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Four lessons from our COVID relief work and how they can be applied to support flooding victims

date_range2020-11-05

During the height of the pandemic Saigon Children’s Charity was one of the few international NGOs providing direct support to impoverished people affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Now, central Vietnam is facing devastating aftermath following a series of violent storms that have hit the region repeatedly over the past few weeks. Once again saigonchildren are providing urgent support to the affected families, particularly in Quang Tri where nine schools have been built as part of the saigonchildren’s School Building Programme. 

The experience gained from the relief work to support the economic victims of COVID-19 will be beneficial as these lessons are applied to our work in the central region. 

1. QUICKLY IDENTIFY AND RESPOND TO THE NEEDS OF THOSE AFFECTED

As COVID- 19 took full effect in Vietnam, remote working and social distancing was implemented. We rapidly started to see the negative impacts on vulnerable people who were already below or near the poverty line before the pandemic. Immediately our team of social workers set to work from their own homes, calling a total of 1,300 families of our beneficiary children. They listened and assessed their greatest needs during this time. 

Conducting this large scale survey was vital in determining the type of support saigonchildren offered. Initially as an education charity the focus was on assisting the children with school closures and online studying. However, after over a thousand phone calls it became apparent that due to the current system there was little we could do to help impoverished children in terms of online learning. Shifting support to provide emergency food packages for families ensured our donors’ money would create the largest impact, and ensured our beneficiaries’ needs were met.

This time, for the centre of Vietnam, our dynamic school building team contacted the principals of all the schools built by saigonchildren in Quang Tri, a province heavily affected by landslides and flooding. A conclusion was drawn that again providing emergency food packages would fulfill the immediate needs of people who had suddenly lost their homes, crops and livelihood. By staying in close contact with our schools and the local authorities we can devise which locations need our help the most, and even what kind of spices will be most useful to the local people. 

2. SOURCING LOCALLY AND IN BULK TO MAXIMISE IMPACT 

COVID support was provided during and following social distancing rules were implemented. It became clear that sourcing locally minimises cost and contributes to local businesses. For the Flooding Support in Quang Tri by not transporting goods and buying locally, costs were reduced and the highest quality produce received. By doing this saigonchildren are supporting the struggling economy of the area, and supplying beneficiaries with the most suitable regional taste. 

3. COLLABORATE EFFECTIVELY WITH PARTNERS

The COVID Emergency Appeal demonstrated that having a good working relationship with local authority partners allows quick and efficient identification of beneficiaries. The local authority network spans across province, district, commune, and hamlet level, meaning our local partners have insight into who the families in need are. Saigonchildren have established a great level of trust with our local partners, working for years with local authorities in the south and having built nine schools in Quang Tri. 

The main criteria for selecting a supply partner is low cost without compromising on quality. As a charity, we always consider our obligation to donors, ensuring their entrusted money is spent as wisely and effectively as possible.

4. CLOSELY SUPERVISE EVERY STEP OF THE PROCESS

Saigonchildren successfully delivered just under 8,000 emergency packages to deprived families impacted by the consequences of COVID-19. A critical aspect of this positive outcome is that our staff were always present, closely following every step of the process from distribution.

Even though our local authority and supply partners were vital, saigonchildren have a responsibility to our donors to guarantee the packages are well-sourced, the quantity of each item is correct and they are delivered to the right people. 

Currently our team is on the ground in Quang Tri delivering relief packages and evaluating the needs of the community over the coming months. 

2020 has been a demanding year for charities in Vietnam, not only due to COVID-19 but also because of the historic disasters such as soil salinity in the Mekong Delta at the start of the year and the ongoing flooding in the central region. By restructuring some of saigonchildren’s usual programs we were able to offer relief support to those who need it the most, and will continue to apply our knowledge to help families in the centre of Vietnam.

 

SUPPORT US IN HELPING CENTRE OF VIETNAM

𝐃𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐝: https://bit.ly/3ofFiwD

𝐃𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐯𝐢𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐟𝐞𝐫: https://saigonchildren.com/donate/bank-details/ (when transferring, please write your email address and specify that you are supporting the central region)

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