Lao PDR celebrates International Children’s Day on the 1st of June each year by recognizing the need to protect children’s rights in order to ensure they grow into happy, healthy adults. But, did you know, around the world there are approximately 93 million children with disabilities and are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups. In their daily life many barriers exist including experiencing negative attitudes and discrimination, being less likely to attend school, access general healthcare, rehabilitation and assistive products, or have their voices heard in society.
In Lao PDR, the USAID Okard project has a vision to build communities where children with disabilities can grow up healthy, access rehabilitation and assistive products to optimize function, go to school to learn, play and socialize with other children, and reach their full potential. The Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Demonstration Model implements activities that remove barriers in society and supports children with disabilities and their families to increase their participation in their communities.
To commemorate this significant day, read some of the children’s stories that we share throughout the week to learn about their experiences and the work USAID Okard does.
#World Children’s day
10 year old Khamkeo is a ray of sunshine for her family. She has a great sense of humour and she loves to sing and dance to upbeat songs. Khamkeo was born with a health condition called Down’s syndrome that causes her to have some difficulties in learning new tasks, remembering things. Khamkeo has difficulty taking care of herself, with sanitation and hygiene being particularly challenging and requiring support from her parents. Her parents help her a lot but some challenges exist. The USAID Okard CBID team worked together with local authorities from District Labour and Social Welfare and Health offices to support Khamkeo’s needs related to learning, providing her with toys, puzzles, and flashcards. Her parents have been taught how to regularly use them to stimulate her learning and development. By doing this, Khamkeo will be able to learn new tasks and start to look after herself so she can be more independent in the future.
#World Children’s day
12 years old May is a cheerful girl who loves to read and practice her Lao alphabet writing skill.
May has grown up having difficulty moving her body as she was born with a health condition called Cerebral Palsy. The USAID Okard CBID team has supported May to access the Provincial Rehabilitation Center (PRC) where a physiotherapist assessed her difficulties in moving and devised a rehabilitation plan to improve function. May was provided a wheelchair to help her move around and provided a home based exercise program to help her walk better. The community facilitator worked with May’s family to identify physical barriers within the home environment and solutions to increase her independence. Two parallel handrails have been fitted to help her walk and access the bathroom so she can use the latrine and shower. Over several months, May has shown significant improvement and is now able to walk for longer distances with support. With her improved mobility and wheelchair, she can spend more time outside playing and having fun with her friends.
USAID Okard, funded by USAID and implemented by World Education, Inc., improves access to quality healthcare and economic opportunities for persons with disabilities, while also engaging them in policy design and implementation.