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Cablegate: Domestic Ngos in Hcmc

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

300314Z May 01

2001HOCHI00648 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ3473

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00648 01 OF 03 300321Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 EVG-00 CIAE-00 SMEC-00 INL-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 EUR-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00
VC-00 HHS-01 H-01 SSA-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 OES-01 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 IRM-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00
SNIS-00 NISC-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /014W
------------------F20280 300321Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5113
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
AMEMBASSY VATICAN
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
USMISSION GENEVA
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HO CHI MINH CITY 000648

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
STATE ALSO FOR PRM
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 00648 01 OF 03 300321Z
STATE ALSO FOR DRL/IRF
STATE ALSO FOR USAID/SOULES
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI PHUM PGOV KIRF KHIV VM
SUBJECT: DOMESTIC NGOS IN HCMC


1. SUMMARY: AFTER 1975, VIETNAM'S COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT
CLOSED OR TOOK OVER THE ADMINISTRATION OF SCHOOLS,
ORPHANAGES, HEALTH FACILITIES, AND OTHER CHARITABLE AND
SOCIAL FACILITIES IN SAIGON THAT PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN
MANAGED BY RELIGIOUS OR OTHER PRIVATE ENTITIES. IN THE
PAST FEW YEARS IN HCMC, AND IN SOME OTHER PARTS OF
VIETNAM, THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALLOWED A QUIET BUT REAL
RESURGENCE IN BOTH THE NUMBER AND THE ACTIVITIES OF
DOMESTIC, USUALLY RELIGIOUS, NGOS. ALTHOUGH THESE
ORGANIZATIONS ACT OUTSIDE OF DIRECT GOVERNMENT CONTROL,
SOME ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A GOVERNMENT OR PARTY AGENCY.
THE EMERGENCE OF SUCH GROUPS PROBABLY REPRESENTS A GROWING
TOLERANCE ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS A
GROWING RECOGNITION OF GOVERNMENT INABILITY TO MEET THE
CHARITABLE AND SOCIAL NEEDS OF THE CITY. THIS REPORT
PROFILES SOME OF THE NGO'S ENGAGED IN CHARITABLE AND
SOCIAL WORK IN HCMC. GROUPS SUCH AS THESE, ESTABLISHED BY
AND EMPLOYING PERSONS WITH A GENUINE ENTHUSIASM FOR WHAT
THEY ARE DOING, MAY EVENTUALLY HELP VIETNAM CREATE A MORE
CIVIL SOCIETY WHERE PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO
CHARITABLE NEEDS AND SOCIAL CAUSES WITHOUT FEAR OF
GOVERNMENT IMPEDIMENTS OR PUNISHMENT. END SUMMARY.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00648 01 OF 03 300321Z

FRIEND TO FRIEND CLUB
---------------------

2. A FEW YEARS AGO, A HCMC HEROIN ADDICT (WHO PREFERRED
NOT TO GIVE HIS NAME TO POLOFF) DISCOVERED HE WAS HIV-
POSITIVE. RATHER THAN SUCCUMB TO FEELINGS OF DESPAIR, HE
GAVE UP HIS HABIT COLD TURKEY, FOUND A FRIEND WHO SHARED
THE SAME FATE, AND THE TWO OF THEM BEGAN TALKING WITH
OTHER HEROIN ADDICTS THEY KNEW ABOUT THE DANGERS OF NEEDLE-
SHARING. BEING FORMER ADDICTS, THEY WERE ABLE TO STRIKE
CHORDS IN THEIR LISTENERS THAT GOVERNMENT OUTREACH
PROGRAMS SIMPLY COULD NOT DO. THEY ENCOURAGED THEIR
LISTENERS TO GIVE UP THEIR ADDICTIONS IF THEY COULD, BUT
THEIR MAIN MESSAGE WAS TO STOP THE PRACTICE OF SHARING
NEEDLES. SOON THEY BEGAN HOLDING MEETINGS AT A ROW HOUSE
ON A SIDE STREET IN PHU NHUAN DISTRICT, CLANDESTINE
MEETINGS, SINCE A GROUP OF HEROIN ADDICTS MEETING TOGETHER
AND DISTRIBUTING CLEAN NEEDLES WOULD INVITE ARREST BY
LOCAL POLICE. OTHER ADDICTS AND FORMER ADDICTS
VOLUNTEERED TO HELP. THEY CREATED A GROUP CALLED "FRIEND
TO FRIEND CLUB."

