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.

Land Mine/UXO Education Education and Awareness Project

During the past eleven years, VNAH has been providing prosthetic/orthotic devices and wheelchairs to disabled people in virtually every province and major city of Viet-Nam.  This is evidence of the prolonged tragedy of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in this poor country.  According to Viet-Nam’s 1999 Government statistics, approximately 40,000 people have been killed by landmines/UXO since the 1975 end of the war, and an additional 70,000 people have been injured.  The numbers continue to increase yearly. In our outreach missions to provide prosthetic and orthotic services, VNAH often encounters significant numbers of new landmine/UXO injured victims in need of assistance. 

In April 2002 VNAH signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Thanh Hoa and Quang Binh Provinces to implement a two-year project.  The primary objectives of this initiative are to help reduce future casualties and
disabilities caused by landmine/UXO accidents through a focused awareness and education program.

Focuses of the projects are: to improve the local capacity to deal with the problem; to conduct a baseline data survey; to carry out awareness activities; and to assist victims.  VNAH will work extensively with relevant authorities, agencies, mass organizations and landmine victims to insure quality results for the projects.

A Message to Colleagues and Supporters

Two Important Events Shape Fall Agenda for VHAH/HealthEd

Dear Supporters and Friends,

This Fall 2002 Newsletter is highlighting the breadth and depth of the activities of Viet Nam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH) and Health and Education Volunteers (HealthEd). As you will see they range from promoting policies at the highest levels of government to providing safe, clean drinking water to extremely poor ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.

Our ability to design and implement these projects is only possible through the combined efforts of many dedicated individuals. This includes our Boards of Directors who have, over the years, pro-vided me with sage advice and counsel as well as the encouragement and support needed when difficulties arose.

The VNAH and HealthEd staffs in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and McLean, Virginia have consistently managed to guide our numerous programs and the countless details associated with each.  None of this would be possible without the generous assistance of our donors. These include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the US Department of Labor, the Freeman and Nippon Foundations, and the many wonderful individuals who directly contribute to our projects. I am extremely grateful to each and every one of you for your interest and your support. We also need to thank the Vietnamese Government for their cooperation and support as well. Our good working relationship with key agencies is crucial to our success.

I am excited to call your attention to two important events that VNAH and HealthEd will be supporting in the coming weeks. The first is our work to assist Viet Nam draft and put into practice a new nongovernmental organizations law.  Such a law would encourage the formation, in Viet Nam, of non-governmental organizations capable of providing assistance directly to the needy population. 
Working with the newly formed Vietnamese Ministry of Homeland Affairs, VNAH will assist in a key workshop held in Phan Thiet in early November. This workshop was to assess and assist efforts to draft a Vietnamese NGO law and provide opportunities for Vietnamese at all levels to better understand the great advantages such non-profit activities. Soon , we will be arranging a study tour in the United States for those in Viet Nam with prime responsibility for the drafting and implementation of this new NGO law. VNAH will work with the International Center for Non-Profit Law; long considered to be the leading international NGO in this field.

The second new activity is a Congressional Reception to be held on December 5th on Capitol Hill. The theme for this reception is “Breaking Barriers in Viet Nam.” For all too long, barriers have blocked people with disabilities from fully participating in social and economic mainstream activities. These barriers include a lack of educa-tion and training, prejudice, stereotyping and simply an inability to access schools, transportation, markets and other facilities. Too often, such barriers are due to or made worse by a lack of money to buy a prosthetic device or a suitable wheelchair. 

The reception will enable VNAH and HealthEd to publicly thank those in the Congress and the Executive Branch who have supported our efforts over the years. It will also allow VNAH and HealthEd to provide an up-date on recent progress and up-coming efforts to overcome new challenges and barriers. I hope you will all be able to attend this exciting Capitol Hill event on Dec. 5th.

Let me rededicate myself to our important works and invite you to join in our activities in this coming New Year.  Together, we can do even more in reaching back to help those in need, and see them get up on their feet to help their families and others.

Ca Van Tran