As a student, I was lucky enough to visit Hearts for Hue for the first time as part of an intensive course over the university break. Today, I was lucky enough to help welcome the same intensive course back, some four years later.
The intensive course is run by Scope Global for the University of Adelaide and gives an opportunity for their students to gain a deeper understanding of Viet Nam, its people and culture. For Hearts for Hue, the relationship with Adelaide University and Scope Global allows us to advocate for the beneficiaries of our programmes and to raise awareness about the living conditions in rural Viet Nam.
As he did four years ago, Hearts for Hue Chairman Mr Truong Trong Khanh Khanh opened with a presentation and a question and answer session and then took Adelaide University to visit beneficiaries of their microfinance programme and the chicken raising programme for persons with disabilities.
In the spirit of knowledge sharing and awareness raising, here are some of the questions raised by the Adelaide University students, and photos of their visit to the families.
Projects to support people with disabilities
Hearts for Hue runs a number of projects to support people living with disabilities. The project most discussed today was Hearts for Hue’s work with the Thua Thien Hue Social Centre – a home of over 500 people with mental illness.
What type of disabilities do people in the Social Centre have?
- Much disability in Viet Nam is not officially diagnosed. Many of the clients are likely living with schizophrenia.
How do people come to be in the Social Centre?
- Sometimes they are brought to the Social Centre by their families who are no longer able to look after them. Others without any caregivers are found living alone in villages by the Staff of the Social Centre.
What projects do you do in the Social Centre?
- Animal husbandry program such as chicken raising, duck raising and goat raising program, and improve the soil to plant vegetable, with the main purpose of assisting people mental illness get involved in working therapy.
How do you make sure the project is sustainable?
- For the wheelchair project, we formally follow up three months after providing the wheelchair. Because we have a constant working relationship with the Social Centre, we informally monitor the other projects on an ongoing basis.
How are people with disabilities treated in Vietnamese culture?
- According to Vietnamese culture, people treat people with disability with all their kindness, and willing to help them whenever they need.
Here is an introduction to Hearts for Hue’s microfinance programme.
Who chooses the families who participate in microfinance?
- In Vietnam many things are a partnership. The local authorities have information about the local people, so they help to create a shortlist of candidates. H4H then makes the final decision about who to lend to based on the shortlist and on the business proposal.
Do borrowers ever default?
- Our repayment rate is close to 100% but there are isolated cases of default. Usually because of family circumstances such as illness.
Is the use of funds for other purposes a cause for borrowers to default?
- All events of default have been due to family circumstances such as HIV or motorbike accidents.
What happens if a default occurs?
- Firstly, remember that we have a group lending model, so this reduces the likelihood of borrowers choosing to default when they are able to pay back. When borrowers do default, it is due to extenuating circumstances.
- We pay the local management board 10% of the interest repayments, and this covers the cost of them investigating the default. They will learn the reason why.
- Because all events of default have been due to family circumstances such as HIV or motorbike accidents, we have forgiven the loans.
What do you do to help medium-sized enterprises?
- Our loans are targeted at the poorest, who are not serviced by the banks, and these people operate very small businesses. Currently, financing medium-sized enterprises are one of the biggest challenges in development financing worldwide and are not part of our mandate.
Are there collateral requirements from the borrowers?
- No, Hearts for Hue does not require any collateral to obtain a loan. However, we operate a compulsory savings programme (of just 10,000 dong per month per borrower) and if a borrower defaults this will not be returned. So this is collateral in effect, but it is a very small amount of money.
Alistair Cameron – AVID Volunteer