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25th Anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War (30 April 2000)

18 April 2000

For the anniversary, we have put together this description of some of the organisations currently offering practical support to people in Vietnam and Cambodia. If you, or your group, would like to mark this occasion in a positive way, you could perhaps make a donation to one or more of these projects.

  • The New Zealand / Vietnam Women's Project

    The NZ/ Vietnam Women's Project has been running now for about ten years in 13 central and northern mountain provinces where living conditions are difficult. It began solely as an educational programme for mountain women (mainly from ethnic minorities), concentrating on child and maternal health and nutrition. Special emphasis was placed on the management of childhood illnesses and on the `VAC' gardening system which teaches women to grow a range of fruit and vegetables suitable to the areas and with good food values, and to raise pigs, poultry and fish.

    Later, a revolving loan fund was added so the women could put into practice what they had learned, buying fruit trees, seed, fish, piglets, or poultry. This has the added benefit of giving them experience in handling money, repaying loans, and saving for future activities. Loan recipients take part in regular meetings where they are helped with this. The fund is self-sustaining, but at the request of the Vietnam Women's Union the NZ partners have added to it in each two-year phase.

    In each phase of the project more than twice the number of women targeted to take part have in fact participated actively, so that the lessons of health and nutrition have spread far and wide in the target communes and districts. Child malnutrition has declined quite steeply in some areas, less in others. The Vietnam Women's Union, which has 11 million members spread from national level through to villages, has been able to strengthen its work.

    The NZ partners have also provided modern office equipment (a computer, printer and photocopier) which have made a great difference to the workload and efficiency of the Union. In the last phase, village sanitation and hygiene have been added to the educational programme, as it became clear that water-borne diseases could nullify any progress made in child and maternal health.

    The Project has four NZ partners - the Labour Women's Council, Freda Cook Memorial Fund, Christian World Service, and The Suite Shop. They raise funds and the NZ Government VASS has granted a subsidy on all the money raised. We are required to make a detailed report to them.

    Contributions to this very worthwhile project can be sent to: NZ/Vietnam Women's Project, Box 784, Wellington. Please make cheque payable to ‘ The Freda Cook Memorial Fund’.

  • The Cambodia Trust

    Cambodia is a country that has been wracked by wars for several generations. During that time an estimated 11 million land mines were buried in the ground. Removing them is proving an impossible task in much of Cambodia. The mines remain active for many years. They are indiscriminately destructive, killing and maiming soldiers and civilians without distinction. At one stage there were up to 300 new land mine victims per month.

    In 1989 the Cambodia Trust was set up at Oxford University to assist with the problem of land mine victims. In the space of two years 2 limb fitting centres were set up. Since then a further centre was built. These are modern, well equipped facilities which have had a direct input on over 10,000 amputees and their families.

    In 1993 the Cambodia Trust Aotearoa was set up to assist the Cambodia Trust, UK, with the funding of a new school to train Cambodian prosthetists. This School developed into the Cambodia School of Prosthetics and Orthotics. It is now recognised as a learning centre that trains top class prosthetists/orthotists.

    Serious fighting ceased in 1999. Fewer amputee soldiers are coming into the limb fitting centres, but civilian casualties still occur. With the need for fewer prostheses the emphasis has turned producing orthotics for the many victims of poliomyelitis. Until recently there was no immunisation for polio.

    A feature of the CTANZ activities has been the strong links which the Trust has developed with the New Zealand Cambodian communities. Over half the Trustees are Cambodian. The Trust's activities are generously supported by Cambodian people now living in New Zealand, in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

    For further information, or donations, contact Ian Kidman, Cambodia Trust, PO Box 11-576 Wellington. Tel 021 485 251, fax (04) 386 1895, Please make cheque payable to ‘The Cambodia Trust’.

  • Education and training project in Bac Giang

    In the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Giang 65-70% of women of reproductive age are infected with a reproductive tract infection (RTI). They endure pain and discomfort which affects their work and family life.

    RTIs are bacterial infections of the reproductive tract. Many are sexually transmitted but they can also be transmitted through dirty water, badly managed childbirth or unhygienic clinic practice. Without early diagnosis and treatment, RTIs can cause infertility, an increase in the risk of pregnancy complications and cervical cancer.

    FPA International Development is working with the Viet Nam Women's Union, local doctors and health workers on a education and training project to improve the reproductive health of women in the province. The project includes training doctors and health workers to more accurately prescribe treatment; and producing leaflets on possible causes, symptoms and where to get help.

    Please contact us if you would like additional information on the project or the work of FPA International Development. If you would like to support this RTI project, please send your donation to FPA International Development, PO Box 11-515, Wellington. Cheques should be made payable to "NZ Family Planning Association Inc". Thank you.

  • Christian World Service in Cambodia

    Christian World Service is working with partners in Cambodia, committed to ensuring that the poorest Cambodians can participate in their community Church World Service, a sister organisation, has been active in Cambodia since 1979, at first providing basic humanitarian assistance, and gradually moving to long term community development, including demining activity. Access to nutritious food and adequate health care remain the highest priorities. Church World Service continues to work with Cambodians to give voice to their issues and concerns (including strong involvement in the Campaign Against Land mines) and in the management of their own development. Within a much larger programme, Christian World Service is currently funding an animal health and production unit in the Battambang and Banteay Meanchey Provinces, run by Cambodians.

    One of the small groups working to help the poorest members of their society is the Cambodian Christian Women's Association. The women have set up a number of small programmes using their own skills and local knowledge. The women run a small tailoring and weaving course, programmes in literacy and health care and small credit schemes.

    If you would like to contribute to these initiatives or would like more information, please contact Christian World Service, P O Box 22 652, Christchurch. Tel (03) 366 9274, Please make cheque payable to ‘Christian World Service’

Thanks to Cath Kelly, Gillian Davies, Gillian Southey and Ian Kidman for assistance in putting this together.

Sign-on message to the US government 'A Call to Remember' (from the Vietnam Peace 25th Anniversary Committee in the US).

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