So the day started off with our last lecture at UEF, a brief overview of Buddhism in Vietnam. This was to prepare us for our later visit to the Xá Lợi Pagoda. Anywho, on the way we stopped at the street corner where Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolated to protest South Vietnam’s persecution of Buddhists.
I think that the visit to Quảng Đức’s memorial was perfectly timed. It was inspiring to think about how a religion once targeted so harshly is now a popular and respected religion in Vietnam.
Anywho, after visiting the beautiful Xá Lợi Pagoda (Buddha housed in temple shown above) we visited VinaCapital. (I found no good pictures representing VinaCapital, so here is a lovely flower arrangement in the lobby of the building we were in.)
VinaCapital Foundation is an NGO (which stands for non-governmental organization for all you laymen like me). VinaCapital focuses on helping children have the ability to be contributing members of society regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, etc. The first program they started with was focused on helping children with congenital heart defects. They now do many other programs such as training doctors and providing medical equipment, a scholarship program for bright girls from ethnic minorities, providing children with hearing aids, etc.
It’s fairly obvious that VinaCapital helps Vietnam on a micro scale. Saving children makes a tremendous difference to families. But does VinaCapital affect Vietnam as a whole? Welp, pretty much. When you make a sick child healthy, not only are you providing that child the opportunity to become a contributing member of society, but you free up the family, especially the mother, to get a job and improve their situation. This company aids the development of Vietnam in a very different way from previous companies we’ve visited. While Phú Mỹ Hưng and VSIP both attract foreign investment and provide job opportunities, VinaCapital helps people and families be able to rise from poverty and grow the middle class. Both help to increase opportunities for growth in very different ways, and I believe that the different approaches compliment each other. By increasing the ability of families to work and achieve and providing opportunities to do so the approaches work well together to grow Vietnam’s emerging middle class.