Second Chance Training Course in Vietnam: The battle against discrimination and social isolation of former young offenders

Second Chance Training Course in Vietnam: The battle against discrimination and social isolation of former young offenders

Second Chance Training Course in Vietnam: The battle against discrimination and social isolation of former young offenders 6000 4000 2nd Chance

• The Second Chance Project seeks to reinsert former juvenile delinquents into society and prevent other young people at risk to violate the law.

• Representatives from Vietnam, Lithuania, South Africa and Peru strengthened their capacities as youth workers for 9 days visiting social assistance organizations in Vietnam.

From 24 February to 4 March, the first training course for the Second Chance project was held and brought together youth workers from Vietnam, Lithuania, South Africa and Peru, in order to understand the social phenomenon that encompasses juvenile delinquency in each country and resolve the great question after these young people serve their condemn: how to reinsert them into a society that discriminates and stigmatizes them?

In order to achieve this goal, these youth workers gathered in the cities of Thai Nguyen and Hanoi, visiting different organizations that work to include vulnerable populations in Vietnam. Thus, during the first two days of introduction, they discovered similarities and differences in the situation of juvenile centers that are responsible for rehabilitating these young offenders  and that often do not fulfill their function for several reasons such as the lack of logistics and human resources, as well as budget and a psychological monitoring plan. They were also able to know the variety of drugs and their popularity in each country, the consequences of consumption and the newfangled methadone detoxification program that the government of Vietnam applies, a substance that reduces the consumption of opioids by eliminating abstinence symptoms and anxiety.

This group of young people had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with civil organizations of ex-drug users and sex workers, who expressed how difficult is to deal with and fight against the prejudices and stigmas of society, starting with their own communities, because if anyone tried to start a business, no neighbor supported him and marginalized him for his past.

As for the situation of sex workers, they are now more protected, empowered and organized in such a way as to defend their rights. During the exchange of experiences, they assured that if they had the opportunity to choose between pursue a regular career and being sex workers, they would prefer the first option to not have to bear the rumors of a community that constantly judges them without knowing that most of them are forced by circumstances to sell their bodies for economic needs linked to sick relatives or extreme poverty.

On the other hand, they knew the valuable work of the Blue Dragon Foundation, which rescues children in abandonment situation in the streets and promotes their reintegration through art, with dance, music and theater workshops, in order to discover their talents so they can exploit their potential at a professional level when they are adults. In addition, they try to bring the child together with his family, if is his or her will, because most of them run away from home for being abused, sexually violented or lack of resources to feed or study. In addition to this work, the organization rescues children in employment and sexual exploitation, victims of human trafficking who are captured with wiles to be taken to the border with China and live in subhuman conditions. So far, they have managed to rescue more than 800 children, who were given a personalized psychological follow-up and the legal support to obtain justice for them.

To understand how social organizations work, they met the Community Development Initiatives Support Center (SCDI), who are responsible for identifying community leaders pursuing a change in their localities. Through training, they achieve their constitution and formalization as independent groups and are strengthened in such a way that they can endure in time. Each organization is different and the methodology used varies depending on the context in which they operate and the mission they want to achieve.

Finally, they visited the Hoa Binh Social Work Centre, which aim is to host children and elderly people in abandonment situation, including interns with different abilities. Many emphasized the inclusion work carried out by this organization through the connivance between children and the elderly, since in other countries it is customary to separate both groups by age.

However, in this center they all form a family, creating bonds that replace the lack of family or parents and allows the youngest to develop theirselves in an inclusive and equality environment. The work of the volunteers is based on artistic and dynamic activities, with the objective of increasing the different skills that each one possesses.

The activities ended in an event with the organization Ruby Model Transgender, which provide counseling and prevention of HIV and STD for the LGBT community and hormonal therapies for transgender people. They displayed all their creativity on a runway show inspired by Vietnamese culture and demonstrated their talent in singing and performance as drag queens, without fear of being judged.

After knowing the work of each of these organizations and sharing with their members, the representatives of Lithuania, South Africa and Peru, returned to their countries to apply what they learned in their organizations and develop social advertising campaigns aimed at increasing local awareness of the reintegration of former juvenile delinquents.

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