President Reuven Rivlin visited Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday as part of his state visit to Vietnam. The visit marked the first by a president of Israel to the city.
The president and his wife, Nechama Rivlin, opened their visit to the city by touring a model cow dairy established in 2013 by MASHAV (the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ international development program), together with the Ho Chi Minh regional authorities.
The dairy, which houses 200 cows, is based on an Israeli model using technology developed by leading Israeli companies in the field. Israeli experts assisted in training the dairy workers, and continued to provide professional guidance. In addition, the dairy acted as a center of excellence for the local area, and accordingly the staff regularly traveled to other dairies in the area to help farmers utilize Israeli methods.
Rivlin went on to address a Vietnam-Israeli economic conference where he oversaw the signing of a research-and-development cooperation agreement between the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist, and the Vietnamese National Technology Innovation Fund. The agreement was aimed at laying the foundation for bilateral support in industrial R&D projects involving Vietnamese and Israeli companies.
At the beginning of the conference, the president said, “When the State of Israel was very young, we, the Israelis, called ourselves Sabras. Sabra is the fruit from the cactus plant and only grows in the desert. Like the sabra, we managed to provide water and food to make us flourish even when we didn't have enough water.
“We did it by becoming experts in making the most out of every drop. We have a shared vision, and we must let this vision grow together. Only together, can we face global challenges. If we cooperate in agriculture, if we use Israeli technology to improve Vietnamese production, we can ensure food security for millions of people around the world.”
The president’s last stop in Ho Chi Minh City was to visit the TOM laboratory, a “Tikun Olam” project to help those with special needs. The laboratory was founded in 2013 by the Zamir organization led by Josh Gottesman and Sefi Attias, and a large group of volunteers from Israel and around the world.
The laboratory has created solutions for problems faced by children with special needs; examples included the use of revolutionary 3D printers to create a hand for a child with poorly developed arms, and they worked to build a special wheelchair for another child.
The President praised their work, and thanked them for their dedication. He said, “Tikun Olam, healing a fractured world, is one of the most important values for us as Jews, a basic tenet to making the world a better place.”