in the urban areas of Laos.
The two-day event was concluded with the graduation ceremony for the second cohort of Master in Public Health students.

Second cohort of Master in Public Health under LEARN celebrates their graduation ceremony. Photo: MCNV Laos

As part of LEARN, 19 students of University of Health Science (Laos) have completed their Master in Public Health. The first cohort of 9 marked their graduation in February 2020.

Funded by the European Union (EU) and coordinated by MCNV Laos, VU University of Amsterdam, Hanoi University of Public Health, the project Lao Equity through Policy Analysis and Research Networks (LEARN) aims to support the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute (Lao TPHI) and University of Health Sciences, Faculty of Public health.

With this support these institutes can provide national health authorities and stakeholders with expertise, documentation, reports and relevant tools for increasingly evidence-based health policy-making. The project will enhance the institutional development; build capacities, and increase resources of Lao TPHI and University of Health Sciences, faculty of public health.

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24 teachers in Dien Bien province receive TEACCH training

“Applying TEACCH- Treatment and Education Autistic Children Communication Handicap’ was the theme of a workshop recently taking place in Dien Bien province (from July 27-30).

The workshop was organized by the provincial Department of Education and Training with the support from MCNV, as part of the two sides’ cooperation in 2020.
The 24 trainees were teachers of the Dien Bien Support Center and teachers of children with disabilities in the province. The workshop was conducted by Dr.Nguyen Thi Kim Quy, former Head of the Educational Psychology department, Hanoi University of Education.

Trainer – Dr.Nguyen Thi Kim Quy (left) give instruction to the trainees

TEACCH is a lifetime approach designed to assist children with autism. TEACCH was first practiced in the 1970s by psychological experts in the University of North Carolina, US. Nowadays, TEACCH has become a comprehensive clinical and psychoeducational programme to support people with autism worldwide.

Based on the fact that autistic children tend to have a visually based learning style, TEACCH focuses on the use of visual and structured teaching rather than verbal instruction.

In the four-day training, under the guidance of Dr.Nguyen Thi Kim Quy, 24 trainees were provided with a theoretical foundation of TEACCH, trained on how to apply TEACCH techniques in helping students develop skills such as imitation, perception, fine motor, gross motor, etc. As part of the workshop, the trainees also got hand-on experience in planning a TEACCH lesson by themselves.

Below are some of the testimonials:

The TEACCH approach is very useful and practical. We’ll take account of and  incorporate this approach into our work guideline, lesson planning and apply into the academic year 2020-2021 as well as in the years to come.

Mai Thi Hong Nhung, Director of the Dien Bien Support Center

“I am strongly impressed by TEACCH as it focuses on children’s skills, instead of their weaknesses. What I like the most from the course was the skills and knowledge I have acquired in designing a TEACCH-based lesson by myseld”.

Ca Van Thu, Head of the Organization-Administration, Treatment and Counselling Department, Dien Bien Support Center.

“After the course, I have become aware of the positive outcome brought about by early detection and early intervention for kids with autism/communication handicap. I’ll dig deeper into this field to apply it into practice effectively, and try my best to design supporting activities to apply TEACCH to students with mild condition of autism.”

Pham Thanh Hue, Vice Rector of Hoang Cong Chat Preschool, Dien Bien district, Dien Bien province

Located in the Southwest border of Vietnam, Dien Bien province has a population of nearly 550,000. According to a statistical research conducted in 2018, the number of children with disability in the province is over 3,000 (age 0-18), of which 643 kids have never been to school (21%), 773 have dropped out (24%). The rest of the children are going to local schools (from preschool to high school level), accounting for 55%.

  • MCNV kick started supporting healthcare and rehabilitation for persons with disabilities in Dien Bien province in 2014. In 2016, MCNV and the Dien Bien provincial Department of Education and Training signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to declare the willingness to establish and mobilize funding for the construction of the Support Center.
  • The project was subsequently financially sponsored by Thien Tam Foundation (VINGROUP), pledging to provide funding for part of the infrastructure (a 2-storey buiding with 8 classrooms).
  • In October 2019, the Supporting Center was officially put into operation. With financial and technical supports by MCNV, the staff of the center have been benefited from various capacity building activities.
  • Since December 2019, the Center started to admit students with disabilities. The Center has so far providing teaching and daycare services for 40 children with different forms of disabilities.
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Roll-out of Vietnam’s Occupational Therapy website

The first official website of Vietnam’s Occupational Therapy is now accessible at http://otvietnam.net/en/

In the world, for hundreds of years, Occupational Therapy (OT) has been an essential part of rehabilitation, playing a significant role in helping patients 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 at home, whilst to those who have just recovered from stroke, victims of accidents, or the handicapped, doing simple tasks like self-feeding, bathing, moving around, etc, are big challenges.

Aiming to meet with the urgent demand for Occupational Therapy (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).

In addition to nurturing a competent team of OT lecturers and professional therapists for Vietnam, the project also works on building a professional association in OT. With the launch of the first OT website in Vietnam, we have made one more step closer to this goal.

Available in two languages Vietnamese-English, the website aims to serve as a credible platform for knowledge sharing and experiences exchange for all OT therapists in Vietnam, worldwide and all those who are interested in OT.

Visit us at: http://otvietnam.net/en/

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New playgrounds bring fun-filled summer to mountainous kids

Hundreds of children in Huong Hoa district (Quang Tri province) will have a joyful summer thanks to the newly-built playgrounds in their locality.

The two playgrounds are located in Hoong village (Huong Linh commune) and Moi village (Huong Son commune) in Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province, with vivid decoration designed for kids of age 5-12.

