1.In early January 2016 we welcomed intern Ariel Lubin into the CWS Vietnam family. He is studying for a Masters degree in Community Development in Perth, Australia, and in Hanoi to supplement his studies. He will be spending several weeks in the field in remote regions of northern Vietnam, and helping assist us as we expand our sanitation and hygiene projects. He will also be conducting interviews with local residents and government officials, and photographing CWS projects with the intention of composing a short video that documents our work. He is originally from the United States and received a Bachelors of History in Washington D.C. before moving to Australia for graduate studies. He works at Red Cross Australia and is pursuing a career as a development practitioner. He aims to work in rural communities in Southern Asia after completing his degree. He is a studious and interesting addition to our team, and we look forward to helping him on his journey to promote participatory development and contribute to reducing the effects of poverty in lower income countries.
2.Earlier this month (Jan 2016), the CWS Vietnam team traveled to the Phuc Luong and Phu Thinh communes in Thai Nguyen province just north of Hanoi to conduct hygiene and sanitation assessments and organize educational workshops. Our primary goal was to assess hygiene and sanitation conditions in Phuc Luong and Phu Thinh communes, where we plan to expand in 2016, and organize training seminars for upcoming projects in each region. We met with members of the People’s Committee and Women’s Union to determine if these communities could benefit from our sanitation and hygiene programs. We discovered that many residents of both villages are living in unhealthy and unsanitary environments and lack the capacity and resources to improve their conditions. Local committee representatives were extremely receptive and enthusiastic about our prospective program, and anticipate it will be widely welcomed by members of their communities. We are looking forward to moving forward and expanding into the Phuc Luong and Phu Thinh communes, and believe our sanitation program will significantly improve hygienic practices and reduce the community’s vulnerability to sanitation-related illness.
3.In late January 2016 the CWS Vietnam team traveled to Muong Te, a remote, underdeveloped region in north-western Vietnam. We work on a range of projects in several ethnic villages in the neighboring province. Muong Te is among the poorest regions in Vietnam, and beset by extreme weather conditions and cold temperatures that exacerbate poverty and poor hygienic conditions. We are expanding our sanitation and hygiene programs, and hope to build additional garbage removal facilities, school libraries, and water removal systems in Muong Te in future years. During this particular trip we focused on our latrine program. We toured many of our completed projects in Muong Te and conducted exhaustive workshops with the district government to organize and train local leaders on how to build latrines and educate members of the community on effective sanitary and hygienic practices. We also discussed our progress over the past year. The local government and representatives of the Women’s Union are extremely satisfied with the outcome of our work thus far, and we are looking forward to expanding and mainstreaming our program in 2016 to reach a greater number of remote villages in the province.
In January 2016 CWS Vietnam was successful in raising more than EURO 50,000 for school water supplies as part of Tetra-Pak Vietnam’s Christmas donation drive. CWS’s “Cleaner Schools - Healthier Students” project addresses one of our key country program aims: to improve water supply and sanitation conditions in schools and to raise awareness and promote hygienic behaviors among students, their parents and teachers. Tetra-Pak’s donation will directly benefit about 2,400 students and 200+ teachers in eight schools – three kindergartens and five primary schools - in Lang Chanh, a remote district of Thanh Hoa province on the central coast of Vietnam. Thanh Hoa province is the nation’s third largest province and has the highest number of the country’s poorest districts.
In January 2016 CWS and its local partners in Thai Nguyen and Lai Chau provinces have organised the annual planning meetings. These meetings are the chance for different partner agencies and CWS program staff to seat together to discuss detail plans for 2016 project activities.