Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Support Network (VICALSN)

An ELTO group from a few years back enjoy a farewell party
An ELTO group from a few years back enjoy a farewell party


VICALSN, the Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Support Network, started in 1989, as the Vietnam Action and Information Network (VAIN) and later expanded to include Cambodia and Laos.  At that time very little was known here about these three countries.  Relations between them and NZ consisted of formal diplomatic ties through embassies in Canberra and Bangkok, and we wanted to interest New Zealanders in their progress, their problems, and what we could do to help. 

And personal relationships between people from the three countries and New Zealanders were also very minimal or non-existent.  We set out to work to improve this situation and to encourage better relations and friendships and we have found that working with the ELTO programme has been a great way to build all this.   We also started some small projects over there, working through local organisations and supported by subsidy from the NZ VASS programme (now Koha). 

Since those early days, relations have improved immeasurably and NZ government aid has greatly increased.  NZ has good aid programmes, trade is developing, as is investment in industries.  Education  in particular has become a major form of aid from NZ.

Through our Newsletter and our VICALSN work on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos-centred issues we have played a part in raising the awareness in New Zealand of issues in the region.  We have been able to introduce ELTO students to other New Zealanders.  And the help we have been able to give them with their English studies, through weekly small group speaking practice - or call it chatting! -  is appreciated by them and is greatly rewarded by the pleasure of getting to know them and having opportunities of speaking with them - and visiting many of them when we travel to their countries.

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