Social Inclusion

Homemade with Heart season #2 open for application

After the first successful season in 2020, Homemade with Heart is back this year!!

💁‍♀️💁‍♂️Regardless of what your profession is, as long as you have the passion for invention, the aspiration to support independence and participation of persons with disabilities.

💙 Homemade with Heart contest is for YOU !!!

The contest aims to stimulate the sharing of simple ideas and inventions that support the autonomy of persons with disabilities (PwDs) during their daily life activities. With two categories (Professional & Non-Professional), Homemade with Heart will help open a world of possibilities for PwDs and at the same time unlock your potential for creativity.

🆙👉Check out the contest’s website to know more about the application https://homemadewithheart.vn/

This contest is brought to you by Humanity &Inclusion Vietnam and USAID, in partnership with MCNV, ACDC and JICA

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Project on Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities concluded with encouraging results

Participants at the workshop

After nearly two years of implementation, the project “Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities in Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts” funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has helped underprivileged people make a step closer to self-reliance and social inclusion.

With a total value of EUR 100,000, the project was jointly implemented by the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV), Quang Tri provincial Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and the province’s Association of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and Agent Orange Victims, Sponsorship for PWDs and Child Right Protection (DPO).

The project was concluded with a closing workshop held on May 4 th, 2021, in Dong Ha city, Quang Tri province, providing the stakeholders with insights of the project outcomes, challenges during the implementation process and post-project action plan.

The workshop brought together delegates of Quang Tri CEMA, Quang Tri DPO, Quang Tri Department of Natural Resources and Environment and representatives of 13 commune beneficiaries of 2 districts Dakrong and Huong Hoa.
Conducted in the format of a hybrid meeting, the workshop welcomed the virtual participation of Mr. Peeters Robbie, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam and Mr.Pham Dung, Country Director of MCNV Vietnam.

In nearly two years of implementation, the project has supported the leveling of residential land, agricultural production land and granting land use right certificates to ethnic minority households with PWDs in Dakrong and Huong Hoa district, facilitating independent livings and social inclusion.

Despite the setbacks of Covid-19 and the historic floods sweeping through Quang Tri in October-November 2020, the project has achieved significant results, with 112 ethnic minority households with PWDs received support to level residential land (13,558 m2) and agricultural land (84,080 m2). Meanwhile, 18 households was supported in the granting of land use rights certificates.
These supports have vastly contributed to PwD’s property ownership verification and lay a better foundation for their agricultural production.

Mr. Ho Van Che (Huc Nghi commune, Dakrong district) a beneficiary of the project “Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities in Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts”. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

As part of the project, a database consisting the information on the status of residential and agricultural production land of over 22,000 PwDs households was created, aiming to assist Quang Tri province in approaching the government’s related policies. The model is the first one of its kind that has ever been applied in Vietnam.
Moreover, the project provided PwDs with better access to policies on land use rights and related policies, services and procedures via training workshop, communication on awareness raising and capacity building for Quang Tri DPO.

Via these activities, the project contributed to accelerate the realization of the Resolution No. 10/2018/NQ-HĐND themed “Policy on supporting residential land and funding for granting certificates of land use rights, production land for poor ethnic minority households and poor households in the communes of region III and extremely difficult villages in the period 2019-2022”.
Despite the project has been concluded, the models piloted in the project are expected to contribute to realizing the National Target Program 2021-2030 on socio-economic development of ethnic minorities-inhabited areas, including two projects on land and resilient settlement.

Mr.Peeters Robbie speaks at the workshop.

Talking about the outcomes of the project, Mr. Peeters Robbie, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Vietnam, stated: “What has been achieved is something we can all be proud of”, considering the hurdles of Covid-19 and the floods hitting the region in October and November 2020. On the occasion, he highlighted the spirit of equality and equity in the longstanding cooperation between the Netherlands and Quang Tri province which is “still very much alive today.”

“For this project, we figuratively and quite literally are leveling the playing field”, he said, emphasizing the belief that everyone should have a fair opportunity to develop a living for themselves.

To conclude his speech, Mr. Robbie commended all the project partners on their hard work and results obtained and expressed his wish for field visit in the near future.

Speaking at the workshop, Head of Quang Tri province’s CEMA, Mr.Le Van Quyen highly appreciated the results of the project:

“The project has practically helped meet the need for residential and production land of PwDs, via the close cooperation between authorities of various sectors, including ethnic minorities affairs, natural resources and environment, land registration and non governmental organization,” he said.

