Nicola and the other Youth Ambassadors meet community members in Vietnam. Photo by Luxy Aulich, World Vision
When I was preparing to go to Vietnam as a 2015 Youth Ambassador, I really didn’t have much of an idea of what I was going into, and my knowledge of a lot of the work World Vision does was very limited. I knew that World Vision’s Area Development Programs – or ADPs – helped the development of communities, which I was interested in learning more about, but I didn’t have a clue about how this actually worked in practice!
Over the 10 days we were in Vietnam, I learnt much more about what World Vision is doing and how their programs are benefiting the lives of millions and I think it’s really important that more people get a better understanding of what that work looks like in practice, because it really is great work!
The term ADP is a World Vision acronym that stands for ‘Area Development Program’. It describes the whole range of work World Vision does with communities that have children and families suffering from poor living conditions and human rights injustices. An ADP works with local partners for a long time – around 15 years – to help improve the well-being of children – health, education, access to clean water and sanitation and better income prospects for their parents – and eliminate any issues that cause negative impacts on them, their families and their communities. They are funded through Child Sponsorship.
While each ADP is unique, all ADPs will work with their communities to identity what aspects of their lives are detrimental to them and then make focus programs that specifically target the issues. I realised that this was a really important way of working, because rather than just giving a hand-out to communities, which would not be sustainable in the long run, it helps build the skills, experience and structures needed for these communities to support themselves in the future.
During the trip, we met a lady from an isolated rural community of the H’Mong ethnic group in the north. In this lady’s community, one of the biggest challenges they face is a lack of livelihoods. They are a farming community that grow crops like rice, but it isn’t enough to live off, and the steep mountainous environment makes it a difficult life. In the rainy seasons the mud roads are very dangerous and it is difficult to get around. So in that ADP, World Vision worked with the local community to set up a Savings Group. Around 30 people contributed monthly to the group and were able to take out a low interest loan. From this, the lady I spoke with was able to buy a goat to raise. She has bred the goat (and we got to play with the kids!) and now has a few animals that help give her more financial security. The impact that this has had on her is huge as she is a single mother with a son with disabilities who cannot work.
Initially, as I was travelling to Vietnam, I was asking myself “how do the ADPs actually help the communities they have set up in?” Well, now I have seen a practical demonstration of this model and I know for a fact that this long-term development approach that World Vision applies through its ADPs make real impacts in peoples’ lives. Because it means they really understand the needs of the community needs as the community is a partner from the start.
An ADP will help communities more by teaching them how to live in a way that can sustain without World Vision’s help rather than just handing over the funds raised directly to the people- it’s like the saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’