A little less than a year ago, the idea was born to extend our well-established and recognized TB treatment program in India to a new country, Vietnam, after we had already successfully transplanted our model to Cambodia. After almost a year of meetings, discussions, translations, explanations, presentations, fundraising and whatever else is required for such a significant step, the time has arrived that Operation ASHA will finally make the leap to our third country of operations. More specifically, yours truly will relocate to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, during the first week of August to drive the work forward directly on the ground.
Of course, a number of successes were necessary before we were able to take this step, the biggest being the achievement of our minimum fundraising goal for year one. This victory was in part made possible through the fervent support of friends and family, the confidence placed in us by our board of directors and the gracious support of various third-party organizations and donors. In the process, Operation ASHA even managed to reach almost 10,500 unique viewers with a short video/slideshow illustrating the plight of TB in Vietnam - incidentally also placing second in a contest hosted by the company operating the technology platform (sliderocket.com), which further aided our fundraising efforts. However, year two and three funding continue to be outstanding and while we are exploring a few avenues, your support is naturally always appreciated.
Another significant step forward was the verbal agreement between us and the leadership of the Vietnamese National TB Control Program on certain detailed, key requirements within our operating model - all of which were agreed upon in our favor and will represent groundbreaking progress in terms of collaboration between government and NGO, particularly in relation to patient treatment.
Unfortunately, it was not all good news during the past three months. An area previously believed to be well on track - regulatory approval to start operations - has hit a slight road block. This was brought about by the revision of the law governing the presence and operations of foreign NGOs in Vietnam - the law was officially introduced July 1st, 2012, which raised the attestation requirements (i.e., paperwork) for new NGOs looking to start working in Vietnam. As a result, our contract with the government, which previously should have satisfied the regulatory requirements, will need to be reworked. Hence, our anticipated start date has been pushed by 2 months to allow sufficient time to incorporate the incremental requirements.
As mentioned at the beginning, despite this setback things have been moving along nicely and we anticipate to make even better progress once we have hit the ground...running, of course.