Volunteering with a non-governmental organization (NGO) is one of the most exciting ways to get involved in Vietnam. These groups provide highly specialized services that are making a serious impact on local communities. The opportunity to lend a hand and see lives being changed firsthand is something that stays with you for a lifetime.
Given the specialized nature of the services provided by these NGOs, volunteers are required to help with more general tasks, such as helping to craft proposals, seeking out international partners, developing English proficiency within the NGO office and editing documents that have been translated into English. Project site visits may also factor in.
It’s rare for the average traveler to enjoy such a clear window into Vietnamese society. You’ll be on the front lines of community development in one of the most dynamic regions on the planet. Few international visitors enjoy this level of access. Friends for Asia currently partners with four different NGOs in Vietnam. They work in the following areas:
One of the NGOs that Friends for Asia partners with works on development issues in Vietnam. This covers a wide range of interests, with projects focused in the following four areas:
• Climate change and other environmental concerns
• Women’s empowerment through microfinance schemes
• Promoting social inclusion for neglected children
• Youth development and environmental exchange
This NGO is still in a focused development stage, and that means that people on the ground are one of its most important resources. It’s particularly concerned with assisting people with disabilities in the greater Hanoi community. It’s most active in the following three areas:
• Improving education for children born to single mothers with disabilities
• Empowering young people with disabilities
• Providing legal advice to people with disabilities
Disabled persons are often overlooked by society at large, and this NGO serves as both advocate and liaison. Objectives vary from one area to the next, but the overarching goals include helping disabled persons and the organizations that represent them obtain legal status, find employment opportunities and understand their rights under the law.
This NGO works in tandem with international universities and management associations to provide creative and practical management solutions. Most of the officers involved have postgraduate credentials, and they work in the following three areas:
• Management training
• Consulting with third-party organizations
• Researching and publishing
The main objective of this NGO is blindness prevention in Vietnam’s Kon Tum Province. At present, it is piloting a refractive error program (known as ChildSight) in 15 primary and secondary schools. The NGO partners with local ophthalmologists to train teachers and community health staff to screen for potential vision problems. An eye doctor follows up with at-risk students, refracting where possible and providing eyeglasses when necessary.