3. TODAY FRIEND TO FRIEND IS FORMALLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE
HCMC AIDS COMMITTEE FROM WHICH IT RECEIVES FUNDING. IT
HAS A STAFF OF 15 WHO RECEIVE A LIMITED SALARY AND A
VOLUNTEER FORCE OF 100. MOST OF THE VOLUNTEERS ARE HIV-
POSITIVE AND THREE QUARTERS OF THEM ARE LESS THAN 25 YEARS
OLD. THE VOLUNTEERS GO HOUSE-TO-HOUSE, TO HOSPITALS, AND
BY INVITATION, TO SCHOOLS, TO GIVE SUPPORT TO PEOPLE WHO
HAVE HIV/AIDS, THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS, AND/OR CAREGIVERS AND
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00648 01 OF 03 300321Z
TO GIVE ADVICE TO THOSE WHO ARE AT RISK OF ACQUIRING THE
DISEASE. THEY CONTINUE TO HOLD MONTHLY MEETINGS AND TO BE
A SUPPORT GROUP FOR HEROIN ADDICTS. THEIR ASSOCIATION
WITH THE AIDS COMMITTEE HAS GIVEN THEM THE CAPABILITY TO
OPERATE MORE OPENLY AND WITHOUT FEAR OF POLICE
INTERVENTION.

THANH XUAN SHELTER FOR GIRLS
----------------------------

4. TWO CATHOLIC NUNS ESTABLISHED A SHELTER IN 1996 IN
HCMC'S BINH THANH DISTRICT FOR YOUNG GIRLS WHO HAVE
EXPERIENCED LABOR EXPLOITATION OR SEXUAL ABUSE. TODAY,
THE SHELTER IS OPERATED BY SEVERAL CATHOLIC NUNS AND LAY
PERSONS AND IS HOME TO 22 GIRLS FROM THE AGES OF SIX TO
FOURTEEN. THE GIRLS ARE EITHER ORPHANS OR COME FROM POOR
FAMILIES WITH NEGLECTFUL, ABUSIVE OR EXPLOITATIVE PARENTS.
(SOME OF THE PARENTS HAVE FORCED OR SOLD THEIR CHILDREN
INTO PROSTITUTION.) AT THE SHELTER, THE GIRLS ARE
PROVIDED FOOD, CLOTHING, AN EDUCATION AND A PLACE TO LIVE.
RECOGNIZING THAT THE CHILDREN OFTEN COME FROM BACKGROUNDS
WHERE THE NOTION OF "TRUST" HAS BEEN SHATTERED, THE NUNS
AND LAYPERSONS AT THE SHELTER STRESS INTERDEPENDENCE BY
HAVING THE CHILDREN SHARE RESPONSIBILITIES IN HOUSEHOLD
WORK, HELPING EACH OTHER TO LEARN IN THE CLASSROOM, AND
PLAYING TOGETHER. THE SHELTER HAS AN INFORMAL ASSOCIATION
WITH THE HCMC COMMUNIST PARTY YOUTH UNION, WHICH PROVIDES
COUNSELING TO THE GIRLS TO MAKE THEM AWARE OF THEIR RIGHTS
IN SEXUALLY EXPLOITATIVE SITUATIONS. IT ALSO IS
ASSOCIATED INFORMALLY WITH THE HCMC WORK INSTITUTE, WHICH
PROVIDES THE GIRLS WITH SOME TRAINING IN COMPUTER
LITERACY, EMBROIDERY/SEWING, AND HAIR STYLING.

