UNICEF supporter Patricia Lanza sponsors new day-care centre for children with disabilities in Da Nang, Viet Nam
Hoa Nhon commune, Da Nang, Viet Nam, 2 April 2010 – Over 150 UNICEF partners, children with disabilities and their families gathered in Hoa Nhon commune to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new day-care centre for disabled children. The centre is expected to offer services for at least 200 children, including those affected by dioxin. 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.
© UNICEF/2010/Viet Nam/Bisin
"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,""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 Mme Nguyen Thi Hien, president of the Danang Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.
A dream come true
Philanthropist Patricia Lanza, a long-time supporter of the US Fund, contributed close to US$200,000 for the construction of the centre. In 2006 and 2007, two other centres were built which 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," said Jesper Morch, UNICEF Viet Nam Representative, 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."
Globally, children with disabilities are amongst the most marginalised and excluded. They are stigmatised in their family, community, at school and in the wider society. 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 their self-esteem and chances to participate and 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 percent of the total population, with 1.2 million children aged 0-16 reported to have disabilities.
Giving new hope to Da Nang’s vulnerable children
"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,"
"I am really glad to see that we are building one more centre. It means that I will have more friends," says 16-year-old Le Thi Ha with a beaming smile. She has been benefiting from services offered at the existing day-care centres for the past three years.
"Before joining the centres, I was enrolled in primary school, but sometimes I was not able to attend class. I suffer from weak bones, and I have broken my bones around ten times since I was born. In school, I was not so happy. Other children would tease me because I am so short. That made me sad. But at the centre, I have a lot of friends and nobody cares how I look," said Ha.
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 promoting awareness among key stakeholders of the rights and needs of children with disabilities, strengthening the capacity of national and local partners to address the specific needs of these children, developing policy, guidelines and manuals on alternative care models, and early identification of disabilities to facilitate implementation of policies, strategies and laws on children with disabilities.