MCNV

Unveil the potential of nature

Recently, the Medical Committee Netherlands – Vietnam (MCNV) has provided supports for a number of households in Chenh Venh village (Huong Phung commune), Cu Bai village (Huong Lap commune) and Ta Puong village (Huong Viet commune) to produce made-from-bamboo products to supply for domestic and overseas markets.

This is one of the initiatives to encourage consumers to switch from using plastic to environment-friendly products, and at the same time, creating the opportunities for livelihood improvement for people of Van Kieu and Pa Co ethnic minorities in Quang Tri province.

The products being produced in these localities are as diverse as straws, pen case, travel utensils case, candle holders, with materials sourcing from local forests.

Local worker makes bamboo candle holder using machine provided by MCNV. Photo: Nguyen Thanh Tung

According to MCNV, 10 households in Chenh Venh village are making bamboo straws. In 2019, they produced around 50,000 straws, sold at the price of VND 1,000- 3,000/per unit, generating the revenue of VND 100 million (equal to VND 10 million/household).

Len Xanh is one of the various types of bamboo found in the mountainous district of Huong Hoa. Growing wildly on ravine, nearby high waterfalls, Len Xanh can only be harvested when it is mature enough. Normally, one tree can provide 5-8 stalks/year, each stalk comprises of 7 to 10 nodes, each node is from 20 to 25 cm long.

After being harvested, the stalks are cut to a length of 18-23 cm, before 5-6 hours of disinfection by boiling, and later wiping away residual impurities.
In the next 7 to 8 days, the straws are dried under the sun. The final step is shaping the straw by sanding down the edges.

Ms.Ho Thi Xang standing by a pot boiling bamboo straws.
Photo: Phan Tân Lâm

According to Ms. Ho Thi Xang, member of a production group in Chenh Venh village, her family is expecting to increase their income by bamboo straw making.

They used to earn their living by working in the forests on their own or hired by others as seasonal workers. Despite their hard work, Xang and her husband still struggled to make end meets. Since their kids were born and needed round-the-clock care, Xang had to stay home. All of the livelihood burden was hence put on her husband’s shoulder, pushing the family deeper into poverty.

Ms.Ho Thi Xang (right) and Ho Thi Ly, two of the ten members of the bamboo production group in Chenh Venh hamlet, Huong Phung commune. Photo: Nguyen Thanh Tung

“Making bamboo straws requires high level of patience and meticulousness. In order to come up with qualified products that meet the standard of hygiene, size and appearance, you have to follow closely every step. Nevertheless, as long as you put enough efforts in the work, you’ll quickly get used to it and be able to earn stable income every month”, Xang said with excitement.

Bamboo straw making not only opens a new path of livelihood for local residents, but also benefits the community in another way as it takes the men away from alcoholic addiction. They are now busier with the work of harvesting the materials from the forests.

According to Mr. Ho Van Noi, a resident in Chenh Venh village, the men can make use of their time of working in the forest to harvest len xanh, and craft bamboo straws during their idle time. It is estimated that in each household two people are taking part in the production of bamboo straws. However, due to the scarcity of len xanh in the nature and the danger of the harvesting process, people are facing challenge in ensuring sufficient materials for production.

The community is therefore looking forward to receiving more supports from the authorities and functional agencies to expand the plantation of len xanh, in order to meet with production demand.

At the same time, MCNV is supporting 3 production groups in three villages to diversify their products and materials and build drying houses, and providing machinery and technical training for core members.

Their products now range from pen case, candle holders, travel utensil case. The making of these handicraft demands much dedication, however it pays off, as these products capture the attention of customers, especially overseas tourists.

At the moment, Hoi An Roastery, a company owning eleven cafes located in the tourism city of Hoi An, Quang Nam province is the distributor of these products. In the future MCNV will help the production groups to increase connection with domestic and international markets. Together with production, they are also paying attention to developing plantation zone of material, especially len xanh on nearby hills.

Vocation training in Huong Viet commune (Photo: Lê Minh Vũ)

Currently, 20 households in Huong Phung, Huong Viet and Huong Lap village are taking part in bamboo handicraft work. This is a practical vocation to increase income while contribute to the development of environmentally-friendly production market.

Bamboo straws in the hands of daughter of a production group member in Chenh Venh hamlet, Huong Phung commune. Photo: Phan Tan Lam

“In the time to come, we will help expand the material plantation, diversify the products, improving crafting skills, product quality and widen the market network”, says an MCNV project coordinator.

With dedication and hard work, more and more bamboo are turned into delicate products, while the farmers are becoming skillful artisans, and getting closer to a bright future.

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Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam contributes to COVID-19 fight in Quang Tri

(VNT) – The Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) presented assistance totaling VND 13 million (USD 558) to the central province of Quang Tri to help them effectively fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several MCNV’s projects are being carried out in Huong Hoa district (Quang Tri), adjacent to the Vietnam – Laos border. Due to heavy traffic across the border lines, the locality is at high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Strengthening border security is one of the key measures adopted by local authorities in order to eliminate this risk.

Recently, a donation of VND 12 million (USD 515) was handed to two border guard posts in Huong Hoa district. The cash was spent on necessity supplies for the teams such as vitamin C effervescent drink, dried food, drinking water and instant coffee.

At the same time, responding to the call for supports of Quang Tri province, MCNV Central Vietnam office donated VND 1 million (USD 43) to the province via the provincial Department of Foreign Affairs.

Founded on November 18, 1968 by a team of dedicated Dutch doctors, MCNV aimed to deliver the aid from Netherland to Vietnam, to support the country’s resistant war through the sponsorship of medical supplies, hospital building, tuberculosis, malaria prevention, etc.

MCNV has diversified its fields of operation, together joining hands with Vietnam in developing the country’s economy with various projects in improving the livelihood of people in poor regions, gender equality, rehabilitation for the handicapped, reproductive health education, among others.

In 2018, MCNV marked its memorable 50th birthday with the fourth time receiving the Friendship Order of the State President to acknowledge the organization’s contribution to Vietnam in the last five decades./.

(Hannah Nguyen – The Vietnam Times)

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Guidance on stopping the spread of COVID-19

Vietnam’s latest guidance on stopping the spread of COVID-19 is now available in English.

Issued by the Ministry of Health of Vietnam on March 19, the series gives detailed instruction on self-isolation, centralized-isolation and preventative measures.

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Zoom in on a life-changing project in Binh Dai (Ben Tre province)

In over the last 10 years, in Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province, there is a project that has been providing life-changing instrument for thousands of women to rise against poverty…

From poverty to financial independence

In the past, Ms. Truong Thi Phuong (born in 1972) and her husband, residents of Phu Thanh Hamlet, Phu Vang Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre province used to made a living out of a small vegetables garden and some seasonal jobs, which generated a modest amount of income.

Despite being diligent, they still struggled to make ends meet. When their children got into college, the couple were over the moon but also extremely worried. The kids would have a brighter future than their parents but how could they manage to pay for their four-year tuition fees and other expenses in the city.

Ms.Truong Thi Phuong and her grocery store.

Phuong’s family life came to a turning point in 2015, when she became member of the Women Union of Phu Vang Commune and began to get accesss to the Micro Credit and Saving project, implemented by the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) and sponsors.

With the loan provided by the project, Phuong and her husband shortly sleeved up to find their ways out of poverty. Part of the cash was spent on poultry rearing, while the rest was invested in launching a small grocery store.

“At the beginning, due to my lack of experiences, we faced a lot of challenges”, Phuong recalled.

Fortunately, thanks to active participation in science and technology transfer workshops held by local Women Union, Phuong and her husband soon acquired fundamental knowledges in farming as well as doing business. Step by step, their ‘startup’ started to yield profits, providing a stable source of income, and at the same time, could be used as capital to feed new investment.

After several microcredit cycles, following the advices of project staff and the senior members of local Women Union, Phuong bought a cow which later gave birth to two calves. After deducting all costs of rearing, they earned around VND tens million annually.

Since the rearing was not time-consuming, Phuong’s husband spent the rest of his day on some part-time jobs such as bricklaying, fishing, which earned him VND few hundred thousand per day.

After 5 years of participating in the Micro Credit and Saving project of Binh Dai district, Ms. Truong Thi Phuong and her husband have filed for crossing their name in the poor households list.

From the bottom where the couple could not make ends meet, now they have secured stable and sufficient income. As the two children have graduated from colleges and have found jobs, the family is free from worries about livelihoods. Their old wobbly house has been renovated into a fully furnished one.

Phuong also has more time for community activities. She is very enthusiastic about sharing her experience in doing business with her neighbors, fellows, and lending supports to those in need.

“‘A stitch in time saves nine’, more than anyone, I understand what it is like to live in poverty. At the moment, I am willing to help anyone in need”, she said.

Striving from the bottom, she is always grateful for what the Micro Credit and Saving project and her fellows have done to support her.

Freshwater security against salinity

Ben Tre is severely affected by saline intrusion. Illustration photo: VNA

Located in the Mekong delta region, Ben Tre is severely affected by saline intrusion. Even local water plants are affected with salinity of 2 grammes.

Located on an islet, Binh Dai district’s four sides were surrounded by rivers and seas, making the area more vulnerable to saline intrusion (high salinity, deep intrusion level). Local residents are facing huge challenges as saline intrusion negatively affected agricultural production and daily life.

In the fierce battle against salinity, Binh Dai district was lucky enough to receive aid from the Micro Credit and Saving project. Along with providing loans to support livelihoods, the project has also assisted poor, nearly poor, and disadvantaged households to build water containers and purchase rainwater and freshwater storing tanks for daily life and production.

Ms.Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh and her water container.

“In 2016, I registered for a loan of VND five million to build two 4m3 water containers; the costs for materials and workers was around VND six million …” , said Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Oanh (Tan Long hamlet, Thanh Phuoc commune).

According to Oanh, thanks to the project, her family could store enough freshwater to use for the whole year. In the dry season, the family consume more well water therefore they always have extra stock of rainwater.

Being aware of the benefit in the long run, in 2018, Oanh continued to take a new loan of VND five million to build two 6m3 water containers, the two cost around VND seven million.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao (born in 1985) lives in Vinh Tan hamlet, Vang Quoi Dong commune is another beneficiary of the project. Thank to the 6m3 rainwater, freshwater container, her three-member family now can feel secured during drought season.

 “Because saline intrusion occurs every year, I decided to build container to store rainwater or freshwater for daily use. In 2016, I filed for a VND five million in 24 months to build two containers. I was thrilled as they were so helpful. Without them, we would have had to use saltwater like the previous years, which negatively affects sanitation. I am going to borrow some more to build another two containers. If salinization persists, I am afraid that there will not be enough freshwater…” 

  • 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.
  • The project has so far provided 954 households with loan to construct their own water containers. From the beginning of the year, 149 households have received the supports, leading to more registration for loan. 
  • 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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