HelpAge International and Vietnam Women’s Union in caring and promoting activities for elderly women
HAI has its headquarter office based in London, UK, and several regional offices (including Asia Pacific office which is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand) with 200 organization members and partners from 90 countries all over the world. HAI’s supporting activities for older people focus on relief emergencies, poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, home and community care, advocacy and capacity building for its members and partners....
The cooperation between HAI and Vietnam Womens’ Union (VWU) has started since 1997. By 2003, HAI has technically and financially supported VWU in implementing 4 micro credit and saving projects in some natural disasters-prone provinces, conducting 10 workshops on awareness raising and training of WU trainersat different levels on community and home care for older women/ HAI has invited VWU to attend a number of meetings, workshops and training courses organized by HAI abroad. Currently, HAI is helping VWU and other organizations in developing 5 project proposals, including two big projects on poverty reduction and decrease of HIV/AIDS impact on older people with the total requested budget up to USD 1,5 million.
HAI is the first international organization providing technical and financial support to VWU in its activities for older people and older women in particular. Before, VWU’s activities for older women were not so systematic and effective due to lack of the required knowledge and skills by VWU staff to work on ageing issues with elder people. Thanks to HAI collaboration, the Union now has a pool of staff with improved knowledge and skills as well as typical sustainable and effective community-based models such as older women’s credit & saving groups, older women’s income generation and healthcare clubs and “Women of Sympathy” clubs to support HIV/AIDS affected older mothers, etc...HAI has helped VWU improve its activities, at both quantity and quality, for older women better, and open up a new direction for the Union in this area. Especially, the recent 9th National Women’s Congress has defined older women as one of the target groups in its development programmes in 2002-2007.
Women’s Union at all levels, especially the national and provincial levels have developed plans of actions and provided a number of responsive activities for older women. A range of IEC activities on roles and status of older people in families and communities as well as provision of necessary knowledge for elder people and their family members on appropriate nutrition, prevention of common diseases or good examples by elder people in various fields.... have been promoted through talks, seminars, training workshops, or integrated in WU’s meetings or broadcasted through local radio and TV programmes, newspapers, women’s newsletters and other mass media. Besides, many micro credit & saving activities for income generation through groups or clubs have been implemented in various provinces of Tien Giang, Phu Yen, Quang Binh, Phu Tho, Bac Giang and Thai Nguyen. Recently, these models have been added with social support and health care for economic empowerment and improvement of quality of life for elder people in Thai Nguyen and Hoa binh. Up to date, about 7,000 elder women are receiving loans from HAI and VWU loan funds. At the same time, VWU’straditional activities for elder women are maintained and promoted, such as Get Togethers, home visits, gifts giving, giving pass-book andwheelchairs, mobilizing supports to build “affection houses”, sponsoring, free health check up and medication... for aged women, especially the lonely, difficult and helpless ones.
Through HAI cooperation, VWU has expanded its partnership with a number of both domestic and international organizations working in this area and accessed to information and knowledge through HAI annual meetings, regional and international forums, meetings, conferences and workshops, including the International NGO Forum in Madrid, April, 2002 which was organized in parallel with the UN Second World Assembly on Ageing.
The VWU highly values HAI pioneer, practical and effective support in the past years, as well as HAI officers for their dedication, commitment and qualification in the field of aging care. It is hoped that the VWU-HAI collaboration will be strengthened and some big project proposals jointly designed by HAI and VWU will get funding and be implemented in order to provide better support for older women and older men in Vietnam.