In post-war Vietnam, even though the economy was destroyed by war and embargo, the couple found the Vietnamese people were friendly and the civil servants worked diligently and with enthusiasm to make the most of very limited resources.
After the visit, Mr. Steve Sherlock established Aid to Southeast Asia (ASA) in order to contribute to the re-construction of Vietnam and promote understanding between thepeople of the two countries. Many Americans, both veterans and non-veterans, have participated in ASA and helped facilitate delivery of humanitarian Aid to the Vietnamese people, who have faced many difficulties.
One of ASA’s primary programs is delivering donated medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics throughout Vietnam. ASA’s initial aid deliveries began while the US embargo was still imposed and Vietnam faced a critical shortage ofmedical supplies and equipment. ASA’s donations during those years include a wide range of items such as, operating tables, examining tables, operating room lights, hospital beds, syringes, stethoscopes, bandages and rubber gloves. ASA aid was delivered to both cities and the country side, to provinces through outthe country, from Tuyen Quang in the north to Nge An and Quang Tri in the center and Tra Vinh in the south.
With the end of the US embargo and the increased prosperity ofViet Nam’s economy, ASA’s medical aid program has changed with the times. In recent years ASA focuses more on delivering radiology equipment to district and provincial hospitals, and works more frequently in the northern provinces.
In addition to equipment donations, ASA has arranged formedical delegations of surgeons and burn specialists to makeworking/teaching visits to Vietnam. ASA will continue to facilitate these types of exchanges when opportunities arise.
As one of the first American organizations to support Vietnam after the war, ASA has built trust and sustainable relationships with many organizations in Vietnam including the Vietnam Women’s Union.
Vietnam Women’s Union and ASA have developed a relationship since 1997, after the first visit of Mr. Steve Sherlock to VWU headquarter. ASAexpandedits programs in Vietnam and in 1999, ASA provided $1.800 to help support the Ho Chi Minh City Women’s Union program for HIV/AIDS prevention. Early in 2001, ASA agreed to support 2 development and training projects for rural and mountainous areas, as requested by the VWU:
1. Support income generation activities of poor women in Ninh Thuan provinceThis is a 3 year project, 2001-2004,with a budget of $ 25.500.Each year, 50 poor women have been provided small loans and trained to help them use theloans to develop their household economy. After three years, many beneficiaries have bought necessary utilities for their families such as bicycles and sewing machines.
2. Up-grading the Vocational training Center of Lao Cai province Women’s Union This is also a three year project, 2001-2003, with a budget of $21.100.The goal of this project is to up-grade the infrastructure and provide equipment and refresher training of trainers. Many training courses (free of charge or fee/payment) were provided to ethnic women and children.The classes included agricultural product processing, tailoring, foreign languages (English, Chinese and H’Mong) and computer skills.
These two projects are effective and successful, in part, because of the positive relationship between VWU and ASA. It is a relationship of equality, mutual trust, respect, and cooperation. Together we work for the advancement of Vietnamese women and forunderstanding and friendship between our two countries. In the coming years, VWU and ASA will continue to work cooperatively for the interestsof Vietnamese women and to further develop the VWU capacity for international cooperation.