Since last year, the Petits Frères des Pauvres – France have been involved in an initiative in Vietnam, specifically in the Dong Thap region. The goal of this program is to provide essential support to volunteers who assist elderly individuals living in extreme poverty and social isolation.
Crucial Support for Vulnerable Elderly People
At the heart of this mission are dedicated volunteers who visit elderly individuals. Some of them live in particularly challenging circumstances, often without family or sufficient financial resources to meet their basic needs. The visits from volunteers primarily offer a warm presence and emotional support to those in dire need. These volunteers also ensure that isolated elderly individuals access their rights. For instance, each elderly person has the right to receive one kilogram of rice per month, which represents most of their food for some.
During her second trip to Vietnam, Barbara Bringuier, the director of the International Federation of the Little Brothers of the Poor, was able to make home visits. These visits revealed the harsh living conditions on the ground. Many elderly individuals live alone in unhealthy housing, with old, leaky roofs.
After a year of partnership, the Petits Frères des Pauvres can already celebrate the impact of Vietnamese volunteers on the individuals they assist. This feedback validates and encourage the work of the Petits Frères des Pauvres in the Dong Khap region. However, the journey is still long, but the photos and testimonies speak for themselves.
Madame Vo Thi An – 71 years old.
A widow for 10 years with no children. A volunteer visits her every 3 to 5 days to check on her. Her late husband was abusive, leaving deep emotional scars. She experiences profound loneliness and mobility challenges, which confine her to her home permanently.
Madame Phum Thi Dût – 92 years old.
In a dire state of poverty, this woman lost her home in a fire. Fortunately, thanks to donations, a new house was built for her. A volunteer generously arranged for the making of 5 outfits for her.
The new house was constructed on her brother-in-law’s property, but regrettably, she receives no support. Her diet mainly consists of rice with sauce since she can no longer go to the market to buy vegetables.
“Thanks to their assistance, I continue to live.”
Madame Lê Thi Ré – 71 years old.
She devoted her life to caring for her parents, which prevented her from having children. She also worked as an unregistered housekeeper, living alone and without resources.
For the past few months, her 61-year-old younger sister has been taking care of her. Nevertheless, a volunteer continues to visit her because it’s crucial for her to know that she is not forgotten by the outside world. She suffers from knee pain, which hinders her mobility.
The elderly support project is a new model for Vietnam and the province. Development is progressing gradually and requires training for volunteers who often lack information on the psychology of the elderly. A dedicated training day was part of the program, covering topics such as the consequences of aging, listening and communication with the elderly, and fall prevention.
Evaluation: A Comparative Project
The project is steadily evolving, but to contribute to its continuous improvement, it’s crucial to assess it. To achieve this, a comparative project will be initiated. The aim is to expand to a suburban district of Cao Lanh, which differs socially from the initial areas, encompassing more affluent individuals. This approach will allow a comparison of the results obtained in two distinct contexts.
The Little Brothers of the Poor assess their actions both qualitatively and quantitatively. Barbara emphasized the importance of monitoring the evolution of the number of volunteers, the number of elderly individuals, and the total number of visits per year, which constitute the key indicators.
Dr. Cuu, the project’s initiator, explained that the evaluation will take place during the first quarter of 2024. The goal is to demonstrate the significance of this project to the leaders of the People’s Committee to secure future funding for the psychological care of the elderly.
This second trip was a pivotal step in the development of the partnership with the Dong Khap region. It demonstrated the program’s development and highlighted the commitment of the volunteers, despite the difficult conditions. More than ever, it became evident that this project holds vital importance for the elderly in the region.
Together, let’s combat the isolation and precariousness of the elderly!