The status of persons with disabilities has been improved in comparison to a decade ago due to various reasons, including efforts of people with disabilities. But individual efforts may not be as effective as combined efforts. It is impotant to note that people with disabilities have come together in self-help groups and DPOs to promote the development of the movement. And the leaders' role in the movement is of great importance for a successful group. We talked to Mr. Vu Manh Hung, President of DP Hanoi about this issue.
* In 1998, the first self-help group of people with disabilities in Hanoi was formed and you are one of the founders. Could you introduce this group?
| DP Hanoi President speaking at an exchange program |
for people with disability
... Naturally, each person has his own needs to share, to support each others in their daily lives and in their longings for better lives. So we came together 20 years ago and established the group "Bright Future Group". The first members of the group are Duong Thi Van, Phan Bich Diep, Nguyen Thi Thi, Nguyen Trung Thuan, Nguyen Hong Ha, Nguyen Hong Oanh, Nguyen Bich Hang, Luu Dinh Tu, Nguyen Trung, Nguyen Hoang Duong, Nguyen Minh...
It was very hard for us in the beginning as office, funding and facilities were not available. But during the international integration of our country, we gained advantages such as opportunities to network with international organizations. Being dynamic and supported by DOLISA, Hanoi Association for Support of the Handicapped and Orphans, the group developed projects and successfully implemented activities: computer and language training, wheelchair receiving donated by a Japanese organization for people with disabilities in Hanoi and Hai Phong, international exchange program in Hanoi, documents translation, organizational development....In 2009, the group started to carry out the project "Independent Living Center" for people with disabilities in Hanoi, funded by Nippon (Japan) through DPI Asia - Pacific.
* I know that your group also helps establish other groups, DPOs in local areas?
Our group has gradually become known. People with disabilities in provinces are interested in learning our model so we share experiences, encourage and support establishing self-help organizations in exchange programs and carry out the projects on development of self-help organizations. When people with disabilities recognize their benefits in joining activities in the organization such as exchange, sharing of information, vocational training, employment, studying...the disability movement spread widely.
* Is the Bright Future Group also a key to promote the establishment and development of DP Hanoi where you are president now?
After working for a long time, our group realized that people with disabilities should have one registered organization, which is representing all disabled people...Hence, we developed a project on Establishment of DP Hanoi, funded by PTU. Hanoi Association of Support for the Handicapped and Orphans supported "Bright Future Group" in receiving the project funding and collaborate with self-help organizations of people with disabilities to establish DP Hanoi in April 2006. Some members and I have been the core people to continue our development and implementation of PTU funded projects since then.
* You were trusted to be re-elected as president of DP Hanoi in the 2nd term 2009 - 2011. Having full of responsibilities, have you ever felt discouraged with the increasing demand for effective renovation, meeting donor requirements and satisfying your members?
Honestly, I also feel overloaded with responsibilities but looking at the achievement DP Hanoi has made, and joining with my fellow disabled persons in community activities, I would not allow myself to feel discouraged. Since first established with 19 member organizations with 750 individual members, DP Hanoi has increased to 34 member organizations with over 2000 members. Advocacy activities to disseminate legislation, vocational training, conferences, exchange programs...have resulted in an increased awareness among members, people with disabilities and in our society.
But our biggest difficulty is the lack of funding. To tackle it, DP Hanoi must develop proposals and suitable working plans which correlate with the mission on disability of the city and request support from the People's Committees at all levels.
* So far, DP Hanoi has continuously established many district associations. Why do you have this result? Do you just run after quantity and ignore quality?
Please be reminded that DP Hanoi is not running after quantity because our first and the most important principle is that everyone should be voluntary. In two years, DP Hanoi has supported the establishment of 11 district associations of former Ha Tay (except for Tay Ho, Tu Liem, Long Bien). The results are attributed to the fact that DP Hanoi has actively developed plans, especially received strong support from People's Committee at all levels, DOLISA, DoHA, DoF...for DPO to develop their organizations...
* Newly expanded Hanoi has a huge number of PDs in former Ha Tay, and the disability movement is still weak. What have been done so far to develop the disability movement in far-away areas?
DP Hanoi is fully aware of our responsibilities for disabled community in former Ha Tay province, in that we developed phase III of PTU project (2009 - 2011), work plan 2009 and orientation activities, DP Hanoi paid special attention to establish DPO in this area. Last June, DP Hanoi collaborated with local departments, agencies to organize 2 training courses on establishment and management of the Association for 13 districts and the Son Tay town. DP Hanoi will continue to organize training courses and support the establishment of district branches.
* Are you satisfied with results DP Hanoi has had since it was established?
A social organization working under voluntary and self-funding principles can not ask for more.
* The human factor is a key. Will the younger generation have what it takes to futher develop what their predecessors have built?
The contribution from the younger generation is always present in all periods, some even are better than the senior members. I believe that it is time for the younger generation to grow up and replace their predecessors.
* It is said that people with disabilities need more intensive training on leadership skill and management in oder to take the lead to promote the disability movement and protection of their rights and legal interests. What do you think?
I definitely agree that personnel training is required by any organization for their existence and development. Despite having difficulties, DP Hanoi is trying to do this.
* DP Hanoi just organized a workshop on the draft disability law. What issues of the law are of great concern to the members?
Members had having very exciting discussions, and DP Hanoi collected their comments, revisions and additions in writing and sent them to the Drafting Committee. Many of the issues commented on are: policies for children of people with disabilities, blueprint of housing and public construction requirements for approval in meeting the needs of people with disabilities, personal transportation of people with disabilities, provision of driving licenses, support of production of transportation vehicles, accessible transport for people with disabilities...
* You are now working for a government agency. How do you plan your time in working for the association and the government?
I am now working at the payment center of the Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development of Vietnam. Our work is to implement and examine payment orders among client departments of the bank. I work as normal people, but always receive support from our office and colleagues.
I come to the association after work so I often work very late, even on weekends. I understand that participating in social activities lessens my time for family but my wife gives me strong support and my son is mature now. Family support is a big driving force my efforts.
* Having these results today, have you made a lot of efforts?
I was struck by polio fever at 1 year old and did not walk until I was 5. My student life was during the war time in our country. I graduated from Physics Department, Hanoi General University in 1974. I went to work after graduation, encountered hardship in life but I always told myself that many have greaterdifficulties than me.
* You were a member in the Executive Committee of the Association for Support of Vietnamese Handicapped and Orphans, in 2nd term (2002 - 2007). What should ASVHO do to meet the increasing demand for social protection work?
Since the 2nd term, Central ASVHO and their local associations have mobilized various sources to organize programs in support of people with disabilities and orphans. I realize a lot of changes in their activities such as more focus given to their comments and to the development of policies to protect rights of people with disabilities. However, ASVHO should make a shift from supporting individual to organizations of people with disabilities, since strengthened DPOs will have more a persuasive voice and with better collect needs and expectations from people with disabilities, this helps supporting activities to be closer and more practical to PWDs.
* Thanks you!