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A match made in … UNV Viet Nam
1 April 2009
by Luu Thi Ngoc Anh

nguyet&hans
The bride and the groom (third and fourth from the left) with their UNV friends (Photo by UNV)
On a beautiful day in late October 2008, friends, relatives and UNV volunteers gathered to send their warmest wishes to Dang Bao Nguyet and Hans Lambrecht on their marriage. It is interesting to know that Nguyet and Hans are both serving as UNV volunteers.

Happy smiles were beaming in the faces of the bride and the groom. Most of their friends know that Hans and Nguyet are UNV volunteers but not many know that they fell in love when they met at a volunteer activity they both took part in. As Nguyet often puts it jovially: “It is volunteerism that has brought us together.”

Dang Bao Nguyet is currently a National UNV volunteer – Coordinator for the working group on Ethnic minorities at the NGO Resource Centre in Viet Nam. At present, many NGOs are interested in working with and for ethnic minorities. The effectiveness of the many and varied activities implemented by numerous development partners can only be increased through fostering linkages and establishing an assured mechanism for information-sharing on programs and practical experiences. In addition, a channel for policy dialogue and cooperation between NGOs and government agencies concerned with the welfare of ethnic minorities will open new development opportunities in this field. This necessary channel for dialogue is what Nguyet and her colleagues are spending a lot of time and energy on establishing.

nguyet&hans2
Bao Nguyet (second from the left) discussing the plan of village development with villagers in Bac Ha district, La Cai province (Photo by Nguyen Minh Tuan/Enfants et Développment)
Before joining UNV, Nguyet had worked for many development projects in the mountainous and rural areas in the North and Central regions of Viet Nam. With a lot of experience of the difficult conditions in which many ethnic minorities live, she wanted to develop a long-term career and was really enthusiastic about applying her knowledge to help these marginalized groups.

Hans came to Viet Nam as a International UNV volunteer in 2006. He had previously worked for over three years in South America in primary education. When he read about the volunteer opportunity in Viet Nam, Hans decided to apply as this was very relevant to his experience and expertise. Additionally, he had never been to Viet Nam nor any other Asian countries and knew little about the region. He wanted a challenge and to put his knowledge and experience to good use. Finding a wife was not, apparently, among his initial goals!

As a UNV volunteer – Program Officer for the HIV and Education program for UNESCO in Ha Noi, his work includes supporting UNESCO and other UN agency response to assist the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training in developing education and communication information programs for HIV prevention and for reducing discrimination against PLWH. In Viet Nam, where discrimination against PLWH remains widespread and many people lack proper knowledge of HIV, these education and communication programs are gradually bringing about positive changes. Especially for students and young people, these programs provide essential knowledge.

Aside of course from the marital bliss of the newlyweds, this wedding is a source of joy for UNV Viet Nam on another level as it is sign of an ever closer linkage between national and international volunteers working in Viet Nam. Hans is certainly not the first international UNV volunteer to come here to work, then to have fallen for all things Vietnamese, but their marriage is a wonderful product of the excellent atmosphere of trust, devotion and cooperation which UNV has happily fostered in Viet Nam.

We wish all the very best to Bao Nguyet and Hans and congratulate them for their enthusiasm about volunteer work. May their commitment for community development be as long and as successful as their marriage!

 
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