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last update 01 Oct 2008

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Report to the inspection trip to Vietnam and Cambodia

sow of Mrs. Frau Thiu in Quang Thai

From September 7th to 13th a control trip was carried out in the province Hue.
  • check of the reported results
  • meeting with the responsible persons of the province government
  • financial clearing until August 2008
This year Courage helped 13 women in the commune Huong Ho. In the commune Loc Thuy 15 women were helped, who will finally get their piglets on September 22nd. They had to wait for a longer time for their piglets due to the actual epidemic. Mrs. Hien and I visited women who are exemplary for a whole group of women. Sometimes it was very difficult to find the properties in the confusing built villages. Therefore we needed the help of

Vietnamese "kitchen"

familiar leaders. The only means of transportation was the motorbike, some properties were only reachable by foot.

In the commune Huong Ho all women have sold her piglets and therefore, according to their conditions, earned a lot of money. Nine of them have new animals in their barns. The others, living closer to the river, will wait until the floodwater season is over.

From Sep 13 to 14 Mrs Hien visited Cambodia for checkup and reported immediately the results. She brought with her all accounting records.



Since 2005 Courage e.V. is active in the province Hue in Vietnam. Meanwhile 97 exclusively Vietnamese female soles, living

Mrs. Chat's house

below the poverty line are included in the project. After instruction and building the stable they have got 3 piglets for pig fattening or breeding, respectively. As an average the women in Vietnam earn about 600 € per year this way. Because they dont live in the town but ruralise, they are influenced not so hard by the high rate of inflation (28% in 2008). They earn three

Mrs. Giai's new building

times the amount as before due to the fact that most of them continue to help their neighbours on the paddy fields or to collect brush-wood (ca. 250 € per year), which was the only source of income before. Thus their income is now significantly higher than the World-Bank line of peverty of 1 U$ per year.

The women herself as well as the local heads of the Women's Union ask our representative Mrs. Hien for help. The efficiency of the Courage project gets around.

The secret of our success is that we don't only pay for the instruction, the stable and the piglets but we take great care to the women. Our representative care about the women for a long time in close co-operation with the Vietnamese Women's Union and gives further financial support, if necessary.

The 43 supported women in the commune Huong Tho have given so much from their gain that two additional poor women could be helped with piglets. In such an environment women, for whom it is difficult to keep some money from the revenue to by new piglets instead of other also necessary aquisitions, will have success, too.

The proportion of women who drop out from objective and subjective reasons is around 10%. In comparable tasks of other NGOs after one year the whole money is consumed by the women.

Collecting brushwood is a typical
source of income for feme sole

As long as the projects were financed by single donations, according to the constitution of Courage, the annual control visits of the head has to be finenced privately. Thus it is assured that really all donations reach the poor women in Vietnam. There our representative minds that no money is offset in the communes.

A single input of 250 to 300 € is enough to guarantee an annual income of 600 € - a really good result. We are one of only few NGOs in Vietnam which are exclusively target oriented. We are able to report a measurable financial success for each woman. Other famous NGOs confine themselfes on disaster management, capacity biulding and similar things. They pay for a
Women in the Courage project in Cambodia

number of events and the number of educated women. The women are not supported directly. They are not able to show their financial success. This is the most important advantage of Courage compared to other NGOs!

Meanwhile a project in Cambodia was established, where the first 10 women got their piglets. Now an important phase starts for them. The piglets have to be changed over from provided mash to the self produced food.


Remarks to the question why such a lot women are alone and poor

Most of the visited women I asked why they have to live alone (and so nearly unavoidable in poverty). I want to know what is the reason for the high number of feme soles. The answers were multifaceted:

  • A woman for marriage should be young and lovely otherwise she has less chances. In the age of 30 a female is too old. On the other hand, many young gils must merry due to the low sexual education. Often the first contact results in pregnancy. The parents of the girl put in touch with the parents of the boy and arrange the modalities. Is the family of the girl a poor one and the parents haven't the power to enforce themselves she remains alone. Nobody will merry her.
  • An unwedded woman of more than 30 years may look for a man to beget a child without any financial or other responsibility for the man. Each woman has the right to have children, merried or not. This is seen as an element of the ancient cultur.
  • The old age assurance for the parents or in this case for the mother is the son who stays in the house, while the doughter goes to the parents in law after she is merried. Thus Mrs. Tiu in the project in Quang Thai has got a second child - a boy - although she is single and has to see for a daughter.
This is the reverse of the bemoaned fact (see article in "Vietnam News" in the appendix) that a lot of husbands press their wifes or are unfaithful. Feme soles (unwedded, divorced, or widdowed) were seen as a playmate. "They want it so" I have heard. The Woman's Union has not the power to solve the problem despite the fact that she has to see for more and more women sinking into poverty. There are only tentative trials of sexual education.

