Australian Union Aid Abroad Creates Bright Futures in Vietnam

17 Jun

In 2009 Alex and I were active members of the Canberra and Region Union Aid Abroad Activist Group. We are proud of the great work we did to raise funds to support APHEDA projects and to increase awareness about the struggles overseas workers face in our region.

In May this year we had the privilege of visiting APHEDA Projects in Vietnam that we raised money to support. We were both blown away by the great work that APHEDA is doing to support workers, including women workers, in Vietnam and inspired to continue our efforts to support APHEDA projects.

The Bright Future Club that we visited in Hai Duong Province has been functioning since April 2006. The Club aims to provide a range of support to sufferers of HIV / AIDS and their families.

Monthly meetings held at the Terri Daktyl Club House answer questions Club members, which include suffers and their families, have about the disease. This helps to reduce the stigma attached to the HIV / AIDS sufferers in Vietnam and helps sufferers to be accepted by their families and communities. The Club also provides advice to members about how they can limit further infection, including specific training for women about avoiding the infection of their children.

We were lucky to have the chance to talk to the Director of this Club and two Club members newly-diagnosed as HIV Positive. They told us that the friendship and emotional support the Club provides them with is very important to them. The Club also provides HIV / AIDS sufferers with information about medicines that will increase their quality of life and life expectancy, which is currently on average only two years after diagnosis.

There are 500 of these Clubs in Vietnam, of which APHEDA supports three in Hai Duong Province and five in the Bac Kan Province. International aid organisations are also partners in this projec t.

In addition to this grass roots level work, the Project also produces propaganda about HIV / AIDS to address the misconceptions about the disease that exist in Vietnam and reduce its transmission. Alex and I both thought that the materials we saw, with its bright colours and cartoons, were very accessible to young people.

We asked the Club Director and APHEDA Project Officers what they would do if they had additional resources available. They told us that even small amounts of additional funding could be used to by petrol to transport members to meetings at the Club and provide them with lunch to increase access to this service. Additional funding would also make it possible for representatives from the Club to conduct community outreach work.

We also visited the Hai Duong Women’s Union’s March 8 Employment Centre, which has hosted other Australian friends of APHEDA in recent years. The Centre is named for International Women’s Day and administers a number of projects to help women workers through its Women’s Union networks which extend right down to the village level. One such Project rehabilitates local women who were trafficed to China into sex work and forced marriages. The Centre helps these women in a number of ways, including providing them with vocational training so they find work and be able to support themselves and their children.

We had the pleasure of meeting the President of the Womens Union, who was surprised that we don’t have a women’s union in Australia! We discussed the Unions work to increase the participation of Women in the Political system, which incorporates supporting women candidates in Provincial and National Government elections and encouraging women to vote for these women candidates. This work reminded me of the valuable efforts of Emily’s List in Australia. The Union’s pursuit of equality for women and the grass roots level and at the level of government is sure to improve the rights enjoyed by women workers in Vietnam. I think that we feminists in Australia have a lot to learn from their great work.

We were humbled by the hospitality that our hosts showed us. The APHEDA Hanoi staff provided us with a lovely lunch when we first visited the office, and the March 8 Centre also invited us to a very tasty meal at a local restaurant. I hope that we can show you our hosts the same hospitality if you ever visit Australia.

One Response to “Australian Union Aid Abroad Creates Bright Futures in Vietnam”

  1. Mum June 18, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    Hi Kristie
    It is good to see the benefit of your efforts. It’s also good to see donations going directly to real projects that are getting good results.

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