The Head of Quang Tri CEMA also suggested a longer period of implementation of project related to land use rights, in order to create more profound impacts.

In the workshop, delegates also gave recommendations on how to improve access to land use rights for PwDs, suggesting Quang Tri DOP to take proactive step in mobilizing and diversifying sponsorships, including those from enterprises and the enhancement of communication and awareness raising activities on land use rights policy./.

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Early Detection – Early Intervention and Inclusive Education project in Cao Bang close

In the past 18 years, the project Early Detection – Early Intervention (ED-EI) and Inclusive Education project implemented by MCNV in Cao Bang province has practically benefited the locality in various aspects.

A classroom of the Support Center in Cao Bang.

The project is part of the Disability program kick started in April 2002 by MCNV in Cao Bang province, aiming to achieve three goals: (1) Capacity building for officials and teachers in ED-EI and education for Children with Disabilities (CwDs), (2) Enhancing the capacity of participatory authorities, especially the provincial Support Center for the development of Inclusive Education, equipping the Center with sufficient resources and expertises to adequately provide qualified services to CwDs in the province; (3) Fostering the capacity of systems that support and implement ED-EI for CwDs.

In order to achieve these goals, the establishment and development of the Support Center is regarded as the key component of the project.

After 18 years, the project was concluded in late 2020 and has already been handed over to Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training. In the project closing workshop held in late March 2021, Head of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training, Mr.Vu Van Duong and Prof.Dr. Le Van Tac, independent specialist who was in charge of the project final term evaluation, shared impressive figures and facts.

Breaktime on the Support Center’s yard.

According to the report, the Project has largely contributed to the vast increase of the percentage of CwDs attendance to school (from nearly 30% in 2002 to 89.1% in 2020). Currently, in Cao Bang province, 372 education institutions (among 503 preschools, primary schools, secondary schools,) are admitting CwDs.

Since the establishment of the Center, a total number of 560 CwDs have been admitted to the Center to be provided with necessary interventions, rehabilitation services and training on preschool skills, of which 453 students (80%) have been admitted to common schools. Meanwhile, 560 respective parents have been provided with consultancy services, helping them improve understanding of their children’s conditions, capabilities and manage to take better care of their children. 

As part of the project, thousands of screening, evaluation and training sessions were conducted, benefiting school officers, teachers and parents of CwDs across the province.

Infographic: The project outcomes

According to the report, in over the past 18 years, the project has created significant impacts on the development of the special education system, including accelerating the enforcement of Laws on Persons with Disabilities in Cao Bang, a mountainous province with distinctive cultural and social patterns , and predominant population of ethnic minorities.

Particularly, the establishment and stable operation of the Support Center has contributed to increasing equitable opportunities for CwDs in ED, EI and inclusive education.

In terms of policy, the project has produced and disseminated evidence-based results and examples to lay a essential foundation for relevant authorities to enact Laws on Persons with Disabilities. Thanks to the project, evidence-based research results and case studies have been generated and widely disseminated, laying solid foundation for the enactment of the Laws on Persons with Disabilities and policies at national and provincial level.

A teacher teaches students in the Support Center.

In addition to directly benefiting CwDs, their parents and teachers, the project benefited other stakeholders in terms of personal development via providing learning opportunities in reporting, human resources, project management, etc.

The model is evaluated as highly feasible in disadvantaged mountainous provinces. Cao Bang province experiences are suitable to be applied to other provinces, especially in mountainous regions.

*Stakeholders’ Testimonials:

We highly appreciate the long-term commitment, professional and enthusiastic support of MCNV for the education sector of Cao Bang in early detection-early intervention and special education. MCNV has played the most important role in making the Disability program successful here. 18 years of support by MCNV is a long journey. It’s hard to have such a long-standing and close relationship like that.  (Leader of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training)

“MCNV works in a professional manner with great expertise, which made every supporting activities efficient and suit the needs of the locality and the beneficiaries.(Officer of Cao Bang provincial Department of Education and Training)

“The percentage of CwDs attending school has been on the rise while the number of dropout decreases. The coordination between school and family is getting more effective, which is considered an outcome of the project.”   (Management of local common school admitting CwDs)

“With the aforementioned outcomes, MCNV realizes that it is the time to hand over the project to Cao Bang Department of Education and Training. The Department is now ready to take charge of the next phase to make the best out of the past achievements, helping CwDs better integrate into the community and ensuring the implementation of their rights”.   (MCNV representative)  

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Homemade with Heart contest open for application

🌼 What’s is the ultimate goal of INNOVATION and CREATIVITY, if not for the betterment of people’s lives?

