Spring 2008

On the Ground in Asia: To Kim Lien

Program Manager, Vietnam

To Kim Lien was the first local staff person hired in The Asia Foundation’s Vietnam office eight years ago. Among her many accomplishments, she’s most proud of a program that brings anti-trafficking and safe migration education into schools in Vietnam. Many children migrate for employment at a very young age to provide income for their families, making them vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. In response, Lien led the Foundation’s efforts to introduce Safe Migration in Schools, reaching at-risk students. The project first trained teachers on safe migration, labor, and employment issues relevant to young people who taught students using school-based campaign activities like writing and art contests, games, and performances. This is the first time these topics have ever been integrated into Vietnam’s schools.

Lien learned early in her career that coordination between various levels of government is necessary to effective development. She began her career working on rural development projects, as well as agriculture and forestry programs for the Vietnam-Sweden Cooperation Program for Rural Development, the Committee for Mountainous and Minority Areas, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. “I had chances to work at different levels of the government from the national down to villages including those in rural, mountainous, and remote areas. I gained a solid understanding of government and policy-making structures, as well as different ways of thinking, solving problems, interests of different target groups and stakeholders at all administration levels.”

Now a Program Manager for the Foundation in Vietnam, Lien has brought those experiences to her work on women’s empowerment and anti-trafficking programs, as well as labor rights, public participation, and local budget transparency programs.

Lien thrives as a facilitator and coordinator, bringing together communities, organizations, and government units to solve problems. “I am grateful for the opportunity to design and support programs for many disadvantaged groups, especially women and children, in my country,” Lien says. She says finds working with these groups tremendously inspiring. “I am happy to be able to facilitate support to those who really need it.”

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