Blog

MCNV and a.s.r. win Partnership Award 2016

On Thursday afternoon, May 12th, in the Hague, the Best New Partnership Award 2016 is awarded to the team of MCNV and a.s.r., for the best social project in a developing country.

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Embracing Practices of Inclusion

A new publication by MCNV, Global Initiative on Psychiatry, and World Granny is available:

Download Embracing Practices of Inclusion

Stories of how people in Georgia, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Vietnam made inclusive development happen in their societies.

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Microcredit and income insurance

Microfinance – A sustainable engine for development

Background

Impacts of microfinance to the poor

Impacts of microfinance to the poor

At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a commitment “to eradicate poverty everywhere, in all its forms and dimensions by 2030”. Inspired from this goal, all MCNV programs in Vietnam are committed to contribute to poverty alleviation efforts by integrating microfinance tools to support marginalized groups who are normally the poorest in their community. Over the past 10 years, MCNV has disbursed micro finance services including loans for production and water retention, savings, and health insurance, to more than 7000 households with the total value of more than 650,000Euro in programs in Vietnam.

Microfinance has proved to be one of the most powerful engines in the global effort to end the crushing poverty that deprives hundreds of millions of the world’s people of sustenance and hope. Microfinance gives poor people the opportunity to establish an existence and to create a future with prospects.

MCNV loan allow her to build water containers to save rain water to prepare for draught and salinity

MCNV loan allow her to build water containers to save rain water to prepare for draught and salinity

Micro loans, saving and other financial services in combination with financial literacy trainings could greatly help the poor start-up their micro-businesses to generate income . This would provide the clients and their families with greater qua
ntities and more nutritious foods, education for their children and to the opportunity to improve their houses. Consequently, microfinance has an impact on the future generations.

Microfinance has a positive impact far beyond the individual household. Jobs are created, knowledge is shared, civic participation increases, and women are recognized as valuable members of their families and communities. Microfinance could also improve the community solidarity and connection between people.

An equally important part of microfinance is the revolving mechanism in using funds from donors so if microfinance is managed well, it could allow a certain amount of funding to serve more and more poor families. These funds would be more beneficial longer term so the impacts will be multiplied in comparison with other kind of development grants.

An extreme poor old lady received a friendship house built from MCNV microfinance projects in Ben Tre 2015

An extreme poor old lady received a friendship house built from MCNV microfinance projects in Ben Tre 2015

Micro-entrepreneurship is the key for the poor’s self-empowerment. It turns the poor from a passive and weak role in the development process to active agents of change. The personal talents and community support are fully mobilized for business development and this process is the best capacity building for those who are poor. Microfinance directly impacts and benefits women’s empowerment since microfinance particularly focus on women and gradually consolidates the role and capacity of women in family and in the community.

Future plan

In recent decades, the microfinance crises have showed that microfinance could harm the development if being used in an extreme way. So MCNV is making its effort to balance the social and financial performance of microfinance projects by using Social Performance Management (SPM) system. Applying the SPM permits microfinance assist the poor to escape poverty while ensuring the whole microfinance system runs as healthy as a double bottom-line financial institute.

MCNV also wants to share and expand the best practice in microfinance and social performance management to other organizations and communities. We look forward to like-minded partners and donors to promote the real microfinance with focus on social performance and sustainability.

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Development of occupational therapy in Vietnam

Background

Rehabilitation has been developed in Vietnam for more than 40 years; it is still a big gap of Occupational Therapy (OT) development. The main rehabilitation practice in Vietnam is Physical Therapy (PT), yet there are currently no qualified occupational therapists in Vietnam. OT services are provided by physiotherapists with minimal clinical training in OT, or by occupational therapists from other countries who come for short periods. It is only available in a few large hospitals. Specific OT services were unavailable for mental rehabilitation, elder care, home-based care, school-based services for children with special needs, etc. The faculty (PT and Rehabilitation doctors) may not be well-equipped to teach OT in depth, due to lack of experience, equipment, and resources, limited information from books, especially those written in English. In addition to the lack of qualified OT doctors, those qualified with Masters to teach OT are not available in Vietnam. The participants of OT training survey were of the unanimous opinion that OT education needs to be commenced in Vietnam.

Being aware of the fact that OT is essential to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services, the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s orientation of rehabilitation development up to year 2020 stated that OT is one of specialized fields in rehabilitation. It is obligatory to establish Occupational Therapy Departments in Rehabilitation Hospitals as well as Provincial General Hospitals.

