Can Tho Center
VNAH received the first humanitarian grant from the Freeman Foundation of Stowe, Vermont, to provide prosthetics and orthotics devices to war victims in the Mekong Delta region. For the first time, together with the ongoing support from USAID to provide artificial limbs and braces to the disabled poor in the south of Vietnam, the Freeman Foundation’s grant enabled VNAH to work with the Can Tho Center to meet head-on the goal of providing artificial limbs to all amputees in the Mekong Delta region. Nineteen ninety-seven also marked the beginning of what was to be a major shift of emphasis by VNAH from the provision of technical assistance to the development and implementation of a national policy framework that would in turn help the disabled participate more fully in the life of the nation. This is an ongoing goal for VNAH. VNAH’s policy work has been primarily supported by USAID, while the Freeman and Nippon foundations continue to fund programs for direct assistance to persons living with disabilities. VNAH partnered with the U.S. President’s Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities to stage Vietnam’s first National Conference and Workshop on Disability Policy in October. Funded by USAID, the conference brought together representatives from major cities and provincial governments from across the country, as well as ministerial level leaders and both local and international NGOs to exchange ideas and emphasize the enormous need for assistance programs. As a result of VNAH’s efforts, the Ministry of Construction issued a ruling calling for all architectural plans for new buildings to include provisions for accessibility.