PROTECTING VIETNAM’S CHILDREN
“BECOMING A MOTHER SHOWED ME THE REAL IMPACT OF MY LIFE-SAVING WORK WITH UNICEF”
AS A MOTHER OF TWO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF FIVE, YOU’D EXPECT UNICEF WORKER LARA VU TO JUST BE WORRYING ABOUT WHICH SCHOOL IS THE BEST TO SEND THEM TO, KEEPING HER KIDS HEALTHY OR WHETHER SHE IS SPENDING ENOUGH TIME WITH THEM. BUT MOTHERHOOD SPARKED A DIFFERENT KIND OF GOAL FOR LARA, WHO, ON TOP OF BEING A HANDS-ON PARENT TO HER OWN YOUNG CHILDREN, DEDICATES HER WORKING LIFE TO HELPING THE CHILDREN WHO NEED IT MOST.
Lara heads up UNICEF’s Ho Chi Minh office, where she focuses on making a lasting difference to the lives of Vietnamese children. Becoming a mum was a pivotal moment in Lara’s career; in her 13 years with UNICEF, this helped her see the difference her work makes through the eyes of the parents whose children she helps.
She tells us: “Diarrhoea kills approximately 3,000 of Vietnam’s children every year; a preventable infection spread by germs and lack of adequate sanitation facilities1. As a mum, I know the loss of one child is one too many. There is nothing more powerful than the love for your child – you would give everything to protect them.”
Lara actively works to help educate Vietnamese schools and communities, to explain how a simple thing like a toilet can have lasting positive effects on a person’s health, safety and security. With support from Domestos and the Unilever Foundation, the programme aims to improve sanitation nationwide. Lara continues:
“The programmes work with communities to empower local community leaders, families and children, to implement life-saving solutions. We work with them to give them the knowledge and tools they need to be able to protect their family – building long-lasting solutions that they implement based on their needs and budget. This ensures the sustainability of our programmes to impact children today and the future generations of Vietnam.”
So why does Lara love her job? “What’s not to love? Many of the families that I visit, when given just a little bit of transformative support, can help themselves to create a better future for their child. I am so fulfilled when I come home and tuck my kids into bed, knowing that I’ve helped other children have a better night’s sleep as well.”
Domestos and the Unilever Foundation’s partnership with UNICEF is now in its fourth year, and has already reached 1,320,000 people. Of those reached, 655,000 are now living in ‘open defecation free’ communities2. Spokesperson for Domestos Julia Lloyd says: “Still today, globally, one child dies of diseases related to poor sanitation every two minutes3. Our mission is to put an end to the spread of germs and provide access to clean and safe toilets for people worldwide.” Every mum can help more mums, like Lara, make a difference.
To find out what you can do, go to DomestosforUNICEF.com.
1 http://www.unicef.org/vietnam/media_18825.html (Apr 2012)
2 Figures are based on actual reported beneficiaries reached to-date in conjunction with funds dispersed in 2012 - 2014
3 WHO/UNICEF JMP, Update on Drinking Water and sanitation, Update 2014