5. THE GOAL OF THE THANH XUAN SHELTER IS TO REUNITE THE
CHILDREN WITH THEIR FAMILIES UNDER THE CONDITION THAT BOTH
PARTIES ARE WILLING AND ACCEPTING OF ONE ANOTHER.
ALTHOUGH 12 OF THE GIRLS ARE ORPHANS OR OTHERWISE CANNOT
BE REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES, OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS,
24 GIRLS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY BEEN REUNITED WITH FAMILY AND
LOVED ONES. FUNDING FOR THE SHELTER COMES COMPLETELY FROM
PRIVATE DONATIONS, USUALLY FROM INDIVIDUALS.

FRIENDS FOR STREET CHILDREN ASSOCIATION
---------------------------------------

6. IN 1993, A CATHOLIC WOMAN TOOK THREE HOMELESS CHILDREN
INTO HER HOME IN THU DUC DISTRICT. BY THE END OF 1995,
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00648 02 OF 03 300321Z
SHE HAD TAKEN IN FOUR OTHER HOMELESS CHILDREN AND BEGAN
TEACHING READING AND WRITING CLASSES TO THEM AND 13 OTHER
CHILDREN IN THE DISTRICT WHOSE FAMILIES WERE UNABLE TO
AFFORD SCHOOL FEES AND BOOKS. IN 1997, THE WOMAN AND HER
SCHOOL BECAME A PART OF "FRIENDS FOR STREET CHILDREN," A
CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION ESTABLISHED IN 1993 THAT RAN THREE
OTHER SIMILAR SCHOOLS, THE OLDEST OF WHICH DATED BACK TO
1984. TODAY, FRIENDS FOR STREET CHILDREN MANAGES AND
OPERATES SEVEN DEVELOPMENT CENTERS, WHICH ARE, IN FACT,
SCHOOLS FOR CHILDREN FROM FAMILIES TOO POOR TO AFFORD
MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS. IT HAS A STAFF OF ABOUT 50 SOCIAL
WORKERS, EDUCATORS AND NUNS, MOST OF WHOM ARE VOLUNTEERS.

7. IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS, THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN ATTENDING
FRIENDS' DEVELOPMENT CENTERS INCREASED FROM 520 TO 812.
ABOUT 160 OF THE CHILDREN LIVE ON THE GROUNDS OF THE
DEVELOPMENT CENTERS AND WOULD OTHERWISE SLEEP ON THE
STREETS. THE OTHER CHILDREN LIVE AT HOME, BUT ATTEND
CLASSES (AND ARE PROVIDED A MEAL) AT THE CENTERS. THE
CENTER IN THU DUC DISTRICT IS NOW HOME TO 29 CHILDREN
WHILE 76 OTHERS ATTEND CLASSES THERE. THE STAFF OF TWELVE
TEACHERS AND SOCIAL WORKERS INCLUDES THREE DOMINICAN NUNS.
IT IS THE GOAL OF FRIENDS FOR STREET CHILDREN TO PREVENT
THEIR VULNERABLE STUDENTS FROM BECOMING STREET CHILDREN BY
PROVIDING A BASIC EDUCATION AS WELL AS VOCATIONAL TRAINING
IN EMBROIDERY, TAILORING, HANDICRAFTS, CARPENTRY AND
COMPUTER CLASSES. FUNDING IS LARGELY DEPENDENT ON LOCAL
INDIVIDUAL DONATIONS, BUT FRIENDS DOES GET SUPPORT FROM
SOME INTERNATIONAL DONORS IN FRANCE AND JAPAN.

