US NGOs Contribute to Vietnam's Economic, Welfare And Social Development

With public health care projects, overcoming war consequences, and poverty reduction projects, US non-governmental organizations (NGOs) paved the way for Vietnam-US relations
December 03, 2023 | 23:11
US NGOs Contribute to Vietnam's Economic, Welfare And Social Development
Organizing smile surgery for children with facial deformities in Dak Lak. Photo: Operation Smile Vietnam

Bring smiles to children

At the end of October 2023, Tran Thi Linh (Chu Se district, Gia Lai province) traveled 150 km to bring her 13-month-old daughter, born with a cleft lip and cleft palate, to Buon Ma Thuot city, Dak Lak province to attend the surgical program.

The program is organized by Operation Smile Vietnam in collaboration with Dak Lak Province Children's Fund and Buon Ma Thuot University Hospital of Medicine and Pharmacy.

This is the 7th consecutive year Operation Smile Vietnam organized a free surgery program for children with lip and palate deformities in Dak Lak.

Linh said that when her daughter was four months old, she took her to the doctor. However, because she is still young, she is not eligible for surgery. This time, knowing that the program was held in Dak Lak, she and her husband took her child to the doctor. With advice from doctors, her family hopes that surgery will bring her a bright smile.

Participating in the comprehensive examination with Linh's daughter were more than 210 other patients. As a result, there were 115 cases eligible for surgery.

Children receive free surgery costs worth VND7-8 million (US$288-329)/case. In addition, the children are supported with travel expenses, food, and accommodation during surgery and hospital treatment.

According to the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs of Dak Lak province, this organization has coordinated with the provincial children's fund to successfully examine and operate on nearly 1,000 children with lip and palate deformities, with a cost of over VND6 billion (US$246,913).

The program brings joy, reduces difficulties for poor people, and helps children have better health.

Established in 1982, Operation Smile is a non-governmental organization operating in the field of public health care, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia (USA).

Operation Smile's presence in Vietnam is part of efforts in the process of normalizing Vietnam-United States relations.

Since 1989, Operation Smile examined and treated more than 66,000 Vietnamese children for free, bringing them new lives with great hope for a good future.

The organization also conducted training for thousands of domestic medical professionals to increase capacity and improve the health system.

Life sprouts from death

For nearly 30 years, PeaceTrees Vietnam supported Vietnam in bomb clearance, education to raise awareness about landmines and mines, and community development.

The idea of establishing the organization started from the story of an American mother named Rae Cheney whose son fought on the battlefields of South Vietnam.

The war was fierce, the son passed away forever at a young age. The place of Vietnam, a land of pain, once subjected to bombs and bullets, always haunts the mother when she remembers her son.

US NGOs Contribute to Vietnam's Economic, Welfare And Social Development
Multi-Mission Team No. 1 of PeaceTrees Vietnam clears land mines in Nam Trach commune, Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province. Photo: PeaceTrees Vietnam

Witnessing her mother's pain, Jerilyn, her husband Danaan Parry, and her daughter Rae Cheney decided to go to Vietnam with a few friends with the idea of doing something to overcome the consequences of war, restore the environment, and develop the community after Vietnam and the United States normalized diplomatic relations.

When hearing that there was a party in Washington, DC, where he could find the Vietnamese Ambassador Le Van Bang at that time, Danaan Parry flew to the capital and found the place where the party was taking place. Luckily, he met Ambassador Le Van Bang and presented the idea of the PeaceTrees. Unexpectedly, the Vietnamese Ambassador accepted to help.

In 1995, PeaceTrees was officially established in Vietnam and began its first operations in Quang Tri, where a large number of landmines remain and the number of deaths and injuries increases every year.

Unfortunately, a year later, Danaan Parry passed away. Jerilyn replaced her husband and continued to run and carry out the work of the organization.

At the 25th anniversary of the founding of PeaceTrees Vietnam, this organization disposed of more than 123,000 units of explosives and planted more than 44,000 trees on lands that have been restored to safety.

The organization also contributes to raising awareness about landmines, planting trees, building clean water wells, and providing scholarships for students who suffered mine accidents so they can continue to go to school.

Operation Smile and PeaceTrees Vietnam are two of more than 100 US non-governmental organizations operating regularly in Vietnam.

With professional operations on a large scale, achieving high disbursement value, long-term commitment, and effective coordination with Vietnamese partners, US non-governmental organizations play an important role among countries providing aid to Vietnam.

They actively contributed to the sustainable socio-economic development of Vietnam, improving understanding and expanding relations between the two peoples.

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