Project RENEW Implements Initiatives to Support People with Disabilities in Quang Tri

The “Restoring the Environment and Neutralising the Effects of the War” (RENEW) project aims to help the central province of Quang Tri, known as one of the provinces hardest hit by the war, settle post-war bomb and landmine impacts.
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With support from different sources, in recent times, Project RENEW has implemented many initiatives to support landmine victims, people with disabilities, and their families to improve their livelihoods and stabilize their lives.

Quang Tri, located on the frontline between North and South Vietnam during wartime, was the most unexploded ordnance (UXO)-contaminated locality in the country. Since 1975, when Vietnam was reunified, UXOs have caused over 8,540 casualties, including 3,433 deaths, in Quang Tri. In particular, 31% of the casualties are people aged under 16.

Launched in 2001, Project RENEW has implemented practical activities to deal with the consequences of war such as detecting and destroying unexploded bombs and mines, and educating people about safety when finding unexploded bombs. Besides, it provides loans, financial donations, vocational training, medical assistance, and prostheses donations for Agent Orange victims and those injured by bombs and mines left after the war.

Project RENEW Implements Initiatives to Support People with Disabilities in Quang Tri
A new, spacious kitchen and all the necessary utensils at the Dong Ha City’s Blind Association. Source: Project RENEW

Most recently, thanks to a generous donation from The John Younger Trust, a longtime supporter of Project RENEW, 20 members of the Dong Ha City’s Blind Association have received a major upgrade to their working and living environment.

The donation provided a spacious new kitchen, complete with all the necessary utensils, significantly improving the association’s cooking and dining space. Additionally, three new massage beds, an air conditioner, and other essentials were provided for their acupressure and massage unit, allowing them to serve more clients and potentially increase their income.

“The assistance from Project RENEW and The John Younger Trust has empowered our members to improve the quality of our living and working environment,” said Truong Thi Ngoc, chairperson of the association. “We have earned more income.”

Dang Quang Toan, Victim Assistance/Disability Support Program Manager of Project RENEW, emphasized the importance of donation in empowering the Association members.

“The donation encourages the members to work together and earn income for themselves and their families,” he said. “It’s a great example of how collaboration and support can make a real difference in the lives of those facing challenges.”

Project RENEW Implements Initiatives to Support People with Disabilities in Quang Tri
Le Quang Thanh and Ho Thi Gai package their final incense products branded Thanh Gai Incense at their home in An Don ward, Quang Tri town. Source: Project RENEW

Another local family that received support from RENEW is Le Quang Thanh and Ho Thi Gai residing in An Don ward of Quang Tri town. They met each other in the early 1980s when they attended a catechism class at Tri Buu church. One day in 1984, 11-year-old Thanh lost his sight when a piece of ordnance exploded on the rice field where his father was plowing.

The two classmates hadn’t seen each other again for 12 years. In 1996, Gai was planting rice on a field near Thanh’s house. Despite his blindness, Thanh recognized his classmate immediately when people said to him that was Gai from An Don village. In the two years that followed, Thanh walked from his home in Quang Tri town taking the dirt road along Thach Han River to see Gai who lived in An Don.

Regardless of social prejudice, they married in 1998 and had their first daughter two years later. A second boy was born in 2008. Thanh was among the first members of Quang Tri Blind Center which was established to help visually-impaired people in the town to earn independent income from making bamboo products for sale such as toothpicks, brooms, and incense.

With support from Project RENEW, thanks to funding provided by the Irish Embassy in Vietnam, Thanh and Gai began crafting incense at home under the brand “Thanh Gai.” This venture, fueled by their unwavering spirit, earns this couple more than VND 4 million (USD 157) from incense, enough to cover their daily subsistence costs.

The assistance from RENEW and donors has had a transformative impact on the Quang Tri's people with disability. It has not only improved their incomes but also empowered them to be more confident and independent.

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Hannah Nguyen
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