On September 24-25, 2019, U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter together with the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Madame Baikham Katthiya, and representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Education Laos, and local authorities attended the USAID Okard project’s community awareness raising and screening activities in Kouymor village, Kham district, Xieng Khouang province. USAID Okard Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) facilitators from the Quality of Life Association (QLA), a local non-profit association, led the activities.
USAID works with the Government of Laos, World Education, Humanity & Inclusion, and civil society organizations to promote disability inclusive policies so that no person is left behind. The USAID Okard project aims to improve access to quality health and rehabilitation services, increase job opportunities for persons with disabilities, and strengthen health and economic empowerment through stakeholder engagement. CBID is a demonstration model that connects the project’s large scale efforts to individuals and communities through case management and community mobilization in two districts of Xieng Khouang and Savannakhet provinces.
Ambassador Bitter first joined the community awareness raising and mobilization session, where CBID facilitators invited the entire village to learn about the different health conditions that can cause difficulty in functioning in order to find out whether any community members have one of these conditions. By answering questions and provoking discussion about disability, CBID facilitators also laid the groundwork for a shift towards more inclusive attitudes and behaviors.
After the group session, the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Madame Baikham Katthiya tried her hand at conducting a screening interview to identify a community member’s difficulties in functioning. CBID facilitators use tablets to screen individuals who could benefit from case management while also providing data that the government of Laos can use to inform future health and inclusion efforts.
The Ambassador was impressed with the well-organized, compassionate work of the QLA team, and expressed her optimism about the future of a more inclusive Laos where persons with disabilities can reach their full potential. “I was impressed with the work of these CBID facilitators,” said Ambassador Bitter. “By helping persons with disabilities access and take advantage of economic and social opportunities, the Okard project demonstrates the American people’s support for Lao citizens in building a more inclusive, healthy, and prosperous Lao PDR.”
Deputy Minister Madame Baikham Katthiya shared, “I am so glad and honored to attend this activity in Kham District, where we are implementing the activities of the project right now. Particularly, we are supporting the persons with disabilities due to UXO, from birth, and from accidents. They will get the opportunity to access healthcare, rehabilitation, and income generation so they can support their families. Also, the project supports stakeholder engagement in our society.”
USAID Okard has completed community awareness raising and screening in 21 of the 35 target villages in Xieng Khouang to date, with approximately 1,750 people attending community awareness raising and approximately 500 people screened. Once these activities are completed in all villages, the project will move on to the next steps of CBID, including case management.
The visit illustrated the strong and continuing commitment of the United States government and Lao government to work together to support disability inclusive development in Lao PDR.
World Education is pleased to announce the official launch of the USAID Okard project.
“This new agreement marks an important milestone in our countries’ partnership to enhance the
independence and functional ability of persons with disabilities through equal access to health
and social services in Laos,” said U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter.
On May 16, the Country Director of World Education Laos, Ms Sarah Bruinooge and the Director
General of the Department of Policy to Devotees Disability and the Elderly and Head of the
Secretariat of the National Committee for Disabled People and the Elderly of the Ministry of
Labor and Social Welfare, Mr. Khamping Sengtannalat signed the Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) for the USAID Okard Activity funded by The United States Agency for
International Development (USAID), U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter witnessed the MoU signing.
USAID Okard builds on previous achievements through USAID’s Training, Economic
Empowerment, Assistive Technologies and Medical Rehabilitation (TEAM) project, which
provided assistance to nearly 6,000 persons with disabilities or impairment. The TEAM project
also trained more than 500 health professionals and local partners.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Government of Laos to help persons with
disabilities live full and productive lives.”
ໃນປີ 2017, ອົງການ ເວີລ໌ດເອດຢູເຄຊັນ ໄດ້ຈັດຕັ້ງ ແລະ ນໍາພາ ກິດຈະກໍາລົງສໍາຫລວດ ຄວາມຕ້ອງການທີ່ຍັງບໍ່ທັນໄດ້ຮັບການຕອບສະໜອງ ຂອງຜູ້ລອດຊີວິດຈາກ ລບຕ ທີ່ດຳລົງຊີວິດໃນ ສປປ ລາວ. ອີງຕາມສະຖິຕິຖານຂໍ້ມູນ ຈາກຫ້ອງການ ຄະນະກຳມະການຄຸ້ມຄອງແຫ່ງຊາດ ເພື່ອແກ້ໄຂ ບັນຫາລະເບີດບໍ່ທັນແຕກ ທີ່ຕົກຄ້າງຢູ່ ສປປ ລາວ ຈຳນວນຜູ້ລອດຊີວິດຈາກ ລບຕ ທັງໝົດໃນທົ່ວປະເທດແມ່ນປະມານ 15,000ຄົນ. ອົງການ ເວີລ໌ດເອດຢູເຄຊັນ ຮ່ວມກັບບໍລິສັດ ສຳຫລວດ ອີນໂດໄຊນາ ລົງສຳຫລວດເກັບກຳ ຂໍ້ມູນຜູ້ລອດຊີວິດ ເຊັ່ນ: ຂໍ້ມູນດ້ານການປິ່ນປົວ, ດ້ານເສດຖະກິດ ແລະ ຂໍ້ມູນດ້ານອື່ນໆທີ່ກ່ຽວຂ້ອງ ຈາກຜູ້ລອດຊີວິດ ຈຳນວນ 300ຄົນ ຈາກແຂວງ ຊຽງຂວາງ, ສະຫວັນນະເຂດ ແລະ ອັດຕະປື.
