Empowering people with disabilities

Your support is helping people like Thu and his wife, Linh. Photo: Phan Tan Lam/Caritas Australia.

Vietnam has made significant economic and social progress in recent decades. Yet in spite of this, poverty and inequality remain prominent, particularly in rural areas where people with disabilities are more likely to experience discrimination and stigmatisation.

Currently, there are more than half a million children in Vietnam living with a disability. Even though the right to an education is mandated by Vietnamese law, thousands of school-aged children living with a disability stay at home or sit uninvolved in classrooms. Additionally, the lack of specialised school facilities and disability inclusion training for teachers mean that many children with a disability cannot have enriching or meaningful experiences at school.

Thanks to your generosity, Caritas Australia is able to work with local partners in Vietnam to implement programs designed to drive disability inclusion by building awareness among communities and providing essential life skills training to people living with disability.

Thu helps make incense sticks near his home. Photo: Phan Tan Lam/Caritas Australia.

When Thu was only 12 years old, he lost his leg after stepping on an unexploded land mine from the Vietnam War. Living with a disability in rural Vietnam presented many challenges for Thu, who worked mainly as a rice farmer. After his wife, Linh, suffered a stroke, Thu also had to take on the additional role as her carer.

Thu joined the Empowerment of People with Disabilities program, supported by Caritas Australia through our local partner, the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD).

Through the program, Thu learnt livelihood, financial and independent living skills and also joined a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), where he could interact with other people with disabilities.

The VSLA helped Thu to obtain a loan so that he could set up a barber shop and earn extra income to support his family. The program helped him build an accessible toilet for Linh, who has also become more independent thanks to the support of a physiotherapist.

Program Snapshot: Empowerment of People with Disabilities

The program first started in 2018, and around 1,800 children with disabilities and their caregivers have benefitted from health, education and sustainable livelihoods support.

Developed by our partner the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, this program aims to empower adults and children with disabilities to actively participate in their communities. The key focus is physical and mental wellbeing, as well as the development of sustainable livelihoods.

Caritas Australia works with people with disabilities through parental training, community participation, vocational training and livelihood development.

The program has helped:

106 children and youth

with disabilities gain improved access to quality healthcare.

29 children and youth

with disabilities have access to quality education through inclusive school initiatives, home-based or community-based education.

45 community members

and caregivers participated in savings and loans and livelihood activities.

303 people

reported increased income from livelihood interventions supported by the project.

Thanks to your pivotal support, we have been able to reach out to many people with disabilities in Vietnam and across the world.

Lan's story

Mrs Lan with her two children, Quan and Loah. Photo: Phan Tan Lam/Caritas Australia.

Lan* is a mother of three children living in the Quang Tri province in Vietnam. Her eight-year-old son, Quan*, and 12-year-old daughter, Loah*, both have a vision impairment. Lan often had to take her children to Hanoi for eye treatment.

However, it was costly for her family to travel and their income was not stable and she feared for the future of her children.

Lan was determined to do everything in her power to help create a brighter future for her children. She joined the Empowerment of People with Disabilities project, run by Caritas Australia’s partner, SRD.

With your support and the help of our partner, Quan and Loah were able to join community-based classrooms so that they could interact with other children living with disabilities. Lan has volunteered to help run the classes and is now a leader of a parents’ group in her area. Her children are more confident and are looking forward to completing their schooling.

Phuong's story

Phuong doing school work/colouring. Photo: Caritas Australia.

Phuong* was born with hydrocephalus, a medical condition that causes seizures, and makes speaking and walking difficult.

Without a sustainable income, Phuong’s parents were not equipped to manage the growing needs of a child born into poverty with a severe disability.

He needed specialist therapy and hospital treatments that his parents could not afford-a situation many families in low income, rural areas of Vietnam face.

Thanks to your generosity and support, Phuong and his family received support from the Empowering People with Disabilities program, which is supported by Caritas Australia and implemented through our partner SRD.

He can now access a rehabilitation therapist and community-based classes, and his parents have joined a support group for parents of children living with disabilities.

Along with your generous support, this program is also supported by the Australian Government, through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

*Pseudonyms used.