Hao, 8 years old, is the eldest child in the family, currently living in Quang Hoa district, Cao Bang province. Hao was diagnosed with Down syndrome at the age of 1. Her family is a near-poor household, with only a few fields to cultivate, and there are days when the family does not have enough to eat. Hao’s father – Hung faced many challenges in raising Hao. He shared: “I didn’t know what to do, everything must follow Hao’s wishes. She doesn’t know how to speak, and when she speaks it’s not clear, sometimes only a few words”.
When participating in the project ‘My Right to Education’, Hung learned about the livelihood model that supports parents to raise chickens and pigs to improve their children’s nutrition. He registered to raise chickens to improve the quality of meals and improve his family’s finances. He said: “Because Hao likes to eat chicken, I registered to raise 100 chickens. I plan to raise them for food and I can also sell them to buy school supplies for my children”. The project financially supported participating families with a part of the cost (80%) for the starting chickens and provided them with chicken feed for the first 20 days.
This year, Hung continued to participate in this model and was given guidance to raise chickens better. “I installed heat lamps for the chickens and gave them medicine to prevent diseases. I also boiled guava leaf water to give the chickens to drink. The chickens are growing well, fast, and healthily. Hao also occasionally feeds the chickens and plays with them. She hopes the chickens grow up fast!” he happily shared.
Participating in the project, Hung and his wife also have more opportunities to share with families of people with disability about the benefits and supports for people with disability. Hao’s family learned how to guide their children to keep personal hygiene and carry out daily activities such as brushing teeth, combing hair, and getting dressed. “Hao now listens to her parents. She knows how to brush teeth, get dressed, and comb hair all by herself.”
Hung also found himself becoming more patient with his children, spending more time to take them outside to play. He and other parents of children with disability can now openly discuss with commune officials or teachers so that their children can enjoy benefits and learn better at school. He said: “Previously, Hao can only call the name of one friend from the same commune, but now she can talk to her teacher and friends. When participating in the project, my child received a lot of help and guidance from teachers as well as members of the project team.”
Hao’s father’s dream is simple. He confided: “My child was born at a disadvantage compared to her peers, so our family only hope that she will be healthy and won’t be criticised or shunned by others.”