Monday, November 16, 2015

WELLA-UNICEF Making Waves Programme Launches Vocational Hairdresser Training for Vulnerable Youth in Viet Nam

Holding a comb and the scissors in her hands, Thai Thuy Dung carefully trims a mannequin’s hair while following the instructions of her mentor.  Although this is only a practice session Thuy Dung is excited about the prospect of becoming a future hairdresser.

Raised in a poor family in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Viet Nam’s largest metropolis, Thuy Dung dropped out of middle school to help her grandparents sell vegetables on the streets which exposed her to many dangers.

Thai Thuy Dung follows the haircutting instructions of the mentor.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Nutrition in Vietnam’s urban centres

Field diary, part two

In my previous blog post, I described visiting remote Hmong communities in the mountains of Vietnam, where levels of undernutrition are extremely high – in some areas stunting is as high as 75 percent. For a complete contrast, the next stop on my visit was to Ho Chi Minh City. It is a huge sprawling city of at least 10 million people.

Stunting in Ho Chi Minh City is low, at 7 percent. However, exclusive breastfeeding is also very low, at only 1 percent. Many mothers – up to half – have C-sections, often by choice, and never start breastfeeding. Instead they feed their infants with formula, which does not have the same health and nutrition benefits as breast milk. Mothers who work in factories usually stop breastfeeding as soon as they return to work.

© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Christiane Rudert
A mother practicing skin-to-skin care at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nutrition in the mountains of Viet Nam

Field diary, part one

I recently travelled to the mountains in the far north of Viet Nam with UNICEF colleagues and the Ministry of Health to visit a UNICEF-supported nutrition programme aiming to improve child nutrition among the minority Hmong people. The Hmong, numbering around a million in Viet Nam, live in remote mountain villages and cultivate rice and some maize on steep terraced fields.

The levels of undernutrition among the Hmong – as measured by stunting (when a child is too short for their age) – are extremely high. In some areas stunting is as high as 75 percent. I don’t recall coming across such high rates anywhere else in the world. The average in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai is 40 percent, almost twice the national average in Viet Nam.

© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Christiane Rudert
A H'mong infant is fed nutrient-rich porridge, prepared at the child feeding and care club in Lao Cai

Monday, November 9, 2015

Co-creation Workshop in Viet Nam Seeks to Solve Serious Global Problems with Wearable and Sensors

While Viet Nam is well known for its ICT community, a recent UNICEF workshop focused on understanding how to apply technology, not how to build it. Built on a series of “what if” questions, the UNICEF Innovation Lab in Viet Nam asked; What if we could get a room full of smart people with different backgrounds and expertise to focus on a grand challenge to accelerate the use of technology to make a positive impact on the lives of children? What if we could inspire these innovators with a new world of possibilities? The ask built on the Wearables for Good design challenge that was launched earlier this year by UNICEF, ARM and frog.

In designing the Viet Nam event, there were collaborative inputs from the local maker community, agile developers, design thinking & creative professionals and even the venue was a community based art education facility. And the results were astounding.