NGOs in the Netherlands: Assisting the Vietnamese Community

For over 40 years, Dutch NGOs have been active in Vietnam, providing support in areas such as health, education, poverty alleviation, and women's development. Through their efforts, Vietnam has been able to overcome the aftermath of the war, reduce poverty, and make progress towards socio-economic development.

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Netherlands NGOs: Supporting Vietnamese People
The joy of children in difficult circumstances having the support from AI volunteers (Photo: AI)

Messengers of love

Over the years, the children at the Da Nang Red Cross Orphanage and Hoa Mai Vi Thanh Orphanage (located in Hau Giang province) have become well-acquainted with the English lessons taught by Teacher Leslie Palmer. She is one of the volunteers of Activity International (AI) – a Dutch non-governmental organization. Since 2014, AI volunteers have been providing care and assistance to numerous orphans, disabled individuals, and disadvantaged people in Da Nang and Hau Giang. This includes helping them to learn English, teaching them essential life skills, and encouraging them to participate in sports.

In March 2020, the “Building a Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Area” project, powered by AI technology, was launched in Hau Giang. This project cost around VND600 million (US$25,589) and included a physiotherapy room, a rehabilitation room, and a playground, to meet the needs of treatment and comprehensive care of patients at the Hau Giang Social Work Center. The project was put into use to provide better medical services for those in need and is expected to make a positive contribution to the local healthcare system.

In Da Nang, between 2014 and 2019, Artificial Intelligence (AI) facilitated the deployment of over 300 international volunteers to provide assistance to social facilities and schools in need throughout the city.

Volunteers provide vital support for physical and mental health care for patients at social facilities, helping children get acquainted with English and discover new possibilities. They mobilize funding to invest in essential facilities, healthcare, therapeutic activities, and extracurricular education, creating a brighter future for those in need.

Sharing with the press, Dang Van Quoc Viet, head of the AI Program in Vietnam, stated: “We have created a team of international volunteers who regularly assist in alleviating the burden of caregivers. This helps to address the needs of those in disadvantaged positions and also helps to foster a better understanding of Vietnam amongst our international friends.”

Health care for vulnerable people

In addition, MCNV has also supported the training of medical personnel, the construction of medical facilities, the organization of medical research and the development of medical research. MCNV has also provided more than US$35 million for the development of health and medical services in Vietnam.

Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) is the first foreign non-governmental organization to operate in Vietnam during the national liberation war. MCNV supplied medicines and advanced medical equipment to communities that had been severely affected by the war and sent multiple delegations of experts and medical personnel to offer assistance. In addition, MCNV has also supported the training of medical personnel, the construction of medical facilities, the organization of medical research, and the development of medical research. Over the years, MCNV has contributed more than US$35 million to the development of health and medical services in Vietnam.

Netherlands NGOs: Supporting Vietnamese People
MCNV received the Friendship Medal from the President of Vietnam 4 times (Photo: MCNV)

In 1974, MCNV (Mennonite Central Committee Vietnam) successfully mobilized an impressive US$4 million to construct the Dutch Hospital in Quang Tri. Serving the local population for two decades, the hospital was an invaluable source of healthcare for the region. Subsequently, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, MCNV continued to provide invaluable support to the area in the form of various programs, focusing on tuberculosis control, malaria control, and primary health care.

Currently, MCNV has many diverse programs and projects to support the marginalized, including ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, and adolescent girls. These initiatives include providing healthcare to those with disabilities, fostering social inclusion development for children with disabilities, organizing support groups for women and children living with HIV/AIDS, raising awareness about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls, and helping women to implement poverty reduction livelihood programs.

From 2017 to the present, MCNV has increased its financial support for projects in Vietnam’s top priority fields, including climate change adaptation, business growth, and value chains. The organization has carried out activities in 14 provinces and cities across the country. These projects not only serve a medical purpose, but also offer meaningful social integration, awareness-raising, and rights-safeguarding benefits to beneficiaries.

Joint steps to prevent tuberculosis

Coming to Vietnam in the 1990s, the Royal Netherlands Tuberculosis Association (KNCV) has provided extensive support to the country in its efforts to implement effective TB interventions. These interventions have focused on improving diagnosis, providing better care to those suffering from drug-resistant TB, and measuring reductions in TB incidence over time through TB prevalence surveys. Thanks to their invaluable efforts, Vietnam has been able to make significant progress in tackling this global health issue.

Netherlands NGOs: Supporting Vietnamese People
KNCV and Vietnam National Tuberculosis Program signed a cooperation agreement for the period 2016 – 2020 (Photo: KT)

KNCV is supporting Vietnam in scaling up its Programmatic Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (PMDT). This support includes helping the Vietnam National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) develop and implement the second national TB incidence survey. This survey will provide a comprehensive picture of the current TB burden in the country, enabling the NTP to create an effective strategy for eliminating TB in Vietnam and to accurately estimate the cost of interventions.

In this period, KNCV will help Vietnam to achieve the goal of ending TB as a public health problem by 2030.

In 2021-2025, KNCV will collaborate closely with the Vietnam National Tuberculosis Program to support the development and implementation of the National Strategic Plan for TB Control 2021-2025, with a vision of ending the public health problem of TB by 2030. Specifically, KNCV will assist Vietnam in achieving this goal by providing technical expertise and resources throughout the five-year period. Moreover, KNCV will ensure that the strategic plan is effective in achieving its desired outcomes, and that all stakeholders are involved in the implementation. Ultimately, KNCV hopes to contribute to a future where TB can be effectively managed and, eventually, eradicated.

KNCV-funded projects focus on the introduction of novel drugs and regimens, advanced diagnostics, TB infection control, and the development of a comprehensive TB control strategy.

AI, MCNV, and KNCV are three out of twelve Dutch non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are currently operating in Vietnam. Through a variety of projects and programs, these NGOs are helping to promote sustainable development, reduce poverty, and facilitate international integration by providing support to women and children, disadvantaged people, and those in difficult circumstances. Additionally, these organizations are working to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, improve the operational capacity of cooperatives and small and medium enterprises, and protect the environment. Through these initiatives, Dutch NGOs have been able to foster friendship and cooperation between the Vietnamese and Dutch people.

In November 2022, when working with the delegation of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations in the Netherlands, the NGOs of this country appreciated the guidelines and policies to attract aid from Vietnam. The organizations affirmed that they will continue to promote aid activities in Vietnam in the coming time.
Rosie Nguyen