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Stories: Children, Community, Future

Meet Ngoc, a young woman with disability weaving her own dreams in Cao Bang province

When Ngoc was two years old, she got sick with a high fever that led to full-body seizures. Life changed in an instant; she was diagnosed with severe mental and neurological disability. Suddenly, daily tasks, like putting on shoes and brushing teeth, required huge amounts of effort. Ngoc spoke hesitantly and unclearly, often needing to repeat words to make herself understood. She could not hold things firmly as her hands trembled frequently.

When Ngoc was only six years old, her father passed away, leaving her mother and older brother, Vuong, to support the family. Growing up, Ngoc spent most of her time at home in Cao Bang province and required her mother’s aid to carry out daily tasks. She remembers feeling lonely as she didn’t have many friends and rarely went outside. She also understood how hard it was for her mother to raise two children, as she watched her work in the fields, selling vegetables to make ends meet.

But all of that changed five years ago, when Ngoc, then 22, attended a monthly meeting of the Self-Help Group of People with Disability in Quang Hoa district, accompanied by her mother. The meeting, supported by ChildFund, helps to equip people with disability and their carers the necessary skills and resources to become active members of the community. Through this meeting, Ngoc also found a good support network of people with similar circumstances. Meanwhile, Ri – Ngoc’s mother attended training sessions focused on disability rights, which helped her to better understand her daughter’s needs and improve her caregiving skills.

Ngoc in one of the monthly meetings with the Self-Help Group of People with Disability

Ri soon noticed a positive change in her once-shy daughter. She observed that the more Ngoc engaged in activities and interacted with others, the more confident and bolder she became in expressing her opinions and tackling various tasks. With her newfound confidence, Ngoc took a more proactive approach to her life, determined not to be defined by her disabilities or circumstances. This included taking greater control of her financial wellbeing.

Thanks to ChildFund’s income-generating activities for people with disability in her community through the project “My right to education”, Ngoc was taught how to raise and sell chickens. Among the 50 chickens Ngoc bought to start with, only half of them were sold and consumed, but Ngoc says she valued the opportunity to learn and share with others like her and was inspired to start her own entrepreneurial journey. She convinced her mother to let her look after one of the family’s buffalos and quickly turned a profit. But her ambitions didn’t stop there.

Ngoc had always dreamt of owning a three-wheeled electric scooter which can give her the freedom to travel independently. Ngoc’s family was worried about her safety and didn’t want her to go outside alone. Despite this, she used the money she had saved to buy a scooter. She was determined to succeed and told her mother: “I have to try harder. If I fail, I need to try again”. Ngoc practiced riding the scooter on her own and after a few days, she surprised her family and neighbours by successfully controlling the vehicle.

Ngoc and her new three-wheeled electric scooter

Last year, Ngoc bought 100 chickens and 20 ducks to raise and sell before Tet (Lunar New Year). Today, she has successfully sold almost all her chickens and already has new business ventures lined up. Ngoc says her life has improved significantly over the years: “I have raised 9-10 more pigs, chickens, and ducks with my mother. Recently, we also began to grow sugarcane to sell to Phuc Hoa sugar factory. Our living conditions have much improved”.

“Ngoc is now eager to do many things, such as raising rabbits, growing plants, and selling teddy bears and coffee”, Ri said. “I hope other people with disability like Ngoc can also have jobs to support themselves.”

Ngoc also hopes to help other people with disability in her community. She is now one of four focal points of people with disabillity in Tu Do commune. Her duties include informing households of people with disability about related policies, laws, and rights, as well as collecting their opinions and needs to help improve project activities that they participate in.

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