ທ່ານ ນາງ ດຣ ໂຈ ເດີແຮມ ຈາກໂຮງຮຽນພາກວິຊາສຸຂະພາບສາທາລະນະສຸກ ຄະນະແພດສາດ, ມະຫາວິທະຍາໄລຄິນສະແລນ, ປະເທດອົດສະຕຣາລີ (School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland) ເປັນຫົວໜ້າທິມໃນການອອກແບບເຄື່ອງມືເກັບກໍາຂໍ້ມູນ ແລະ ວິໃຈຜົນໄດ້ຮັບ ຈາກຜູ້ຕອບແບບສອບຖາມ ຈໍານວນ 300ຄົນ. ບົດລາຍງານຜົນໄດ້ຮັບຂອງການລົງສຳຫລວດແມ່ນເວົ້າເຖິງລາຍລະອຽດ ຂອງຄວາມຕ້ອງການທີ່ຍັງບໍ່ທັນໄດ້ຮັບການຕອບສະໜອງຂອງຜູ້ລອດຊີິວິດ ແລະ ບັນດາຂໍ້ແນະນຳຕ່າງໆແມ່ນໄດ້ນຳສະເໜີ ແລະ ປຶກສາຫາລືໃນກອງປະຊຸມເຜີຍແຜ່ຜົນໄດ້ຮັບຂອງການລົງສຳຫລວດ ເຊິ່ງໄດ້ຈັດຂື້ນຢູ່ນະຄອນຫລວງວຽງຈັນ ໂດຍມີຕົວແທນເຂົ້າຮ່ວມຈາກ ໂຮງໝໍແຂວງ, ອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງສາກົນ ແລະ ຕາງໜ້າຈາກ ຫ້ອງການ ຄະນະກຳມະການຄຸ້ມຄອງແຫ່ງຊາດ ເພື່ອແກ້ໄຂ ບັນຫາລະເບີດບໍ່ທັນແຕກ ທີ່ຕົກຄ້າງຢູ່ ສປປ ລາວ. ໃນຂະນະທີ່ຄວາມຕ້ອງການຂອງບຸກຄົນທີ່ໄດ້ກໍານົດໃນໄລຍະການສໍາຫຼວດ ເຊັ່ນ: ອຸປະກອນເຄື່ອງຊ່ວຍອໍານວຍຄວາມສະດວກຕ່າງໆ, ການຊ່ວຍເຫລືອດ້ານສຸຂະພາບຈິດ ແລະ ການເຂົ້າຮອດເຂົ້າເຖິງການບໍລິການດ້ານສຸຂະພາບ ເຊິ່ງຍັງຄົງເປັນບັນຫາທີ່ທ້າທາຍຫຼັກ, ການສື່ສານທີ່ດີກ່ວາເກົ່າ ລະຫວ່າງຄູ່ຮ່ວມງານດ້ານການພັດທະນາ, ບັນດາອົງການຈັດຕັ້ງປະຕິບັດກິດຈະກຳການຊ່ວຍເຫລືອ ແລະ ພະນັກງານສຸຂະພາບ ຈະຊ່ວຍປັບປຸງລະບົບການຄຸ້ມຄອງແຕ່ລະກໍລະນີ ແລະ ຊ່ອງທາງນດ້ານການປິ່ນປົວ
ໂດຍມີຂໍ້ມູນດັ່ງກ່າວນີ້ ອົງການເວີລ໌ດເອດຢູເຄຊັນ ຫວັງວ່າ ຈະເສີມຂະຫຍາຍການວາງແຜນຂອງລັດຖະບານລາວໃນການໃຫ້ການຊ່ວຍເຫຼືອຜູ້ລອດຊິວິດຈາກ ລບຕ ຢ່າງມີປະສິດທິພາບ ພາຍໄຕ້ແຜນຍຸດທະສາດລວມຂອງຄົນພິການ.
