Simon Kläntschi

Simon Kläntschi (Landmine Survivors Network Vietnam (LSN-V): Simon holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Geneva. Following his graduation, he interned at the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok and volunteered in a home for disabled children in Cuzco, Peru, where his tasks included teaching and physical therapy. Simon then worked in Berlin for the Ecumenical Network for Central Africa, a network of five German Christian humanitarian organizations which advocates for human rights and development in the Great Lakes Region. At the time of his fellowship, Simon was pursuing a dual Master’s degree in International Affairs at Sciences Po Paris and the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, specializing in International Security.

From global to local: Survivor Corps Vietnam becomes the Association of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (AEPD)

06 Jul

This summer is a very important time for Survivor Corps Vietnam, as the organization is leaving the structure of the SC global network and transforming itself into a local independent Vietnamese NGO, called “Association for Empowerment of Persons with disabilities” (AEPD). Next saturday, July 10, Survivor Corps Headquarters in Washington closes its doors as a consequence of the lack of funding triggered by the global economic crisis. This day will also mark the beginning of AEPD.

Survivor Corps has helped over 2500 landmine and cluster munitions survivors  and their families in Quang Binh province since 2003. Now AEPD is committed to continue this mission and to go beyond this by expanding its support projects to all people with disabilities.

After some initial uncertainties over the changes within the organization where I am volunteering this summer, I have realized the opportunity offering itself to me. Many things have to be done in the final stages of this localization process. During the past two weeks I have developed the logo of AEPD with the support of a great graphic designer and friend (thank you Mänu!). Also,  I have currently been preparing the content and structure of the AEPD’s new website. And maybe most importantly, a new fundraising and outreach strategy has to be set up, as from now on AEPD has to stand financially on its own feet.

AEPDs new logo

The work atmosphere in the office is good. As everyone from the small team is very busy, I can work very independently and come up with my own ideas – It is a mixture of creativity, spontaneity and learning-by-doing that is asked by my superiors Ms. Hong and Ms. Dung. However, if I find myself in difficulties with certain questions, I receive all the necessary support.

There is another reason why working with a small local development NGO is highly beneficial for me. I can learn a lot about the dynamics of community-based grassroots organizations, as well as about their challenges and difficulties. They are mainly linked to the financial dependence of national and international donors. So far I have had only theoretically knowledge about fundraising, but to see its importance in daily work life is impressive: NGOs’ activities and staff salaries depend entirely on it. This is especially visible in harsh economic times, when less donor money is available.

Luckily, AEPD has recently assured a two-year contract with the Irish development agency Irish Aid.  This grant guarantees that AEPD can keep its head above water during the difficult transition time and continue to support persons with disabilities. So the first step towards localization is done and this is a base AEPD can build upon for a successful future.

Posted By Simon Kläntschi

Posted Jul 6th, 2010

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