💁‍♀️💁‍♂️Regardless of what your profession is, as long as you have the passion for invention, the aspiration to support independence and participation of persons with disabilities.

💙 Homemade with Heart contest is for YOU !!!

The contest aims to stimulate the sharing of simple ideas and inventions that support the autonomy of persons with disabilities (PwDs) during their daily life activities. With two categories (Professional & Non-Professional), Homemade with Heart will help open a world of possibilities for PwDs and at the same time unlock your potential for creativity.

🆙👉Check out the contest’s website to know more about the application https://homemadewithheart.vn/

This contest is brought to you by Humanity &Inclusion Vietnam and USAID, in partnership with MCNV, ACDC and JICA

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Highland: Harvest seasons await!

Slowly walking pass a large area of land that was just leveled in the mountainous village of Cup, Huc Nghi commune, Dakrong district, three Van Kieu ethnicity fellows excitedly share with one another about their plan in the near future.

(From the left) Three fellows of Van Kieu ethnicity: Ho Van Che, Ho Van Ngoi and Ho Van Nghien. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

 “My land plot is quite large. I will use part of it for wetland rice cultivation, and use the rest for a chicken farm”, says Ho Van Che (41-year-old), with one hand on his crutch and the other pointing to his two plots of land which were just leveled.

 “For myself, I am not married yet, and have to rely on my parents for living. I am going to roll up my sleeves to join my parents on the paddy field soon. Hopefully, I will be able to help produce more staple food for the family. It will also be a good way to reduce the helpless feeling!” Ho Van Ngoi, 36 years old, struggles to lift up his face while talking about his future plan.

Ngoi was born with a hunched-over upper body, making it difficult to cast his eyes to the front. Even though it is hard to see Ngoi’s whole face, we still can catch a glimpse of his smile.

Ho Van Nghien, 26 years old, softly predicts: “The rainy season is coming. The rainfall will nourish the soil and stabilize it. The end of the year will be the ideal time for  sowing, and next year April it will be our first wetland rice harvest season”.

Ho Van Ngoi (left) and Ho Van Che. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

Nghien has got married and is now father of three sons. Like many households in Cup village, in order to earn enough for the family’s living, he and his wife spend most of their time working far from home on upland fields.

When the rainy season comes in early June, the couple start seeding. Robust seeds will be broadcast onto the mountainous soil, where they wait to sprout. In the next 3 or 4 months, the rice will be ready for harvest.

However, upland crop has only one season a year, yielding around five packets of rice (150 kg), only enough for the family to survive in three months.

While his wife spends time taking care of their children at home, Nghien has to take on extra works to afford the staple food for the rest of the year. One of the tasks Nghien is hired to work on is to harvest Acacia wood. He may get VND 150,000/working day. However, like many seasonal works, it cannot be a stable source of income.

 “I am exhausted with upland rice cultivation, since I have to work far from home, and climb up the high hills.”

After a while of silence, Nghien confides: “It is tiring enough for a normal person, for people with disabilities like us, it is even tougher. From my house, I have to walk four kilometers on bumpy path to reach my rice field. It takes me over one hour to walk. I am visually impaired, so I still can walk like that. My two handicapped friends, Che and Ngoi, cannot do so”.

All of the three men, Che, Nghien and Ngoi have production land located nearby their houses. Their plots of land were provided by the commune authority. However, due to the infertility of the soil and rough topography, they could not work on their land.

The light of hope only arrives when they receive the support to level the land. They are now looking forward to harvest seasons on their ‘old yet new’ pieces of land.

Ho Van Che is looking forward to his bright future. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

Supporting ground leveling for agricultural and residential land and land use rights certification are the key activities of the project “Promoting access to residential and agricultural lands for households of ethnic minority people with disabilities” jointly implemented by MCNV, the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs  of Quang Tri province, and the Association of People with Disabilities (PWDs) and Agent Orange/Dioxin victims, Sponsorship for PWDs and Child Rights Protection of Quang Tri province (Quang Tri DPO) in the mountainous districts of Dakrong and Huong Hoa.

The project is funded by the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Vietnam from July 2019 to December 2020. It is estimated that 100 households of PWDs like Che, Ngoi and Nghien will be supported in land leveling. At the same time, hundreds of households with PWDs will be benefited from better access to information, policy and services related to land use rights.

