VNAH views strengthening groups of and for the disabled among its most valuable long term contributions to development in Vietnam. To assist in this effort, VNAH has established a small grants program that provides limited funding to local non-governmental organizations led by and directly serving people with disabilities. This program helps to meet the needs of such groups, including training, improved income generation and other capacity building measures. By strengthening these groups, the program directly contributes to the ability of people with disabilities themselves to meet the needs of their community and to represent that community when laws, policies and programs for people with disabilities are under discussion. We believe that this assistance will help promote a vigorous community of non-governmental organizations representing and meeting numerous community needs and advance civil society in Vietnam.
The VNAH Small Grants program started about a year ago with five grants awarded to non-governmental organizations designed to strengthen the management skills of blind women leaders, improve income generation activities and promote skills training and e-library development for the sight impaired. Awards were based on grant applications submitted by interested NGOs.
In August 2002, VNAH called for a second round of the grants. Many applications received were from groups representing vision, mobility and hearing impairments, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS. Recent awards went to the Ha Noi, Thai Nguyen, Hai Phong Deaf Clubs; the Can tho and Hoi An Groups of People with Disabilities; a joint venture between the School of Social Sciences and Humanities of the National Vietnam University and the Sao Mai Technology Center for Blind Students; a joint venture of the Disabled Youth Association and the Dong Hanh Group in Ho Chi Minh City. With these grants, the NGOs held training courses in hair cutting, carpentry, sewing, weaving and computer skills.