In 2017 World Education lead research into identifying the unmet needs of UXO survivors living in Laos. According to the National Regulatory Authority there are approximately 15,000 UXO survivors living in Laos. World Education worked with Indochina Research Ltd. (IRL) to collect individual stories, medical conditions, economic statuses, and other influential factors of 300 UXO survivors from Xieng Khouang, Savannakhet, and Attapeu Province.
Dr. Jo Durham (School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland) led the design of the tools used in field data collection and analyzed the results from the 300 respondents. The final report detailing an analysis of the unmet needs of UXO survivors and subsequent recommendations, were presented and discussed by representatives from the NRA, provincial hospitals, and iNGOs at a workshop in Vientiane. While the individual needs identified during the research such as assistive devices, mental health treatment, and general accessibility to health services remain at the forefront of survivors’ challenges, better communication between development partners, implementation organizations and health workers will dramatically improve case management and treatment pathways.
With this information, World Education hopes to strengthen the Government of Laos’ planning of delivering effective victims’ assistance under a broader disability inclusion strategy.
The goal of the USAID funded World Education TEAM project was ambitious: to enable people with disabilities, especially women and girls, to attain and maintain maximum independence to fully and equally participate in all aspects of life.
The stories in this book are stories of hope and resilience, and they illustrate the contribution that World Education’s USAID-funded TEAM project has made towards the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities to access improved services and to enjoy the same quality of life as others in the Lao PDR.
Click the picture below to see the e-book version of TEAM’s “Celebrating Diversity: Stories of Hope and Resilience”.
World Education Laos celebrated our 25th anniversary in Lao PDR on September 15th, 2017! Over the past 25 years, we have worked hard in support of our mission to engage and empower Lao communities, families, and individuals through programs in education, health, mine action, and economic development. Our projects have taken place in every province and have spanned across many various sectors, from Lao textiles to credit unions.
“I don’t blame my parents that I was born like this. I don’t blame fate that I am different from others. I don’t want your pity. I will prove to myself and the rest of the world that I’ve got willpower, perseverance, courage, ability, and my value as a human being is the same as yours.” – Douangchay Southamamvong, Savannakhet.
As part of World Education’s USAID-funded TEAM project, sub-recipient ADDP worked to organize the “Para Sports Awareness Raising Program” through the development of wheelchair basketball in local provinces from May 2016 – August 2017. As a part of this initiative, a short film named “We All Can” was developed to show how persons with disabilities can be empowered and motivated by sports as an entry point to social integration.
The film was produced, filmed, and directed by Anysay Keola from Lao New Wave Cinema, a local film company with international recognition.
Khammouane is the Deputy Project Manager for World Education’s Resilient Livelihoods for the Poor project, which enables 400 of the poorest households in Lao Ngam District, Saravane Province to have sustainable livelihoods that last beyond the project. Each household in the project cohort receives a productive asset (for example, livestock) and comprehensive support through fortnightly household visits, training sessions, and asset support grants to help them plan towards their future.
In 2007, Khammouane received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Mahachulalongkhorerajavidy
However, Khammouane wanted to support his family, so he began working for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) as an English translator in Lungnamtha Province. After one year, he continued translation work for the Service Fraternal d’Entraide (SFE) in Sekong Province.
In August 2013, Khammouane began working in microfinance for GIZ in Lao Ngam District, Saravane Province, and he really enjoyed it. As a monk, Khammouane was taught that we should help people who may not have the resources or the privileges to help themselves, and he loved how these values directly corresponded to international development work. Thus, when Khammouane finished his contract with GIZ after two years, he began working for World Education’s Resilient Livelihoods for the Poor project in October 2015.
Khammouane’s favorite part of his job is working with his staff to support the poorest households in Lao Ngam District in developing sustainable livelihoods; he believes it is a wonderful opportunity to support others and give back to the community. He is proud of his staff, who all work together to produce amazing results.
In the future, Khammouane would like to continue working in livelihood support as a Project Manager. He would like to work in Pakse District, Champasak Province, so he can be with his wife and two-year-old son. We wish you all the best, Khammouane, and we thank you for all of your hard work!
Rosita Boland, a journalist for The Irish Times, teamed up with Mark Whiteside from the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to visit UXO survivors in Xieng Khouang Province, the most heavily bombed province in Laos. Boland reflects on the disastrous effects of what is now referred to as the “Secret War,” in which the U.S. dropped 270 million bombs on Laos between 1964 and 1973, in order to prevent supplies being taken into Vietnam during the war between the communist north and the U.S.-backed south.