Quang Tri DPO will receive training to improve their capacity in assisting members to get access to the State’s policy for the disabled.

Yesterday, Che, Ngoi and Nghien were worried about their family’s future and the shortage of food. Today, they are looking forward to the day marking the first harvest season on their own land. That day is coming soon!

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Skill training benefits members of credit groups in Binh Dai (Ben Tre province)

15 credit group leaders and prospective clients of the Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district, Ben Tre province have recently completed a 3-day workshop on microfinance skills.

The three-day workshop equips trainees with relevant knowledge and skills.

The training aims to provide trainees with relevant knowledge in micro credit, including the access to loan, financial services and the effective use of capital, contributing to poverty alleviation and economic development in the locality.

During the three-day workshop (February 17-19th), local-based project coordinators helped 15 trainees gain fundamental understanding of ‘credit’, ‘credit group’ concept ; provided guidance on how to develop, manage and coordinate credit groups as well as introduction to Microfinance (purpose, target clients, loan policy, etc).

The workshop also included a Q&A session, in which the trainers provided answer for trainees’ enquiries on how to solve the problems they encountered while leading/participating in a credit group.

In addition, the trainees were also instructed on bookkeeping, as well as other skills in a field-trip to learn about credit management in real life.

Better financial knowledge and skills can help change the lives of many women and their families.

“We expect that all of the trainees will become helpful assistants of Binh Dai district project management board in the time to come”, said Ms.Vo Thi Be Hai, Deputy Head of the Project management board.

  • The Micro Credit and Saving project in Binh Dai district was launched by MCNV and sponsors in 2009.
  • 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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Learning about the use of Innovative Communication Methods (LICM)

Background

Disadvantaged and discriminated groups of people such as handicapped people, older people, HIV/AIDS infected people or people with a different sexual orientation are often shy, tend to stigmatise themselves, and often struggle with feelings of shame and self-doubt.

MCNV’s response

To assist disadvantaged groups in overcoming their shyness and to encourage them to engage in dialogues with a wider public, MCNV has experimented a lot with the use of Innovative Communication Methods (ICM). MCNV uses the term ‘Innovative Communication Methods’ to denounce creative and entertaining styles of communication such as community-based theatre, shadow drama, narrative story-telling, body mapping, songs, dance and participatory video.

The experience was so successful that MCNV decided to expand the application of the ICM approach to other areas of work including awareness raising on health issues and policy advocacy in areas like garbage collection and Sexual and  Reproductive Health and Rights. The ICMs that MCNV supported to use in Vietnam included theatre based approach, puppet plays, participatory video, dance and folk singing.

 

Achievements

The use of arts (drama and songs) improved the social status of both the Village Health Worker Association (VHWA) and Community Based Organisation (CBO) they cooperated with.  Besides that, the Village Health Worker Association (VHWA) and Community Based Organisation (CBO) members became more confident of themselves through the use of arts and became less afraid of speaking out in public meetings. In 2015, Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) and Old People’s Organisations (OPAs) in ethnic minority areas of Quang Tri province managed to collect Eur 30,000 from their communities through campaigns and public meetings where they performed drama and songs, and they use this money to sustain their community development activities. LICM demonstrated its positive contributions to advocacy as well. For example, in 2014, the Old People’s Organisations (DPO) in Quang Tri successfully lobbied for an increase of the budget of the district allocated to old people’s health by organising lobby events during which they performed drama.

Future plan

Recently, MCNV obtained funding of OXFAM-NOVIB and HIVOS to experiment with the use of ICM in Laos as well. MCNV will assist three vulnerable youth groups i.e. handicapped youth, LGBTQI youth and girls working in garment factories in Laos in using ICM for their own empowerment and for advocacy. The project allows MCNV to enlarge her experience in this field and promote the method further.

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Women empowerment

Background

Women empowerment refers to the multi-dimensional development that supports and enable women to take control over their lives and control their future. MCNV focuses on the most disadvantaged groups; the poor rural women under the negative influence of climate change, isolated women in mountainous and remote areas, and women living with disability or HIV/AIDS. Among all projects MCNV supported in Vietnam, women empowerment became a cross-cutting theme to guide our work with particular attention to gender issues and women’s development specifically. In Ben Tre province, MCNV implements a specialized Women Empowerment program which focuses on comprehensive support on women, from economical inclusion through microfinance to improving the political participation by women through elections.

