|© UNICEF/Viet Nam/2010/Bisin|
|UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Jesper Morch with some of the 200 children with disabilities who will benefit from services offered by the new day-care centre in Da Nang.|
By Sandra Bisin
DA NANG, Viet Nam, 9 April 2010 – Over 150 UNICEF partners, children with disabilities and their families gathered in Hoa Nhon commune, central Viet Nam, to celebrate the opening of a new day-care centre for disabled children.
The centre is expected to offer services for at least 200 children, including those who have been victims of dioxin (or ‘Agent Orange’) exposure. Educators at the school will provide the children with rehabilitation support, non-formal education, recreational activities and new skills in areas such as tailoring, embroidery, auto-mechanics and jewellery making.
“We are grateful to UNICEF Viet Nam, the US Fund for UNICEF and to Patricia Lanza’s foundation for their generous contributions that will allow the construction of a third day-care centre in the province,” said Nguyen Thi Hien, President of the Danang Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.
Bringing children out of the margins
Philanthropist Patricia Lanza, a long-time supporter of the US Fund for UNICEF, contributed close to $200,000 for the construction of the centre. Two other centres, built in 2006 and 2007, currently provide 100 disabled children with care, physical and intellectual rehabilitation, and vocational training.
“Today is a unique opportunity to remind everyone that this groundbreaking ceremony is a dream come true for two women who have combined their efforts to ensure that the dignity of these children is respected, helping them become self-reliant and active participants in society,” UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Jesper Morch said during the ceremony.
“Mme Hien had the vision of taking essential services to vulnerable children living in rural areas. And Ms. Patricia Lanza – who during a visit to Viet Nam had the chance to interact with these children and their families and understand the challenges they faced – was deeply moved and decided to support this project,” he added.
|© UNICEF/Viet Nam/2010/Bisin|
|UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Jesper Morch helps lay the foundation stone for a day-care centre for children with disabilities in Da Nang. The centre is supported by UNICEF donor Patricia Lanza.|
Globally, children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded. Quite often, they have much more limited access to basic health care, education and other opportunities than their peers without disabilities. This discrimination not only leads to poor health and education outcomes but also affects children's self-esteem and chances to interact with others – and puts them at a higher risk of being subjected to violence, abuse and exploitation.
According to a 2007 report by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the disability prevalence rate was 6.3 per cent of the total population, with 1.2 million children up to the age of 16 reported to have disabilities.
Hope for vulnerable children
“I am really glad to see that we are building one more centre. It means that I will have more friends,” said a smiling Le Thi Ha, 16. She has been benefiting from services offered at the existing day-care centres in Da Nang for the past three years.
The construction of the new centre is part of a comprehensive package of activities in Viet Nam that UNICEF is supporting to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Other activities include:
“We wish to build on the current success story and continue working with provincial and national authorities, using UNICEF’s convening power and ability, to establish linkages between partners to bring essential services to disabled children nationwide,” said Mr. Morch.