Vietnam is fast developing country, before launching a project one must humbly check whether the NGO has specific skills, is comparatively better equipped compared to other actors like the local authorities or small entrepreneurs etc.
Some people say: "We ask people what they want before acting." But when the villagers know that your priority is handicrafts, do they tell you about the sick pig? Does one speak of fertilizers to a doctor? This approach is just not good enough.
It is tempting to simplify the reality: "I only believe in micro-credit!", "For me the solution is the fair trade!", "I want to help the children!".
Our teams live in the villages, not in the offices: they know that a mother must take care of her sick child before repaying a micro-credit.
Every team leads upfront about ten different programs: the agricultural formations, job creation through handicraft, hygiene with the latrines and the wells, mass participation in cross country for solidarity... The risk is to try everything, without strategy, and to be inefficient.
The patient and long-term approach permits to become very efficient in few years. And if something doesn't work, we analyze and then stop to make something else. Finally, the local involvement - which takes years to develop itself, takes over while refining the actions again.