MCNV’s responses

Having a cow is a big asset for poor women. The cow helped her to gain more self-confidence and respect from others

Through microfinance projects, MCNV has made inclusive financial services available and accessible to more than 10 thousands women in Vietnam and contributed to positive changes in their lives. Women who live in rural and remote areas bear a double burden, taking care of their family and children while simultaniously generating an income with normal labor. Household burdens limit women when it comes to finding a wage job, this is due to the job locations being in the city, far from their homes and family duties. So self-employment opportunities created by household micro-entrepreneurs allow poor rural women to earn their own livings and at the same time, being able to complete their housework. The Women Empowerment microfinance project in Ben Tre has provided a wide range of inclusive financial services including credit, saving, health insurance, loans for production groups, loans for building water containers (for drought and salinity preparedness), together with financial literary and training for poor women. These services have helped more than one thousand impoverished women better the quality of their lives and increased their income and social status.

Achivements

Monthly credit group meetings is a good opportunity to learn and share among poor women

Monthly credit group meetings is a good opportunity to learn and share among poor women

Through the microfinance and livelihood development activities, women have more changes and solidarity to perform and contribute better in community work. Regular (monthly) meetings enable them to voice their matters; exchange life experience and production knowledge; and learn from each other. That self-learning process was created and maintained by MCNV projects and has become a sustainable mechanism to empower women. Through the years, many at MCNV have witnessed several examples of life improvements. Poor women became more self-confident and more skillful in production and doing business. The neighborhood and relationships were very much improved which enabled women and also men to care about and help each other.

Ben Tre women who joined MCNV capacity training for People Committee election's candidates

Ben Tre women who joined MCNV capacity training for People Committee election’s candidates

A great step forward for women empowerment is the improvement for their political participation. More female delegations in the local government could ensure the rights and voices of women to be heard and respected. Ben Tre province is the first province in Vietnam to have a project intended to improve the successful rate for women in People Council’s election. Online survey tools were also used to collection ideas and data from the field. The successful rate for women in 2016 election had increased to 28% of total People Council comparing to 22% in the last election in 2011.

Future direction

Enhancing the ongoing women empowerment efforts and sharing our experience widely to other provinces in Vietnam as well as to other countries is the target. We are now cooperating with the Center of Women and Development to start a media development project which could film the best practices and methods in this field and share the experiences widely throughout social network to advocate for women’s development.

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Support to people with disability

Background

Approximately 7.8% of Vietnamese people are living with a disability (PWD) and about 75% of them are living in rural areas. Vietnam has ratified the UN Convention on the Right of People with Disabilities (CRPD). Accordingly, the Government commits to protect the rights of PWD based on the principles of equal opportunity and inclusive development in a barrier – free society. To realize these rights, the Vietnam National Assembly has approved the Law on Disability. Based on this, the Government has in the last 10 years developed and brought into operation many policies to support the PWD, focusing on health care, education, social security and vocational training.

Problem

However, many PWD are still excluded from different aspects of complete life. About 35 % of disabled children at primary schooling age have never gone to school while this applies to only 3 % among those without disability. Still about 42% of the PWD who can and want to work could not find a job; in comparison to 4% among those without disability. PWD are faced with many challenges in socio-economic development and in their daily life when they could not access transportation vehicles or public buildings; could not participate fully in social activities due to limited access to information and communication; could not benefit from developments as they were not heard and not counted sometime and somewhere. This situation is caused by the limited capacity of public service providers in policy implementation and the weak capacity of PWD in demanding and raising their voices while stigma and discrimination against disability still exists.

MCNV’s response to the problem

MCNV has invested a lot of resources over a long time to implement activities that support the inclusion of PWD in Vietnam. The Disablity program started with Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) as a part of Community Managed Health Development (CMHD) program in Quang Tri in the 1990s. Then it was expanded to Dak Lak (1998), Cao Bang (2001), Phu Yen (2002), Khanh Hoa (2005), and Dien Bien (2014). Today MCNV’s Disability Program consists of 4 main components:

  • Medical Rehabilitation
  • Inclusive Education
  • Income Generating Activities
  • Empowerment for PWD and Disabled People Organizations

In the implementation of the Disability Program MCNV collaborates with Governmental partners from the national to the commune level based on the existing structure of the public service system. MCNV also always involves the PWD and their families in the process. The program focuses on creating new services that are suitable to the local context of culture and resources to ensure sustainable changes in the quality of life of PWD. Much attention is given to the building of capacity for all stakeholders, including the PWD themselves, from the individual to institutional level. All support for PWD are based on their real needs and distributed with their full participation.