MCNV’s responses

In October 2015, MCNV received a fund from USAID to run a 5 – year project of OT training development in Vietnam. The project’s goal is to create the foundation and necessary conditions in order to develop the training system of professional OT in Vietnam, including the provision of OT trainers, competency-based training curriculum and OT-related policies. Specific objective of this project as follows:

  • To develop a group of capable OT trainers in HMTU and UMP HCMC.
  • To develop a 4-year competency-based OT curriculum at a regional level.
  • To pilot an OT Bachelor training course in HMTU and UMP HCMC
  • To set up two OT units for practicing during training procedure.

To implement this project in the context of having no OT experts and trainers, MCNV already approached School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University (SOAHS – MU), India to ask for technical support during the project implementation. Two universities in Vietnam were involved in this project including Hai Duong Medical Technical University (HMTU) and University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City (UMP HCMC). The project has also received strong supports from Administration of Medical Service and Administration of Science Technology and Training, MoH.

Achievements so far

After almost one year conducting the project, the following results have been achieved:

  • Sending a group of 4 or more trainers from HMTU and UMP HCMC to one-month orientation course on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 5 Physical Therapists to an English course and Bachelor of OT course (BOT) in SOAHS – MU.
  • Sending a group of 6 key persons from MoH, HMTU, UMP HCMC and MCNV to the study tour on OT in SOAHS – MU.
  • Develop the BOT program outlines for full-time and part-time training courses
  • Develop the Syllabus of part-time BOT program which will be piloting at HMTU and UMP HCMC in year 2017.

In the coming years, MCNV will continue to run the program as planned to reach all objectives.

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Mental Health

Mental Health (MH) disorders significantly contribute to the worldwide burden of diseases. The health services and policies in Vietnam pay only limited attention to MH.

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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

Biogas

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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Huyen Hoang appointed Board of Director

The Supervisory Board of MCNV is pleased to inform you that as of July 1, 2019, Ms Huyen Thi Hoang is appointed as Board of Director of MCNV and as of that date the Board of Director and the staff of the Amsterdam office will be fully operational again.
Together with the other members of the Management Team (country director Lao PDR Rebecca Derry and country director Viet Nam Pham Dung), she will be responsible for the organization.
With this appointment the transition period will come to an end by the first of July 2019 and the Supervisory Board will resume its responsibilities. We are looking forward to a prosperous cooperation.

Ms Marijke Postma – Rustenhoven
Chair of the Supervisory Board

 

Huyen Thi Hoang

I studied my bachelor degrees in Hanoi, Vietnam (English and Law) and a Master degree (applied anthropology) in London, UK. Between 1993 and 2013, I worked with several international NGOs in Vietnam through which I gained extensive experience in management, in research, and in program implementation concerning health, education, protection and social inclusion involving vulnerable groups of people including children, street youth, ethnic minority people, women, drug users, sex workers, MSM, transgender and others.

In 2013, my (Dutch) husband and I decided to relocate to the Netherland for our now teenage children’s further education. During the period 2013 – 2018, I served as co-founder, management board member and part-time research investigator for the Center for Applied Research on Men and Health (CARMAH), a Vietnamese NGO that implements and evaluates evidence-based health interventions for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Vietnam. In 2016, I started to work as volunteer with MCNV in the Amsterdam office for 2 days a week. Since 2017, I have worked 3 days a week with MCNV as senior program advisor, focusing on institutional acquisition and program management.

I’m looking forward to working closely with MCNV’s management team members and other colleagues in Amsterdam, Vietnam and Laos to bring forward continuity and achievement of MCNV’s strategy.

 

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New project on the realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities (PWD)

On June 28 2019, at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Hanoi, the Embassy and MCNV signed the official contract on the “Realization of land use rights for ethnic minority people with disabilities (PWD) in Dakrong and Huong Hoa districts, Quang Tri province”. This project is under the Accountability Fund supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The project will be implemented in 18 months, focusing on the issue of land use rights for PWD in two poor mountainous districts of Quang Tri province – Dakrong and Huong Hoa. The main objectives of the projects are: 1/ to facilitate stakeholders in certifying land use right certification and providing lands for housing and production for PWD in Huong Hoa and Dakrong districts; 2/ to include PWD into the provincial policy No. 10/2018 on supporting lands and land use right certification for the ethnic minority poor and the poor living in extremely disadvantaged areas; 3/ to increase awareness of PWD on land use rights, related policies, services and procedures to access these rights; and 4/ to improve organizational capacity for Quang Tri Disabled People Organization (DPO) in advocacy and land use right for PWD in the province.

Through this project, MCNV expects to support local partners to make efforts in lobbying and advocacy to improve the situation of the land use right. The key partner of MCNV in this project is the Quang Tri DPO, which includes the Association of PWD, Agent Orange Victims, and Sponsorship for PWD and Child Rights Protection of Quang Tri Province.

Represented in the contract signing were Ms. Anouk Baron, Second Secretary on Political, Press and Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of the Netherlands, and Mr. Pham Dung, MCNV Vietnam Country Director.

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