Ho Thi Nghia has confidently questioned the Commune People’s Council deputies about the budget for making inter-village concrete roads after only a short time participating in the project. Previously, she still thought the knowledge about the state budget unrelated to her life.
In the meeting with voters that day in Baze village, most of the participants were women because many men in the village went to work far away. At the meeting, representatives of the commune People’s Council presented information on local socio-economic development, including the construction of a concrete roadsacross the Baze with the lenghth about 300m. Nghia was also invited to this meeting with the villagers to listen to the Council’s delegate reading the report from a printed document. Having waited for the Council’s delegate to talk about the budget to make the road through her village but getting no information, Nghia raised her hand to ask the question: “Could you please let us know how much is the budget for this road going through the production area of Baze village?»
To Nghia and the women in the village, standing up to ask the deputies of the People’s Council was a huge change. Until now, Nghia still remember that was a day in the end of December 2016. Shared Nghia: “In the past, at meeting with voters, they kept saying, and they asked “Does anyone have any question ? » and no one commented. People did not understand and just participated in the meeting then left… “. Nghia said that she had been invited several times to the meeting with voters. At the meetings people just listened, sometimes having things they did understand but did not dare not speak out for the fear of speaking wrong. When the delegate mentioned the amount of money to do the works in the commune, Nghia thought the money was granted by the state, which she later understands that the money was contributed by the people to the state budget.
Photo: Ho Thi Nghia (in deep pink coat) in a group meeting
All of Nghia’s change began when she was invited by the Women’s Union to join a group of women to learn about the state budget called the Baze Community Group (September 2016). Nghia was elected to be the leader and was dispatched by her team members to go to the training on group organizing skills taught by Gio Linh Women’s Union.
Since its inception, the Baze Community Group has been organizing events and exchanges on public transparency issues monthly. Their first events were supported by Ms. Thuy, Program Officer of the Center for Development and Integration (CDI). Shared Nghia : “I like the second event in November 2016 the most, where Ms. Thuy came to share about the theme “How are people related to the state budget?” Everyone actively participated in, and I myself also got to understand how people contribute to the state budget, which I did not know before…”
After participating in the community group, Nghia herself has been more confident and willing to participate and contribute her opinions in the meetings. She has also participated in monitoring the activities implemented in her area such as inter-village road connecting Cu Dinh and Baze.
The others in Nghia’s group also changed a lot since joining the group: “In the past, everyone just knew that the state subsidizes the poor, and just reckoned that money is supposed to be from the government… Other members also actively participated just like me now, in the meetings, if we see people say something wrong or some information missing, we’d ask about it…»
Nghia thinks that the activities of the group is getting more and more practical and associated with the lives of people. Nghia hopes that the Baze community group will be sustained over time, because in addition to learning new knowledge, the members also regularly meet and interact with other groups, which they find happy doing it. Nghia also expects the trainings will be held in the commune (because the district is too far, about 30km and the women have to arrange their own tranportation).