In 1995, the World Population Foundation (WPF) – which later merged with the Rutgers Nisso Group - started to assist a small NGO in Vietnam. Supported by the Rockefeller foundation the NGO was able to develop their own programmes. These programmes were boosted by the Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in Asia (RHIYA), financed by the European Union. RHIYA was implemented in 7 countries in Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
Our own office
To coordinate all these projects a WPF office was housed in the UNFPA building in Hanoi. In 2000 WPF – Vietnam moved to their own office across the road. Ritu Shroff, the project coordinator, became the first Country Representative. Mrs Tran Kim Ly, the last Country Representative, had been involved right from the start of the field office.
Gradually the office coordinated an increasing number of projects. Some highlights in those years were:
- 300,000 young people improved their knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights through interactive theatre:
We started interactive theatre to promote sex education to young people, first in Nghe An and later in other counties as well. Young people could put their questions to the Theatre Troupe which then acted these out.
- 15,500 young people received sex education in re-education schools. Indirectly 400 staff members benefited from it.
From 2001 to 2004 an educational programme ran at four re-education schools for juvenile offenders. This inspired ‘The World Starts With me’ (WSWM), a sex education programme that was developed in Uganda and is running in 7 countries in Africa and Asia.
- Sex education through sign language for hearing impaired
Our sex education programme was translated in sign language together with the Xa Dan School for the Deaf in Hanoi. A glossary of more than 500 signs was developed with many new signs as many sexual and reproductive health and rights terms did not have signs before. Every year 200 hearing impaired young people learn the signs.
- Comprehensive sexuality education becomes part of curriculum
The Da Nang province in Vietnam has decided to make sex education an obligatory extra-curricular subject at all secondary schools. Our sex education programme Equiped for Life is used by students of the teachers college of Da Nang University of Education (DUE). Teenage world is the programme used by secondary schools in the province. Over a period of four years over 900 teachers learned how to provide sex education. Starting 2013 the secondary school programme is obligatory and reaches 20,000 pupils every year.
Interested in the full story of our Vietnam office? Read the booklet.
During the last weeks of the Vietnam office we spoke with teachers, parents and young people to collect the stories of how the work of Rutgers had changed their lives. Watch the video to see and hear about their experiences.
In the last years in Vietnam, we co-founded the Alliance for Sexual Rights. This alliance of five powerful and motivated Vietnamese organisations continues to support sexual and reproductive health and rights. We feel confident about the Alliance fighting for the rights of women, young people, LGBT people and vulnerable groups.
The Alliance consists of: