American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Vietnam: “Peace envoys” (Part II and end)


“Crying for enemies”
 The first US NGOs in Vietnam is the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) and its mission here is to find American soldiers’ remains that were missing in the Vietnam War. Besides, American veteran also made documentaries, information of Vietnamses soldiers killed in the war who have not been found to be taken home.
 For example: A program entitled “Veterans’ initiatives of VVA” have provided 299 documentaries involving to about 11,000 Vietnamses soldiers who were killed or missed in the war and helped to find 13,000 martyrs’ remains. The participants of VVA so far have special sentiments for Vietnam. They have taken interested in and subscribing for the Vietnamese Agent Orange victims.
 After the diplomatic relations between the two countries were normalized in 1995, there have been more and more US NGOs going to Vietnam for activities such as medicals, education, agriculture, emergency relief… across the country. In general, the US NGOs’ activities have become a special form of people diplomacy. In the medical field, the Atlantic Philanthropies has supported in hospital and clinic construction, improving medical staff’s capacity and conducting specialized researches; organizations such as FHI, MSH, REI, ORBIS have supported for training, transferring technology and exchanging professional experiences.
 About cooperation in solving social problems, organizations such as VNAH, POF have focused on supporting disabled people; Private Agencies Collaborating Together (PACT), Clinton Foundation, Family Health International (FHI360), Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH) have sponsored for personnel in localities and branches in fighting against HIV/AIDS.
 In the filed of social - economic cooperation and development, the World Vision International organization has had the overall development programs with the aim of improving quality life and children caring with the components of livelihoods, education, health care, clean water and sanitation and the similar projects contributing to build new style rural area in Vietnam.
Taking “Vietnamese incense” to the US
 For 30 years (1995-2015), about 300 US NGOs have gone for operations in Vietnam. They have taken breath of the Goddess of Liberty country to Vietnam. Since then, Vietnamese have known a Bobby Muller dropping guns to overcome the “obsessions of war” and physical pain barriers to bring a fresh life for disadvantaged Vietnamese children. Vietnamese people know a resilient Rae Cheney, hiding feeling of utmost pain when she lost her son to sympathize with Vietnamese mothers. She went to Vietnam for bombs and mines clearance, planting trees. And Vietnamese people also know to doctor William P.Magee Jr. mending lips with American technology.
 Not only supporting and cooperating to solve the traditional problems. The US NGOs were also pioneers in the new field in Vietnam, such as the foundations Rockefeller, Environmental Defense, Winrock International in the field of climate change; Green Cities Fund in green growth field; Habitat, VIA, VFP in volunteer field… In particular, the US NGOs are also the bridge for bringing the Vietnamese culture and characteristics to the United States./.
 Facts of American NGOs in Vietnam
- Ten first American NGOs that enter Vietnam after the war: After warring years, many American NGOs began their operation early in Vietnam, with a number making their way to Vietnam in the 1950s. A number of them have now caesed operation in Vietnam, while others remain operational with long-term commitments: Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Church World Services (CWS), Quaker (no longer operational), Pearl S.Buck International (PSBI), Holt International Children’s Services (Holt), World Vision Iternational (WVI), Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), Operation Smile (OS),…
- Grants from American NGOs account for around 50 percent of the total foreign NGO funding earmarked for Vietnam: After the two countries’ diplomatic relation got normalized in 1995, Vietnam has welcomed increasingly more NGOs from the U.S. that operate in various fields including healthcare, education, agriculture, dealing with war consequences, environmental protection and coping with climate change and emerhency aid in many Vietnamese provinces and cities.
Since 1995, the value of annual grants from American NGOs has usually contributed approximately 50 percent of the total foreign NGO funding meant for Vietnam, and is on a steady rise over the years. Grants from American NGOs have scored from US $10 million in 1995 to $125 million in 2014, with half of them intended for the healthcare sector. It can be said that American NGOs are the top organizations when it comes to their aid in building infrastructure and technology for Vietnam’s healthcare sector.
- Honoring American NGOs in Vietnam in 2015: 2015 is a significant year to the diplomatic ties between Vietnam and the U.S. The year marks the 20th anniversary of the two countries’ relationship normalization. On the occasion, the Vietnam Union of Friendly Organizations (VUFO) is planning a number of activities to commemorate the milestone. One of them is organizing a conference which will assess the role played by the American NGOs in the relationship normalization and Vietnam’s socio-economic development. The conference also aims to recognize noted contributions and individuals and present them with merit certificates from the VUFO President.
- The numberous sectors that need sponsorship from American NGOs: Though Vietnam has become a nation with low average incomes, the country still faces many long-running and new hurdles which it is yet to tackle due to its limited resources. The hurdles include: addressing war consequences; building resources; education and vocational training; environmental protection and coping with climate change; green development; and assistance to vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities./.
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