Achievements so far

More than 20,000 adults and children with disabilities and their families have benefited from different types of medical, educational and economical rehabilitation and social support. About 60% of PWD improved their independent functioning in daily life as a result of home based rehabilitation and referral services. 70% of poor PWD have escaped from poverty thanks to MCNV’s financial and technical support to their Income Generating Activities. 88% of CWD at school age now have access to appropriate education in the project areas. In total 47 Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO) were supported to amplify the voices of PWD in communication and dialogue on policies and services in their communities. These DPO play a fundamental role to facilitate the participation of 55% members of DPO in social and sport activities on the local and national level. The CBR model initiated by MCNV was successfully documented and integrated into the rehabilitation policy by the Ministry of Health and replicated in other provinces.

Future plan

MCNV will apply the lessons learned in supporting PWD in new areas including the Northeast and the Mekong Delta. The program will focus on facilitating cooperation among stakeholders to ensure disability issues are integrated in the mainstream of society’s development. Specific projects will be designed for PWD and their organisations to improve their capacity in lobby and advocacy for the rights of PWD. MCNV also will strengthen its cooperation with Ministries and Institutions in development of disability – related human resources as well as in seeking evidence of cost – effectiveness that can be used for policies and decision making.

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Civil Society Development

Background

Civil Society embraces the general public at large, representing the social domain that is not part of the State or the market. Civil Society is a sphere where people combine their collective interests to engage in activities with public consequence. The increasingly accepted understanding of the term Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) is that of non-state, not for-profit, voluntary organizations formed by people within the social sphere of civil society. These organisations draw from community, neighbourhood, work, social and other connections.

The Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) encouraged disabled people to share their dreams, to develop personal plans, and to help them to make those dreams and plans come true. As an organisation we grew our capabilities to support the holistic development of individuals, families and groups of people with disabilities (written by a disabled person from a village in Quang Tri Province during a reflection session in 2015).

MCNV’s response

MCNV has increasingly strengthened and cooperated with CSOs over the years. CSOs have become an increasingly common channel through which we assist elderly, women with HIV/AIDS, ethnic minorities, youth and People with a Disability (PWD) to exercise citizenship and contribute to social and economic change. The involvement of Community Based Organisations that are organised by the marginalised people themselves, ensures their full participation in our programs.

Besides working with a myriad of Community Based Organisations in Lao PDR and Vietnam, MCNV also collaborates with civil society organisations at provincial and national level. For example, MCNV has established and cooperates with provincial ‘Village Health Workers Associations’(VWHAs).

In the health system we are so close to villagers that people call us the “long arm” of the health sector. Our Village Health Workers Association was founded in 2006, and now has 1,115 members based in 138 communes in nine districts and towns of the province. On basis of our experiences in Quang Tri, two other Village Health Workers’ Associations have been established in Cao Bang and Phu Yen provinces, in 2010 and 2011. We for example support the Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO) and Old People’s Organisations (OPA) in fundraising activities. We also assist the Community Based Organisations to prepare dramas or to make video clips to lobby and advocate for better health practices and policies (Interview with Board Member of Village health Workers Association, 2015).

Achievements

To date, MCNV has strengthened and collaborated with over a hundred CSOs and CS movements in Lao PDR and Vietnam. In addition to that, MCNV has provided Technical Advice to Civil Society Partners in Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Georgia, on the strengthening of Civil Society Organisations in their country.

Through CBOs and their clubs, peer-to peer support is channelled and improvements in policy implementation and policy development are lobbied for. For example, Old People’s Organisations in Quang Tri successfully lobbied for an increase of the district budget for health of the elderly.

Due to the flexible characteristics of CSO organisations and due to their profound local knowledge on the culture and values of communities in remote areas of Lao PDR and Vietnam, they are in an excellent position to collaborate with other societal groups in experimenting new approaches in health and sustainable livelihood. For example in Lao PDR, the CBOs at village level named ‘Village Development Committees’ (VDC) have been partners of the district department of agriculture in experimenting new rice varieties, cattle raising and fish ponds.

Trust relationships between villagers and district partners has improved. The VDCs are able to articulate the needs of the ethnic minority groups in the villages and this has led to more communication and achievements of program interventions in the villages. (Interview with consultant evaluating the program in Lao PDR, 2014).

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