MSAVLC has been supporting Thanh Xuan Peace Village in Hanoi for many years, by giving donations for medical equipment. It is not a village as we normally understand the term. It is a group of ugly, grey, concrete buildings situated in the outskirts of Hanoi, and it caters for orphans and disabled children, mostly affected by dioxin poisoning. The village was built in 1991 with the help of a German charity and its purpose was to “Relieve the pain and sorrow of the victims of war”. Between 1991 and 2000 their main source of funding had been from donors and MSAVLC have supplied them with much-needed medical equipment. In 2000 the Vietnamese government stepped in to help fund the village, providing them with about 200 million dong (about £6,000) per year. It is insufficient for all of their needs.
Recently Trustees visited the village and saw that the main school building was in a dilapidated condition, the corridors were cold and damp, and the concrete walls crumbling. They had obviously not been painted for years. There were a number of treatment rooms on the ground floor which are used by the children for medical treatments and physiotherapy in the mornings. They are also used by local adults in the afternoons, and this is a small but vital source of funding for the village. The treatment is given free to those patients who are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange, but the Village asks for a donation from others. This does not amount to much as the majority of people who attend are very poor.
In each of the classrooms are youngsters of a variety of ages and abilities. There are a few pieces of educational play equipment but not enough to go round, a few posters and some children’s drawings on the tired and peeling walls, chairs and tables and a few half-empty cupboards. It is a depressing environment and yet the children are being well cared for by dedicated staff. Obviously, scarce resources are spent on the children, not on the buildings. Children are taught a basic education and some vocational skills such as weaving and computer skills.
In January 2011, the village’s status was upgraded to that of a Hospital for Rehabilitation with a remit to:-
- Provide intensive care for child victims of Agent Orange
- Develop further rehabilitation
- Provide care for anyone who needs it, particularly the elderly
Since the Village’s upgrading they have faced many difficulties. Although they now cater for more children, deal more with rehabilitation cases, and provide care for elderly patients, their income has not been increased due to the economic crisis. The building is still the same size and in the same dilapidated state, some of their medical equipment is broken and has not been replaced. They were told that their infrastructure could be upgraded, but possibly not until 2020, and although things are becoming more and more difficult, the staff are coping to the best of their ability
They are presently treating 150 patients, and 130 children are living in. 75% of these children are suffering from the effects of Agent Orange, and have various disabilities, both physical and mental. They only have 110 beds available, so in some cases 2 children are sleeping in one bed. The dormitories are overcrowded and depressing. However, the children are cared for as well as possible and, the staff is loving and kind.
In the past few years MSAVLC have provided the village with medical equipment including a haematological analyser, dental equipment, infrared lights, a laser machine, and acupuncture equipment.
After the last visit by the Trustees, it was agreed to purchase some more equipment, but the Village still needs help to be able to continue its vital work.
||Heat Lamp Therapy
Trustees revisited the Peace Village which continues to be affected by the economic difficulties in Vietnam, and is still in great need of financial input. The village has acquired extra patients over the last year, making 156 in total, including 136 residential children. All the staff work under very difficult conditions, but are very dedicated and receive ongoing training in various treatments such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The Trustees were able to see, in use, the equipment that had been bought in 2013, and toured the classrooms, dormitories and workshops. The buildings were dark, damp and depressing. There was a shortage of space and beds, one dormitory had to be used as a classroom during the day, and some children had to share a bed.
On return to England the Trustees agreed to fund 20 beds for the village and a machine for treating speech disorders.