Disaster Relief

Over the past three years, the Central region of Viet Nam has suffered the worst floods in a century.  Hundreds of lives were lost.  Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and millions of acres of crops were destroyed.   In responses to these disasters, VNAH and its sister organization, Health and Education Volunteers (HealthEd)  reached out to the Vietnamese-American community to help.  Our community responded and supported this effort very generously. 

With the funds collected VNAH and HealthEd delivered more than 60 tons of rice and a 40-foot container of relief and medical supplies to the hardest hit victims in Hue, Da Nang and Quang Nam Provinces.  In addition, in the areas suffering the greatest damage we have built two elementary schools.

Rural Development

Helping Ethnic Minorities in the Central Highlands

VNAH and HealthEd recognize that the ethnic minority population concentrated in the Central Highlands are among the poorest and most in need of assistance of any group in Viet-Nam. They often lack adequate schools, health clinics, or means to earn a living wage. Few outside donors or international non-governmental organizations operate in these areas. These are the reasons VNAH and HealthEd have decided to work closely with the local provincial departments of labor, invalids and social affairs to provide assistance to the ethnic minority populations.  Direct contributions have been the principal source permitting VNAH and HealthEd to address these concerns.  With the assistance and cooperation of the local authorities, VNAH and HealthEd have recently provided 10 computers to the boarding high school, completed a midwife training program, a new kindergarten, and several water wells.

Midwife Training

The midwife training course is a joint project of HealthEd and the Medical School of the Kon Tum Province Department of Health. The course provides thirty ethnic minority village healthcare workers in the Province with basic knowledge of health care, hygiene, pre and post-natal care, delivery procedures, and nutrition.

The village healthcare workers who participated in the training course were from remote mountainous villages where health care facilities, medical skills, and medicine are scarce.  The indigenous women depend on midwives at the time of birth.  There is a high infant mortality rate in the region since few, if any, of the traditional midwives have had any formal medical training.  The issue is further complicated by a lack of health care facilities, medical skills, and medicines.

During a brief completion ceremony last October, HealthEd provided each trainee a first-aid kit of medical supplies consisting of a scale, stethoscope, scissors, bandages and other basic sterile instruments.

Schools Opening in Khe Sanh and Nui Thanh

HealthEd and VNAH provided funding and coordination in the construction of two elementary schools during the past summer.  Both were turnkey projects and provide a place of education for over 800 students from 6 – 13 years of age.

The Tich Tay Elementary School in Nui Thanh district, Quang Nam Province, was delivered to local education authorities in August 2002.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place with the participation of local officials and Mr. Nghiem Xuan Tue, Vice Director of the International Relations Department of the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

The second school was completed and delivered on October 3, 2002. The Tan Hop Elementary School in Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province (DMZ) will serve more than 400 children, about 35% of whom are ethnic minorities.  The school has a large playground and a barrier-free access ramp for children with disabilities.   
The U.S. Ambassador to Viet-Nam, Mr. Raymond Burghardt, joined with local officials and the representative from MOLISA, Mr. Nghiem Xuan Tue, Vice Director of the International Relations Department, at the ribbon cutting ceremony. 

Ambassador Burghardt and the American Chamber of Commerce in Ha Noi have contributed $1,500 to VNAH/HealthEd to construct a well on the school’s property to provide clean water for the children. 

Portable Water and Improved Education for Ethnic Minorities

To promote better health and education of ethnic minorities VNAH and HealthEd donated ten computers to Kon Ray Boarding High School, constructed ten village water supply systems and a kindergarten school in the mountainous Kon Tum Province villages of Ngoc Tem and Dak Rve. 

Each new water system includes a well, an electric pump, and a storage tank. The ten wells will benefit over 1,000 people. The wells will provide safe clean drinking water to these communities, thus reducing the threat of waterborne diseases.

In September 2002, VNAH & HealthEd funded a kindergarten, which will serve approximately 50 children from Dak Rve Commune. This school will be supplied with a well water system, teaching aids and toys.



VNAH has distributed over 3,000 wheelchairs to the most severely disabled across the country.  High priority categories for the receipt of wheelchairs have been double amputees, students crippled by polio and other severely disabled persons who are able to navigate a wheelchair.  We are particularly pleased with the important strides we have made in quality of wheelchairs manufactured in Viet Nam. With a special grant from The Freeman Foundation, VNAH has provided technical assistance to both government-owned and private wheelchair manufacturers in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta in their design and production of wheelchairs.  Under this special grant, VNAH will be able to deliver over 6,000 quality wheelchairs to amputees in Central region of Vietnam.  These manufacturers are now able to produce a high quality wheelchair at a relatively low price.

This is a wheelchair that benefited with some features from the design by Whirlwind Wheelchair International (WWI) and Viet Nam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) for conditions in Southeast Asia; similar to those found in Viet Nam.  The wheelchair has a rigid frame and solid rubber tires.  It is being tested by the US Veteran Administration Research and Development Center in Pittsburgh, PA.  It also has been field tested and proven to operate well under local conditions and to be popular with the user.  To be included in VNAH’s program, the manufacturers must accept and observe the VNAH specifications.

To date, VNAH provided wheelchairs have been delivered to poor beneficiaries in the Central and Southern regions of Viet Nam. With some expansion of this program and more actual experience it seems perfectly feasible for us to help facilitate the manufacture of economical, high quality wheelchairs for private sector sales in Viet Nam and elsewhere in South East Asia.

The Freeman Foundation Helps VNAH Care for War and Landmine Survivors

Since January 2002, over 2500 wheelchairs and tricycles chairs were donated to severely disabled war victims.

Since January 2002, over 2500 wheelchairs and tricycles chairs were donated to severely disabled war victims.

The Freeman Foundation has continued to support VNAH’s wheelchairs and prosthetic and orthotic program in the southern region of Viet-Nam.  This region has a large population of war and landmine survivors who are still isolated.  VNAH’s outreach projects deliver much needed wheelchairs and prosthetic/orthotic rehabilitation service to distant districts of Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Ben Tre, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan and Ba Ria provinces.  Since the spring of this year, VNAH has delivered over 2,500 wheelchairs to landmine victims and people who are severely disabled.

National Policy and Programs for the Disabled

One of the most exciting developments in VNAH’s efforts to assist the disabled is theOffice of Disabilities Technical Assistance (ODTA) in Hanoi.  VNAH, in partnership with the United States President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, has embarked on a program to assist the efforts of the Vietnamese government to improve and update Vietnamese national policies and programs that benefit the disabled. VNAH works with its Vietnamese counterparts has provided technical assistance to support the enactment of that country’s first comprehensive Ordinance on Disabled Persons. 

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development we are now working to provide technical assistance and support to the relevant agencies of the Vietnamese Government for the implementation of priority provisions of that law.  Special attention is being directed to barrier-free access, the employment of people with disabilities and the strengthening of groups of and for the disabled.  We are particularly pleased that John Lancaster, the former Executive Director of the United States President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, has now assumed the position of Director ofthe ODTA, our office in Hanoi that helps guide and coordinate this important effort.