The playground equipments were manufactured by a mechanic workshop nearby Dong Ha city in half a month before the installment.

Since August 2018, totally nine playgrounds have been constructed for kids in Huong Hoa district by MCNV, of which eight were sponsored by Suus van Hekken fund and one was funded by Hoi An Roastery. The total value of the nine playgrounds was 5,500 euros (140 million VND).

In the last two years, around 1,000 children of ethnic minority have accessed to the infrastructure.

In the border district of Huong Hoa, recreation facilities for children are considered luxury in most villages. Instead of spending leisure time in playgrounds, kids of ethnic minorities have to play in unsafe or unhygienic environment like roadsides, stream banks or home yard where poultry, cattles are raised.

The playgrounds were constructed as part of the project titled Supporting Ethnic Minority Adolescent Girls which has been implemented by MCNV since 2017. In 2019, the project was renamed as Ethnic Minority Community Development.

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1,000 visitors amazed by festival camping in highland forest

Recently, 1,000 of people were strongly impressed by an outdoor event taking place in Sa Mu Pass , Huong Phung commune, Huong Hoa district, Quang Tri province.

The festival camping themed “The role of the community in protecting forest and biodiversity” was jointly held by MCNV and the Management Board of the Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve on July 4-5th.

Around 1,000 participants including local residents, the authorities, representatives of governing agencies and tourists were present at the event.

Various activities were organized as part of the event, including awareness raising campaign on forest protection and sustainable management; exhibition of non-timber forestry products and local specialties.

The event amazed visitors with exotic culture of Van Kieu ethnic minority being featured on spectacular camps which were made from natural materials (bamboo, rattan, palm trees), decorated with traditional household applicances.

These camps also served as pavillion displaying delicate bamboo handicraft made by skillful workers of local ethnic minorites.

In addition, the event also brought to participants various captivating activities such as sports competition, arts performing and a dialogue celebrating the 10th founding anniversary of the Management Board of Northern Huong Hoa Nature Reservoir. The dialogue was a meaningful sharing platform where the 10-year journey was recalled while the plans for the future were unveiled by the insiders.

Local forestry sector and authorities spoke highly of the event as an initiative bringing precious opportunities to people of ethnic minorities to develop livelihood based on non-timber products and sustainable forest management.

At present, the Management Board of Bac Huong Hoa Nature Reserve and MCNV are joining hands to map out a cooperation plan in the time to come, with focus on awareness raising, reinforcing the role, responsibility and participation of the community in forest protection and management, at the same time helping residents living nearby forests can develop sustainable livelihood.

The event was held as part of the project ‘Promoting sustainable partnership between CSOs and enterprises for sustainable forest management in the context of climate change’ (PROSPER) co- funded by the European Union and MCNV in Quang Tri province, period 2020-2022.

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When WE dance in the rain

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”, this saying can apply to many incidents in our life, including the fight against COVID-19.

This is a garment manufacturing group of Tan Thieng commune, Cho Lach district, the Mekong delta province of Ben Tre. The group is one of the 19 cooperative groups financially supported by Jumpstart Foundation (the Netherlands), as part of the Women Empowerment programme (WE), implemented by MCNV.

Founded in January 2019, the group has created job for 20 members, generating monthly income of around VND 3-4 million for each. The main products of the group are female clothings and beddings. Workers can choose to work full-time or part-time, work at the group’s facility or work from home.

Besides its flexibility, garment manufacturing is considered a safe choice of occupation (not depends on the nature) in the context of climate change and salt intrusion, which are getting more severe in Ben Tre.

In the first half of 2020, due to COVID-19, the group’s production was suspended for over 2 months. Nonetheless, instead of wasting time on feeling sorry for themselves, they took this chance to contribute to the community by making face masks. The fabric were provided by the commune authorities while the leader of the group, Ms.Nguyen Thi Ngoc Yen, used her pocket money to sponsor wage for the workers.

In March and April, 10,000 masks were produced and distributed as the gift of care to residents in the commune, the district, of which 5,000 were donated to local schools.

To acknowledge their dedication to the fight against COVID-19, Ben Tre provincial Women’s Union recently awarded Tan Thieng garment manufacturing group with the Certification of Recognition.

COVID-19 is now contained in Vietnam, and the group production has been restored since June. They are putting even more efforts in their works, which beautifies others  and brighten their future, at the same time.

– Stay tuned for further update!

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Huong Hoa bamboo handicraft: Ready to take off

Representatives of three bamboo handicrafts groups recently took part in a tourism promotion cooperation workshop held in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province.

The event was held by Quang Tri province’s Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Agency (IPA) on June 29th, bringing together 100 delegates from local authorities, governing agencies and a number of interested enterprises in and outside Quang Tri.

Two representatives of three ethnic-minority production groups from Chenh Venh village (Huong Phung commune), Ta Puong village (Huong Viet commune), and Cu Bai (Huong Lap commune), Huong Hoa district were invited to the event with their delicate handicrafts made from Vietnam’s symbolic plant: bamboo.

Deep in the jungle of Huong Hoa where lived the skillful workers of Van Kieu ethnic minorities, bamboo was turned into beautiful and useful items: travel utensils, drinking straws, candle holders. These products were brought closer to potential customers thanks to the workshop.

This was also a great stride of Huong Hoa bamboo production groups since young female members could confidently take part in a networking event, where they could reach out to visitors who came from different business sectors. They took the chance to brief potential customers on the production process and at the same time, listening to their feedback to learn more about the market preference and demand. As the conversation went, more opportunities were unveiled.

From raw bamboo to exquisite products, from the forest to the market, it is a long journey. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and Huong Hoa bamboo handicrafts have made an impressive first step to success.

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