VIA Programs in the News

November 2017

Vietnam Alum in The New York Times

David Biggs, VIA Vietnam 1993-1996, writes about the chemicals used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War. His opinion piece is featured in Vietnam '67, where "historians, veterans and journalists recall 1967 in Vietnam, a year that changed the war and changed America."

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Indonesia Staff Member Highlighted on

Tia Setiayani, an activist and one of the youth featured in a recent NPR story, is also a VIA staff member in Yogyakarta.

...on a recent reporting trip to Indonesia, we asked young people about how they view their identity, what role religion plays in their lives, what they hope for their futures, and what they believe unifies this sprawling, pluralistic democracy.


New VIA Partner Helps Myanmar Update its Tax Structure

VIA recently formalized a partnership with Koe Koe Tech, a Yangon-based technology social enterprise. Previously, we had collaborated while partnering with Population Services International whose VIA fellow worked closely with Koe Koe Tech to launch a maternal health app. Now we'll have a fellow placed directly with the Koe Koe Tech as they expand to other sectors.

It does not help that the system for collecting taxes is hopelessly antiquated. Assessments for property taxes are based on poor proxies for value such as the number of storeys in a building and the materials from which it is built. There is no effort to account for inflation. All the relevant information is kept on paper, with almost no digital records. According to Michael Lwin of Koe Koe Tech, a firm that has launched a pilot scheme to allow local governments to offer services online, this system puts the average annual rental value of the 23,516 recorded properties in the relatively affluent city of Taunggyi at $21, when in practice buildings are let out for much more. Even if tax collectors really intended to raise money for the government, it would be hard to collect much.

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Vietnam Countertrafficking Partner Featured in The Economist

The work of VIA's long-term partner in Vietnam, the Pacific Links Foundation, is highlighted in a recent Economist article.

Huong—a pseudonym, to protect her identity—is now 20 years old. She lives in a large bungalow in Lao Cai, which she shares with a dozen women aged between 15 and 24 (an occupant is pictured). They are all survivors of trafficking networks that smuggle girls across the Vietnam-China border, sometimes to be sold as prostitutes but more often as brides. Their house, with its enormous teddy bears and fleet of fuchsia-pink bicycles, is a shelter run by Pacific Links Foundation, an American charity, which helps victims finish their education and cope with their trauma.

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Indonesia Community Partner Featured in The Guardian

VIA's programs in Indonesia often visit Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah, the world’s only Islamic boarding school for transgender people.


Social Innovation Programs Alum Wins Award in Hong Kong

Herman Chan, an alum of the Exchange for Social Entrepreneurs & Leaders (XCEL) program, was an awardee of the 2017 The Hong Kong Youth Service Award organized by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. He co-founded the social enterprise Elderpathy which advocates “active ageing” by recruiting elderly instructors for Elderly Simulation Programs.

Herman is a graduate of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). HKUST will also host a VIA fellow in 2018-2019.

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