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Feb 15, 2022 / 16:59

Vietnamese youth join Asia-Pacific for a better post-Covid world

Plan International’s “Imagine” and “Better Today” help reduce the impact caused by prolonged lockdowns and pessimistic prospects facing young people.

Vietnamese youth have shared their experiences and stories during the Covid-19 with an expectation of building up a better world for all as the pandemic has challenged young people around the globe for the second year.

The sharing reflects activism they involve in, showing how they long for the post-Covid world through two initiatives “Imagine” and “Better Today” launched by Plan International.

“It alarms us that youth across the region are still struggling with some of the same negative impacts of Covid-19 that we saw in 2020, while also dealing with additional and compounded stressors now that we are facing the third year of disruption,” said Bhagyashri Dengle, Plan International Executive Director for Asia Pacific.

“Girls, in particular, are in dire need of more robust support from governments and social service providers.”

 Huyen, 14, from Vietnam's Lai Chau, shares thoughts for a better world. Photos: Plan International

“Imagine” is a global initiative through which Plan International encourages girls to share their hope for a better future without Covid-19.

Quyen, 13, from Vietnam’s central province of Quang Tri, said “Covid-19 is an opportunity for people to reflect and make changes for a better life. Girls need to study well and raise their voices. I hope all children and girls receive medical care.”

Meanwhile, Huyen, 14, from the northern mountain province of Lai Chau, said she dreams of a world where everyone is kind to each other, where girls can decide their own future, where the whole family is vaccinated and healthy.

 Quyen, 13, from Vietnam’s Quang Tri. 

“Better Today” summarizes the experiences and initiatives of youth in the Asia-Pacific region after 2 years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Plan International invited nine young people from five countries namely Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, and Indonesia to participate in regional workshops where they can listen to stories across the regions, write each other letters, or exchange pictures with meaningful messages.

The “Better Today” report collects their insights and shares a view of the pandemic from the perspective of young people in the region. They spoke of the loss and pain they felt because of the impacts of Covid-19 on their young lives. But their determination and fighting spirit came through as well. Youth in the Asia Pacific want to start to build a better today.

The report highlights projects from many countries in the region to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, from mental healthcare to education during social distancing, to larger activities to raise funds for the communities.

“From strangers to friends, the regional workshops were the bridges to connect us all together. We shared personal stories, laughter and tears and delivered them through the letters and photo voices. Our friends are disseminating the stories they are creating in ‘youth-led movements’ by developing many new ways to contribute to the community,” shared Ngoc Tien, 24, from Ho Chi Minh City.

 Ngoc Tien, 24, from Ho Chi Minh City, joins the fight against Covid-19 in Vietnam. 

In Vietnam, the Covid-19 pandemic with strict restrictions canceled nearly all the field trips and offline activities that youth activists had planned. Young people from different youth models such as Champions of Change, Peer Educators, Girls Clubs and Youth Advisory Committees have utilized online platforms to stay connected and motivate each other despite hardship.

“Instead of waiting for an ideal day that never comes, I choose to enjoy my life a little better every day. A better tomorrow for me is just a simple day when everyone can embrace the imperfections and difficulties of our lives and thrive for the best,” wrote Phuong Anh, Vietnam in her letter to Sreylin, Cambodia.

The “Better Today” report is the foundation for a new regional social media campaign that will encourage young people in the Asia Pacific to share their own community-generated content by asking participants to take a photo of their windows and share their hope for the future without the pandemic, using hashtag #BetterToday, #PlanABetterToday.

In this report, the global pandemic is described through different lenses of young people. There are inevitably various hardships, even loss, and pain from the devastating negative effects that Covid-19 brings to the region. But the spirit here is apparent, that youth activists in the Asia Pacific won’t wait for the storm to pass, instead, they fight the pandemic hard and start to build a better today. Stepping out of the “battle”, young activists in the region are invited to come together, listen to the personal stories and experiences of their peers in a series of Focus Group Discussions, write each other letters that are full of empathy and encouragement and see the world they long to visit through a collection of photo voices.

Plan International commits to ensuring no children or youths are left behind. Children and youth, especially girls and boys with disabilities living in poverty and other vulnerable groups, are included and prioritized in programs that seek to address and mitigate the negative impacts of Covid-19.

 Plan International Vietnam.