Boland visits UXO survivors Yeyang Yang and Khammeung Phommalein, whom World Education supported with medical compensation and peer-to-peer support. Of Yeyang, Boland writes: “Now Yang goes into other communities to share his story and support other survivors. A couple of years ago he would never have agreed to talk to a journalist, much less to be photographed. His courage and ability to adapt are heroic.”
Read more of Boland’s insightful, incredibly eloquent piece, Death from below in the world’s most bombed country.
On 27 April 2017, the USAID-funded World Education Laos (WEL) TEAM project organized the seventh coordination meeting with 36 participants, including USAID, WEL, and TEAM’s 14 current sub-recipients. The meeting took place at the Learning House for Development in Vientiane.
WEL’s TEAM project and its sub-recipients shared their latest achievements and progress; emphasis was placed on learning from one another, and developing synergies with each other, in order to develop the rehabilitation and disability sectors in Laos. In addition, the importance of outcome measurement and accountability to demonstrate tangible change in the lives of beneficiaries was highlighted. As WEL-TEAM project’s Technical Director Bernard Franck stated, “It is so important that an organization can demonstrate its capacity to change the lives of people.”
Two of WEL-TEAM’s sub-recipients, QLA and CRS, joined together to distribute assistive devices in Khammouane Province for QLA to learn from CRS’s experience of assistive devices provision and monitoring. QLA was able to observe both the achievements and challenges of the distribution process and reflect on how they can improve their own practice in Xieng Khouang. For the future, it was agreed that the procurement and distribution of assistive devices must immediately follow the medical screening process, and that appropriate assistive devices must be given to the appropriate users.
LDPA also teamed up with LDWDC to deliver a job readiness training to LDWDC’s third batch of female trainees. The training truly empowered women with disabilities to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and gave them the confidence to find a job in the future. Looking towards the future of the rehabilitation and disability sector in Laos, participants of TEAM’s Seventh Coordination Meeting discussed the importance of policy makers in implementing sustainable development changes. Upon hearing a presentation from the Faculty of Medical Technology on short-term rehabilitation training for medical doctors for one month, Michael Schultze from the Association for Autism asked, “What are the means to solve the core of the problem [a lack of internationally qualified rehabilitation personnel in Laos]? This is a short-term training; none of these doctors will be able to diagnose autism [as that was not part of the rehabilitation training]. There should be a longer term vision to send people to study abroad. We are doing the best we can do to solve immediate needs, but what about long term ones?”
Bernard Franck stated that the World Education TEAM model was the solution – by working together with government, local organizations, and international organizations and donors, the rehabilitation sector can fully develop to meet the unmet needs of persons with disabilities. In February 2017 at the World Health Organization’s “Rehabilitation 2030: A Call for Action’” conference on the future of rehabilitation, attended by the Lao PDR Vice-Minister for Health and TEAM’s Technical Director, all countries committed to take ten actions to reach the total integration of rehabilitation into the health system by 2030.
TEAM demonstrates that, through cooperation and coordination, a country and the lives of its people can change for the better!
Nurse Vieng Xaiyasin from Mahosot Hospital had an opportunity to attend a one-month training about speech therapy supported by the World Education Laos, USAID-funded CMR-TEAM project. The training, held in Khon Khaen Univeristy (KKU), Thailand, has been invaluable to her skills development, and since her return she has been able to implement her new skills and knowledge in her work.
One of the main added values of World Education’s TEAM project is to increase synergies and co-ordination in the disability and rehabilitation sector in Laos. World Education aims to link and develop connections between TEAM sub-recipients’ work and projects for the mutual benefit of the partners and the sector as a whole. In Vieng’s case, she was able to advise Catholic Relief Services (CRS), also one of the TEAM project’s sub-recipients, after CRS supported eight people to undergo cleft palate surgeries in Mahosot Hospital. She used her knowledge and skills and some of the materials she had designed after the CMR-KKU speech therapy training to help the CRS cleft lip and palate suregery patients improve their speech.
Ms. Vieng pointed out that, “The children need to practice speaking more after the surgery. It is quite challenging, because most of the clients return to their home town in rural provinces after the surgery, so it is difficult for them to improve their speech. However, I encourage them to keep in touch with the nurses by phone, and if they have a chance to return to Vientiane, we can provide them with continued suggestions and monitoring. For now, we tried our best to give the clients useful information before and during the surgery.”
Since the training, Vieng has been actively working in the Mahosot Hospital to assist and advise patients, especially those with speech problems. She has received refresher training and follow up monitoring by the lecturers from Thailand, and continues to use them as sources of inspiration and knowledge when she has a difficult case or needs some advice and support.