HOUSE OF LOVE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00648 02 OF 03 300321Z
-------------

9. THE HOUSE OF LOVE IS AN ORPHANAGE MANAGED AND OPERATED
BY ONE BUDDHIST MONK AND ELEVEN BUDDHIST NUNS WHO RESIDE
AT THE DIEU GIAC PAGODA IN HCMC'S DISTRICT TWO. IN
ADDITION, THERE ARE SEVEN PAID STAFF (TEACHERS AND SOCIAL
WORKERS) AND TWELVE LAY VOLUNTEERS. THE ORPHANAGE WAS
ESTABLISHED IN 1989 FOR NEWBORN BABIES WHO WERE ABANDONED
AT THE PAGODA (WHICH IS LOCATED IN ONE OF THE CITY'S
POOREST AREAS). OF THE 101 CHILDREN CURRENTLY RESIDING AT
THE ORPHANAGE, 30 ARE THREE YEARS OLD OR LESS AND 71 ARE
FROM 4 TO 11 YEARS OLD. SEVENTY-NINE WERE ABANDONED AT
THE ORPHANAGE, TEN ARE ORPHANED, AND THE REMAINING TWELVE
GIVEN OVER TO THE ORPHANAGE FOR VARIOUS REASONS. ABOUT
HALF ARE GIRLS AND HALF ARE BOYS. THE ORPHANAGE SENDS
SOME OF ITS RESIDENTS TO MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS, BUT ALSO
PROVIDES PRIMARY SCHOOL CLASSES ON ITS PREMISES. FUNDING
FOR THE OPERATION OF THIS ORPHANAGE COMES ENTIRELY FROM
INDIVIDUAL PRIVATE DONATIONS.

OTHER CHARITIES
---------------

10. A CATHOLIC NUN IN BINH THANH DISTRICT RUNS AN
ORPHANAGE FOR AUTISTIC AND MENTALLY DISTURBED CHILDREN.
ANOTHER CATHOLIC NUN MANAGES AN ORPHANAGE AND SCHOOL FOR
POOR CHILDREN FROM ONE TO EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD IN THONG NHAT
DISTRICT IN DONG NAI PROVINCE. A GROUP OF DOCTORS AND
NURSES HAVE ESTABLISHED THE BEN SAN LEPROSY TREATMENT
CENTER IN BINH DUONG PROVINCE. A PRIVATE GROUP OF
INDIVIDUALS OPERATES A HOME/SCHOOL FOR 44 BLIND PEOPLE
(AGED 5 TO 29 YEARS) IN HCMC'S DISTRICT TEN. TWO WOMEN,
ONE VIETNAMESE AND ONE WESTERN, RUN A SHELTER FOR HOMELESS
GIRLS IN HCMC'S DISTRICT FOUR. A PRIVATE GROUP OF
INDIVIDUALS CALLING THEMSELVES "CARE FOR CHILDREN IN
ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES" MANAGE A SHELTER FOR
SEXUALLY ABUSED GIRLS AGED 12 TO 16 AND AN ORPHANAGE AND
SCHOOL FOR 100 CHILDREN AGED 6 TO 16 IN DISTRICT FOUR.
THE CATHOLIC DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY OPERATE SEVERAL
KINDERGARTENS IN HCMC, AND PRIESTS ASSOCIATED WITH NOTRE
DAME CATHEDRAL IN HCMC HAVE ESTABLISHED A SCHOOL FOR THE
DEAF AND DUMB IN THE MEKONG DELTA.

COMMENT
-------

11. THERE ARE LIKELY MANY MORE PRIVATE CHARITABLE AND
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00648 03 OF 03 300321Z
SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS CARRYING OUT SIMILAR ACTIVITIES OF
WHICH POST IS UNAWARE. THE ABOVE SHOULD SUFFICE, HOWEVER,
TO POINT OUT THAT THE NUMBER OF NGO'S IN HCMC AND THE GOOD
WORKS THEY ARE ACCOMPLISHING ARE ON THE RISE. POST
APPLAUDS THE LENIENT MANNER IN WHICH THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
HAS PERMITTED THESE NGO'S TO OPERATE AND LOOKS FORWARD TO
THE DAY WHEN A CIVIL SOCIETY COMPRISED OF MANY DIFFERENT
NON-GOVERNMENT ACTORS, PRIVATE CITIZENS AND PRIVATE
GROUPS, BECOMES A REALITY IN VIETNAM.

RAY

UNCLASSIFIED

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