Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Mia Coward, a native Prince Georges County Maryland, is a Graduate student obtaining her Master’s in Public Policy with a concentration in education, social policy, and non-profit leadership at the University of Maryland-College Park. Before taking two years off to get her Master's degree, Mia was a policy associate at Child Care Aware of America working on childcare and early education policy with their advocacy and communications team. She received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Media Studies at Bennett College. Mia recently worked with World Vision US in the Child Protection and Education department to intern with their All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development Team. She has also worked with organizations ranging from the Intersector Project, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and The Upper Room Global Ministries in Nashville, TN. Her interest includes improving the literacy rate for high poverty communities, influencing equity and inclusion, and grassroots innovation for marginalized communities across the world. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live poetry and trying to new cuisines. -



Is Saving an Option

08 Aug

The partnership between AP and AEPD has allowed families to have another source that can increase their monthly income or help their gardens with fertilizer. AP’s last fellow, Marcella, had the opportunity to see if certain families were able to save and if a microcredit program would work for them. This year we have the chance to dig a little deeper and try to understand if saving is possible for Agent Orange families. Many of the Agent Orange Families are aging and unable to work a consistent job or even farm their fields and take care of their children. For each family, we go into a deep dive about the possibilities of savings.

Mrs. Duong Thi Hue who is a 66 year old mother and caregiver for her two daughters and granddaughter. She deals with constant struggles and continues to overcome the toll that domestic abuse has had on her family. Although her plight is heavy, her main concern is always finding a way to ensure that her family will be okay if she dies. She spends about 3M VND ($130) per month on household necessities and her main income is the government compensation that she gets for her two mentally disabled daughters. Although she lives in poverty, she still can save some money for her family. She fears that no one will be able to take care of her girls, so she has currently saved 37M VND ($1,597) and when times are hard, she is able to pull from this instead of getting a loan. However, she tries very hard not to have to pull from her savings. When we ask her if she would be interested in a savings group, she tells us yes. Unlike many of the other families, she seems to really understand that having something for her family is better than having more right now. Any extra money she has gotten in the past year, she has placed in the savings account.

Mrs. Hue and her granddaughter as she pours some tea for us before the conversation.

Another similar example is Mr. Phan That and his family. His wife has been able to save a smaller amount of 2M ($86) but also shared with us that saving for families like those affected by Agent Orange is hard but even as she cares for her children she understands that it is important to save or try to save. She is a part of another family that wants to ensure that there is something for her children after she and husband have passed on. Although she and her husband are not interested in participating in the savings group due them not being able to contribute consistently, they were very helpful for us to gain more insight about a savings option for these families.

Ms. Hoang Thi Que is the one who tries to save money when she can.

Out of the 11 families that we met with these are the only families that have saved any amount of money. There were 3 families that seemed interested in participating in a saving group, but the rest were definitely not. The consensus I have found is that saving in most cases is not an option for Agent Orange victims. Many of them are older and their focus is on taking care of their children and doing their best to maintain their household. It’s hard to really think about a way to get these families more interested in saving money. Saving can be very complicated for them because every amount is spent on what is needed now. Understanding this is hard because as a volunteer, you want to help, and not being able to promise anything can be hard to do in these circumstances. However, I am still hopeful that the data I have collected will help to inform an option for these families to have something more in the future.

Posted By Mia Coward (Vietnam)

Posted Aug 8th, 2019

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