Meeting with community leaders
One of our favourite project stories from the last few months was during a visit to our pilot project site in Thai Nguyen province (just under two hours’ drive from Hanoi).
We spent the morning meeting with provincial city government officials, most of whom we had met before, and discussed some technical details of the project, training strategies and other project plans. We also distributed a questionnaire to capture their understanding of their training needs (a critical part of the process to help tailor our training programme for the Vietnamese cultural and political context, as well as measure knowledge and attitude change over time).
After lunch we then headed out into a ‘commune’ of Thai Nguyen where we met with about 20 community leaders (all women). These upstanding citizens, earning just US$5 a month, play an important role in the health of their communities by championing the government’s social initiatives by scooting around neighbourhoods on their mopeds to make home visits, help administer social support, and meet regularly to feedback on local developments.
We enjoyed an extremely informal atmosphere as we shared about the project plans and listened to their thoughts and ideas, much of which was accompanied with anecdotes and jokes! As we walked out of the building where we met, one of the ladies in the group turned to Thomas and said enthusiastically and convincingly:
“Don’t worry, you can bring all the children to us, we’ll look after them!”
It was a touching moment, so we insisted on having a photograph taken with her (second from the left)!
Much of our work at the beginning of this project has been focussed on high-level government meetings, developing and approving work plans, and conducting research, which is all very necessary to establish the best possible foundations onto which the project can be built. But it was very encouraging and inspiring when, at the grassroots level, we were reassured by some of the people who will be on the frontline of the work that we had their full support. With all the strategic planning in the world, if the heart and compassion was missing at this level, the project would never get off the ground!
Once again, thank you for your support and staying connected to our work!