– by Hong Cuong
Cuong joined our volunteers in April/2015 and lives in Hue, Vietnam. He was asked several questions by our Australian doctors. His answers follow;
1) How are people with CP viewed/understood in your culture?
In my country, disabled people are often looked down by people. I can say there is a big discrimination against the disabled. And I think it’s because the idea of people about the disabled is not enough.
When I was a kid, I had been teased by the other kids living around my house. They laughed at me and said “look at that boy!!! He must be crazy”.
That really made me upset, sometimes angry, but when I tried to get closer to them, everything changed. Everyday these kids came to my house and we played with each other. They didn’t say I’m crazy anymore and I had a wonderful childhood with the kids around my house. Even now, when I’m a teacher, people look at me and say “how can he teach to students while he can’t even walk?” they have no idea that for teaching we use our head and our knowledge, but for walking we just use our feet. But when my students look at me, they say that they’re happy to have me no matter if I can walk or not.
The point I want to tell you here is how people understand the disabled. In my country, most of the people don’t really understand the disabled. Because they have no idea what we are. And they think that we can not do anything, they stay away from us, just like in X-MEN movies, if you have watched them. Everything we need is time to show people what we can do and how hard we are working. It’s my answer for this question.
2) How well is CP understood by officials and lawmakers, and what laws/rules exist to help people with CP?
As I said in the answer for question number one above; People in my country don’t really understand the disabled. That’s why the disabled are not a good subject for the officials to work on, at least in my city. There are very few companies or factories allowing the disabled to work in them. Even if we have a job, the salary that we are paid is very very low. I know some people who have income only about 500vnd a month (about 25 dollars).
I don’t think it’s enough for living here. Moreover there is no school for the disabled in my city. So some people don’t even know how to read and write. I’m helping two boys in this situation. They’re 21 but they have no idea even about basic spelling. I know some schools and centers that help disabled people in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), but in Hue, there is no school that accepts disabled students. I am not saying that the officials don’t help, but that’s just not enough.
3) What opportunities and support are there for children with CP?
Lately the officials and some non-governmental organizations have many projects to help the disabled get a better life here in Vietnam, such as giving free wheelchairs, health care for the disabled. This helps make the disabled’s life much better. But no one ever thinks about a place for disabled children to study. In answer for question number two above, I was talking that the officials need to take more care of the disabled education. Because of not enough caring, the opportunities for disabled people in Hue city are very sparse. If not to say there’s no opportunity for the disabled to be educated there.
As you already know, there is no where for disabled children to get education in Hue. So the number of children growing up with no education is very high. Some children may know how to read, but they’re only taught by their parents at home. Everything we need is just a chance to go to school and study like everyone does, but we don’t. Because of this reason, the opportunities for the disabled children developing their life is very small. I think the reason is because some disabled people cannot write with their own hands. I know some people can write and some of them are in university now.
In my opinion, the more we care for education, the more opportunities will be created for disabled children.
4) What opportunities and support are there for adults with CP?
As I showed in my answers, most children with disabilities are growing up with no education. So there’s no chance for them to get a good job, when they’re adults. Everything they can do is just some manual work at some small factories with a very low salary. Some people don’t even have a job. I know many situations where they just stay at home and live on the family’s help. I think the officials should help them work; even to get more education. I have been thinking of this idea for a long time. I think the key here is a class room with computers inside, for the education, and a special tax for the companies which employ disabled workers. As you know, the main reason that disabled people cannot go to school here is they cannot use the pen very well. And a computer, even a tablet can solve this problem.
I cannot use a pen either. I was lucky because my dad is a computing teacher. I had my first computer when I was 8 (in 1998). It helped me alot in my study and discovering the world.
If we have a computer class room, we can teach every person who has a disability. And we can also create the opportunities for them to get a job (they can learn and teach back to the others).
The second part I would like to say in this answer is a special tax the government should give to the companies and factories having disabled workers. I think it’s a great idea to create many job opportunities for the disabled. As you know, there are not many companies and factories allowing the disabled to work. But with that tax, I think everything will become easier. This tax would be a motivator for the companies and factories to help the disabled to get a better job and improve their life.