I was confronted with a lot of moralic and ethic questions not measurable with European criteria. One example is a woman in Huong Tho. When she entered in the project she had five children. She has sold fatted pigs and expensed the whole money. Thus she could not buy new piglets and she dropped out from the project. Now she has six children and no husband. Why she don't use contraceptives. It is not usual was the answer.

Gerd Willkommen
Head of Courage e.V.



Article in "Vietnam News"

by Mrs. Nguyen Thi An

Being beaten and maltreated by husbands accounts for 53% of the reasons of all divorce cases filed by women in Vietnam. Domestic violence is no more a problem of each family but causing pain and discontent in the society. In a 2-day conference held by the German Development Service (DED), Center for Women and Development (CWD-a department of Vietnam Women.s Union), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Ford Foundation (Hanoi, June 2007), the occurrence of domestic violence in Vietnam was described as popular and alarming.

Slapping the wife is not violence!

According to Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa – Vice President of Vietnam Women.s Union (VWU), domestic violence is happening in all areas of the country, regardless of wealth or education; the main victims are women and children. "I once asked a man if there was violence in his family. He said "no". Then I asked if he ever slapped his wife. The answer was "sometimes." – she said. Lack of knowledge about domestic violence and gender inequality has caused many difficulties for social workers to approach perpetrators and victims. A study by Mrs. Cao Thi Hong Van – Head of Education and Social Section of VWU showed that slapping, beating, kicking and even hitting the wife with a lash are normally accepted if the wife is to blame, cheeky, involved in adultery or simply doesn.t take good care of her husband and children.

Mr. Bui Quoc Quan from Institute for Reproductive and Family Health (RaFH) gave the same judgment after working with 35 perpetrators in Ninh Binh province: "Several even revealed that they sometimes slapped their wife just because she spoke too much." The visible part of an iceberg

In fact, physical violence is just the visible part of an iceberg. In Vietnamese society.s common understanding, sexual abuse, insult and adultery are not yet considered as ways of domestic violence. According to Dr. Vu Manh Loi from the Institute of Sociology, an act is seen as domestic violence as long as it causes serious consequences such as death and severe injuries. Besides, if an act of minor violence happens frequently or the victim is not at fault, community also condemns it as domestic violence. Mr Le Anh Tu, a policeman in Long Bien district, said that uncovering a physical violence case is quite easy: "Actually violation of health and body is just a corner of the problem. Realizing signs of mental violence is much more difficult."

Why does domestic violence happen? Poverty, low education, failure outside the family, alcohol addiction, and adultery may be reasons to name. But from a social scientists. point of view, these all lead to a deep-rooted reason which is "to value man above women” thinking of most Vietnamese people. Community’s silence to a domestic violence case is an unspoken permission to such an act.

The CWD has been building shelters for survivors of domestic violence. Addresses of these shelters, known as "nha lanh nan” or "house to shun danger”, are kept secret to secure victims from being found by perpetrators, said a staff of the Consulting and Development Support Department of the CWD. This Department will first talk to victims and decide if they need a place in any of the shelters within Hanoi. Women and children in Northern provinces who survived domestic violence in emergency cases can seek free accommodation, food and medicine here. Furthermore, the survivors are supported and consulted to work with the local authorities to fulfil administrative and legal procedures if required. At the same time, they can bring their children and have them taken care of in the CWD's kindergarten.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Union of Thai Binh province has also created the "address of trust" which is a shelter for local women in case of emergency when there.s nowhere else for them to go. In Ninh Binh province, the Institute for Reproductive and Family Health has set up a club for male perpetrators to talk and exchange experience, thus helping to restrain acts of violence within the family. The non-government organisation CSAGA (Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents) is providing consultancy directly or on phone and building a club for victims to create a friendly atmosphere for them to share and to help each other.

Women.s Unions, mediation groups, police offices and other social organizations at grassroots level are also giving a hand to raise people.s awareness about domestic violence and intervene in necessary cases. Though such interventions are needed, they can’t solve the problem because they are still small and scattered.

As domestic violence is mostly seen as a women.s problem, fighting against it hardly involves men. It is important that leadership at all levels be convinced about the need to intervene in domestic violence and combine actions of all areas. If not, domestic violence will continue behind each family's closed door.