Final notes by Sandra, after one year with Thiện Chí

After her 1 year placement based at the Ham Thuan Nam site office as a Fundraising Trainer through the AVID (Australian Volunteer for International Development) program, Sandra Robinson reflects on her volunteer experience.........

Sandra" My AVID volunteer placement with a Vietnamese NGO in the southern province of Bình Thuan was meant to be challenging in relations to its location. Thien Chi ("Goodwill" in English), Centre for Community Support and Development is located in Ham Thuan Nam district on the outskirts of Phan Thiet City, 200 km from Ho Chi Minh City.

This local NGO with an enthusiastic, experienced and dedicated local staff of approx 62, is working collaboratively with local authorities to reduce poverty and increase the standard of living in 40 rural communes. Education & Health, Employment Creation, Agriculture & Livestock Techniques, Women's Rights and an interest free micro loan program are just some of the ongoing project areas supported.

On arrival in January 2013, I was immediately immersed into the projects being delivered. As a Fundraising Trainer, I found this opportunity to profile households, and visit projects in the field first-hand provided such a solid grounding into what the organisation is trying to achieve and the funding problems it faces.

And what an amazing difference Thien Chi is making! I am humbled by the wonderful people I have met and their personal stories I have been privileged to share...... Without the grass-roots support provided by Thien Chi, many of these families would have no real hope for a better future.

The Thien Chi Fundraising Team has been cooperative and enthusiastic and has overwhelmingly contributed to the success of my assignment. From day one they have been prepared to listen and learn which provided the basis for an interactive and mutually beneficial working relationship. As a result, their increased capacity is a credit to their commitment and ongx`oing dedication to improve the living standards in their communities.

A special mention must be made of the genuine support, guidance and friendship extended by Ms Anh Vu Thi which has, without question, enriched my Viet Nam experience.

After 12 months in Viet Nam, I now feel a part of Thien Chi and its mission. I consider myself 'lucky' to be placed by AVID in such a worthwhile, committed organisation and this interesting location has allowed me to appreciate the challenges faced by these rural Vietnamese communities."

Sandra Robinson, January 2014