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Since 1994, Belgian-French non-profit organisation, Mekong Plus, has worked diligently to promote sustainable development in impoverished farming communities in Vietnam and Cambodia. Today, the organisation directly benefits around 170,000 people from the poorest backgrounds. Its projects are funded through two subsidiary social enterprises that, in addition, create sustainable and rewarding jobs for disadvantaged women from rural areas.
The inhabitants of Vietnam’s poorest rural communities are frequently forced to survive on less than US$ 0.3 a day. Over time, Mekong Plus has expanded its programmes – all designed to be sustainable in the long term – to transform life in some 460 of the country’s most needy farming villages. Its approach is holistic, combining a series of grass roots projects that includes agricultural development, environmental protection, the training of para-veterinarians and creation of micro credit initiatives. Handicrafts are taught and health initiatives introduced, with an emphasis on hygiene and the treatment of alcoholism.
Its funding organisations, Mekong Quilts and Mekong Creations, produce, export and sell in a number of shops (see our Responsible Travel section) as well as online, a range of high quality, hand-crafted bed covers, household accessories and giftwares made of sustainable materials like papier mache, silk, bamboo and water hyacinth. The excellent quality of their products is the result of tenacious hard work over the years and sustained investment in capacity building and design.
The mainly female workforce is trained in handcrafting methods, new product techniques and management skills. All are employed in a safe, comfortable environment, are well paid and receive additional benefits such as support for their children to remain in school while they work. All profits generated are reinvested into the communities via Mekong Plus projects.
All you need to do to help transform life in of some of SE Asia’s poorest communities is treat yourself and others to some of the region’s most desirable – and meaningful – home and gift wares. Visit Mekong Quilts and Mekong Creations shops in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, or buy them anytime in their online shop.
Donate to support their various programs:
US$ 5 One year in-school health program for one child
US$ 26 One year scholarship for one child
US$ 30 Latrines and clean wells for one household
US$ 42 One awareness-raising event (on either waste management, clean water, family planning, alcoholism, etc.) for 200 people
US$ 55 One micro-credit loan for one woman
US$ 85 One year of agricultural training for 20 people
US$ 250 Full training for one para-veterinarian