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Report on project inspection in the Hue province in Vietnam March 2007

From 02-24 to 03-15-2007 an inspection took place. The representative of Courage in Hue, Mrs. Ton Nu Thi Hien, accompanied the chairman of Courage, Mr. Gerd Willkommen, during all site visits and meetings with Vietnamese partners. Mrs. Ton Nu Thi Hien provided all interpretation.

The goal of the trip was:

  1. To check the progress of the current program and planned actions
  2. To explore new, additional means of assistance for self-support and for the extension of the project

Results of project with women in the villages Huong Tho and Quang Thai
The findings of the site visits were very positive.
Courage started in the commune Huong Tho where the women invested the capital they earned from selling their pigs. In Huong Tho the project has already paid for itself.
In April 2006 the first group of eight women got their piglets, each woman received three. Three piglets died in the first weeks (12.5%). The others were successful raised and sold. The generated proceeds were partly used for buying new piglets. Through the end of February 39 pigs were sold. This is equivalent to 1.800 Euro! Two women did not continue with the project. Currently six women have 12 piglets in their sties. They want to continue in the program.1 (see explanation below!)
In the second group, started in September 2006, all of the women kept their agreement. Again three piglets died. Mrs. Nhung sold only one grown pig and bought three more piglets; she wants to breed. Now she has five animals in her sty. This is a convincing example that we could develop and realize a sustainable help concept. The rest of the women fed up their piglets and sold them in the time before TET, the Vietnamese New Years Celebration. They bought only two new piglets for feeding up.1
The women of the third and largest group got their three piglets on a cold, windy and rainy day. Despite injections and the donation of concentrated feeding stuff 17.5% of the piglets died in the first week. It was a bitter loss for these women. They canít compensate for it by themselves. Should Courage make good the loss? I think yes! But can we be sure that all of the piglets really died? The representative of the Womenís Union in Hong Ho thinks otherwise.1
While all the women (with only one exception) in the commune Huong Tho avoid the risk of breeding and prefer to buy new piglets, the women from 25 km away in Quang Thai village try everything in order to start breeding. In this commune families have already successfully bred pigs.
The main challenge for all of the women is to supply enough suitable prepared feed. Ninety-five per cent of the women decided to feed up only two piglets, which is manageable and also yields profit.
The gravest problem is the mortality of the piglets in the first weeks after transfer to the women. The change from the breeding station to the household of a poor, inexperienced woman is one of the reasons for the deaths and weather is another, which is why Courage gives over 30 kg concentrated feed to each woman. The bad weather conditions can not be prevented because the delivery date has to be fixed well in advance3

Scholarship for four students in Huong Tho
Last year Courage paid the school fees and purchased school uniforms for four students in the secondary school of the village. This time we visited the households of these half-orphans and their school. They are still good and assiduous students.
A more-significant scholarship for Nguyen Hoai Phuong, 15 years old, was funded by Mrs. Schreiber, a member of Courage steering board. We pay not only the school fee and for the school uniform, but also the needed money for after school tutoring in four subjects.4

Investigation for project enlargement / extension
Courage would like to expand the project. We would like to open a fund with aid money. Women with promising business ideas can ask for credit. The payback to the fund occurs without interest. The extension of credit is likely to enhance the recipientís involvement and senses of responsibility and self-determination. During the stay in Hue Mr. Willkommen spoke with many representatives of other NGOs in the Hue province in order to learn of their experiences in similar projects.

Our representative in Hue
The efficiency and success of our project depends on our representative on location, Mrs. Ton Nu Thi Hien. She assures that our aid money really reaches the needy women. She did an excellent job. In Vietnam she implemented our concept and achieved good results in reality.

Remarks about the situation of the women in the project areas
Many of the single women with their children were impoverished when their husbands or partners left them and disappeared. To pay alimony is unusual in Vietnam. It is a rare exception when one of these women brings an action against the fathers of their children in order to get financial support. The Womenís Union of Vietnam helps needy women. Courage operates in close cooperation with the Womenís Union.
Many of the men went into the big cities, do not have a regular income, and cannot be obligated to pay for their children. It is not only in Vietnam that men evade their obligations to wife and children, but the percentage is higher than in, for example, Germany.

Gerd Willkommen
Chairman of Courage e.V.


  1. Two women sold their pigs against the treaty and have decided not to feed piglets anymore. We are not certain of their exact reasons. But we, members of Courage and people living in developed societies cannot realistically expect that every woman will always be able to follow through with their contracts, when they are fighting for survival on a daily basis.
  2. If somebody has a successful business idea it will be copied without hesitation. For this reason you find in the old city of Hanoi for example whole streets of shops with identical products. Of course this competition is not good for profit. Three years ago Courage gave a small amount of money for opening a barbershop to a young single woman. The first month she earned a lot. After one year two other barber shops in the same street were opened and of course the business slowed down.
  3. Because Courage gave piglets without charge at the beginning, to give under credit may cause problems when the women have to pay back a part of the credit to the fund.
    What should be done when a piglet dies? The representative of the Womenís Union in Hong Tho spoke against the plan to replace the dead piglets. She fears the women will sell the piglets and state that they had died. We have to discuss this and make a decision within the organization. See also 1
  4. It is common in Vietnam that the children of wealthier parents receive lessons on their study subjects after school, sometimes from the same teacher. This is practically necessary for the students to enter the university. In addition it gives the teachers a chance to supplement their salaries.