In 2017, Nguyen Thi Van Anh was selected by Forbes Magazine as one of Vietnam’s 50 most influential women.
In her ten years working in journalism, Van Anh met numerous women in difficult circumstances. Van Anh has never forgotten the words of a sex worker she met: “At that difficult time, if someone had held my hands and gave me an advice, I would never have done this job.”
Van Anh realized that everyone had their own fear. “People often become so weak when they suffer a great misfortune. Many cannot overcome their crisis and they lose their direction in life,” she said.
In the 1990s, there was no organization that supported people in crisis except a column in Phu nu Vietnam (Vietnam Women) newspaper called “Letters to Sister Thanh Tam”. The staff of this column was always overloaded with work so it took a long time for a person to receive a reply, which might have been too late to help them, Van Anh recalled.
That was the reason Van Anh set up Linh Tam Counselling Center in 1997, which operated through the counselling line of the 1008 operator and was considered the first psychological counselling line in northern Vietnam.
In the early days of operation of the center, young Van Anh, who still had limited knowledge and experience in counselling, always felt panic when there was an incoming call, which could be a confession or a terrible secret.
“Urged by my heart, I went on the journey to help disadvantaged people without much experience, but my sincerity and sympathy,” she recalled.
Van Anh’s work was supported by many people who shared the same view on social problems like her and joined her to establish CSAGA in 2001.
Van Anh at a talk on women’s aspirations for business. Photo: Files
Its activities focus on gender and gender equality, gender-based violence prevention, human trafficking, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights and corporal and psychological punishment against children prevention.
–In 2017, Nguyen Thi Van Anh was selected by Forbes Magazine as one of Vietnam’s 50 most influential women.
– In 2008, Van Anh was honored as one of 21 outstanding leaders of the 21st century by Women’s eNews of the US.
The center is one of the co-founders and coordinators of the Domestic Violence Prevention Network in Vietnam (DOVIPNET). It also has a long history of successful cooperation with UN agencies and international NGOs and foundations.
Van Anh operates CSAGA with the guiding principle that: “Goodness is not for destroying evil, but for transforming evil.”
Van Anh said “My view is to even love guilty people”, which has become the philosophy she and her associates follow on their journey to help disadvantage people.