|What We Do|
Vietnam is slowly emerging to become an economic powerhouse in South East Asia. The people's average living standard has improved dramatically since the late 1980s. National statistics show that GDP per capita rose from $US 220 in 1994 to $US 1,052 in 2009. However, the fast economic growth and global integration have also intensified certain traditional social problems and created new ones. As the average income rises, some problems get much worse and more visible such as income inequality.
Two of the most pressing issues are:
1. The Street Children
Vietnam currently has around 20,000 to 40,000 street children, concentrated mostly in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. However, the real number is difficult to determine. These children are either orphans or abandoned by their parents, mostly illiterate, and are forced to survive by themselves on the street.
Survival for them means doing all kinds of odd "jobs", including scavenging, shoe shining, street vending, begging, selling lottery tickets or lottery results, pick-pocketing, and pilfering in the market. Some use alcohol or illegal drugs to relieve the stress and to forget painful experiences, or simply because of peer-pressure.
Others are trained to become professional beggars. Still others commit crimes individually or by joining various street gangs. Disabled children may be sold to strangers who force them to beg on streets. Girls seem to be in particular danger as the target of sexual assault and exploitation. Having no chance to a decent future, they are often called: "Dust of Life".
2. The Disabled Person
According to the Vietnamese Red Cross, there are about 5 to 6 million people with disabilities, of which 1.1 million are children. 1 million are Agent Orange victims. With the rapid economic development, which results in many construction activities, thus work related injuries, the mobility disabled people constitute a rapidly growing population.
Currently, there is no social infrastructure to accommodate or to care for disabled people in Vietnam. Becoming a burden because of their disability, they are often abandoned by their own family. Many of them choose suicide as the way out.
Recognizing the desperate conditions in which these people are living in, Maison Chance-USA's focus is targeting essentially the street children and the disabled people of Vietnam. We provide relief missions targeting to the most disadvantaged regions of Vietnam and through education, health care, rehabilitation and vocational training programs in one of the Maison Chance locations.
However, this focus on children and disabled is not exclusive, our association is also helping other classes of extremely poor and destitute such as the old people without family who are in desperate need for help.