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A memoir of 25 years' association with Bright Future and Hanoi association of people with disabilities (Dp Hanoi)


10TH ANNIVERSARY, 2006-2016


I have a very happy memory of Hanoi, and my over 25 years' of association with my Hanoi friends with disabilities. My first visit to Hanoi was in 1991 when I was invited by Professor Ryo Matsui, who was then the Specialist of the International Labour Organization for the Region, to take part in the first ILO Seminar. Since then I have been visiting Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam, either on a disability related mission or for pleasure.

One of my major purposes in visiting Hanoi during the first Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1992-2003, was connected with disability concerned projects funded by the Asia Trust, in partnership with a disabled persons' organization in Hanoi, the Bright Future, and The Society of Support for Hanoi Handicapped and Orphans for People with Disabilities. Both projects have been successfully concluded with significant and positive impacts. We have been particularly impressed with the progresses made by the Bright Future, its contributions to Regional action agenda, and its impact on national disability development work. Bright Future became a founder member of DP Hanoi, and have since been very active in supporting DP Hanoi.

I still remember vividly the time when I first met Mr. Nghiem Xuan Tue some time in late 1990s during the visit of Regional NGO Network (RNN) for the Promotion of the A/P Decade to Hanoi to prepare for the RNN Campaign 2001. We were so surprised to find that Mr. Tue was exceptionally professional, efficient and effective, and above all very hospitable. APDF was not yet formed so as NCCD. However same groups of people have already become good friends and close comrades in supporting disability causes in the Region.

Bright Future Group for PWDs and Dr. Joseph Kwok
(the second person stand behind from left)

It is also the year when I started project collaboration with Bright Future, and one of its key, dynamic and effective leaders was Ms. Duong Thi Van. We had a number of projects since the 1990s; and these projects were also supported by our close regional disability movement comrades, led by our most beloved, the late Mr. Ichiro Maruyama, Founding Secretary General of RNN, and his terms ended when RNN became APDF in 2002. These collaborative were funded jointly by Asia Trust and grants from Japan mobilized by Mr. Maruyama. These projects all recorded outstanding achievements, and one project on computer skills were broadcasted by Hanoi TV on the occasion of the National Teachers' Day.

One most memorable regional event with great impact was the The RNN Campagin 2001 was sponsored by the Regional NGO Network for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Perosns, 1993-2002, hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, and held in Hanoi. The Campaign 2001 opening was graced by very top government officials of Vietnam, as well as senior leaders from the Region. I wish to acknowledge again such successes were largely due to the relentless efforts of Mr. Tue and his Committee. The event was exceptionally successful in many dimensions, including the large number of participants from all over of Vietnam and the Region, the large number of professionals from different sectors and disciplines, and the representation from mainstream sectors. The Campaign's positive and dynamic impact on Vietnam was beyond any expectation. Since then Vietnam has been moving forward in a speed rarely seen in other countries in the Region in complying and proactively applying regional and international standards and guidelines concerning disability, including the A/P Decade targets, and the BMF targets. Mr. Tue, Mr. Maruyama and Ms. Van were key and most effective leaders that had transformed our common dreams into reality.

I wish to share two particularly important initiatives of the hosting organizations. One initiative was to promote Accessible Tourism, which included a special speech by the expert of the mainstream tourism sector of ESCAP, as well as the first accessible tour to the very famous world heritage, Halong Bay. This initiative has contributed to APDF's Regional Accessible Tourism Conference hosted by Eden Social Welfare Foundation in 2005 in Taipei, in connection with reconstruction and rehabilitation of natural disaster affected areas and victims, including those affected by the major earthquake in Taiwan in 2001, and Tsunami in December 2004. Our colleagues from Thailand are now actively considered a second regional conference on Accessible Tourism some time in the near future in a city fully recovered from Tsunami. The second initiative was providing a platform for both governmental and non-governmental organizations to arrive at a consensus that the A/P Decade should be extended for another 10 years. The second initiative facilitated the ESCAP High Level Inter-governmental Meeting held in Otsu, Japan in 2003, which approved the extension of the Decade with the important BMF statement.

The President Society of Support for Hanoi Handicapped and Orphans, Bright Future Group and Dr. Joseph Kwok in signing of cooperation and implementation the project with witness of the Director of Hanoi DOLISA

A decade later after the Campaign 2001, The Ministerial Declaration proclaimed in 2012 for the Asia and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2013 to 2022, adopted the Incheon Strategy to Make the Rights Real. Two years into the Third A/P Decade, APDF, in cooperation with international organizations and other member organizations, organized a regional conference to review recent developments and deliberating on new strategies. The conference was hosted by The Vietnam Federation on Disability (VFD), supported by the Vietnamese Government. The Conference was a great success with key and inspiring speeches and workshop deliberations, and with participants from major INGO, UN experts, local leaders and disability advocates from all over Vietnam. Two major impacts were immediately witnessed. First, Vietnam government passed a resolution to become a signatory country of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Second, a mass parade was held with great and exciting participation of all conference participants and local organizations of and for people with disabilities around the Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of Hanoi, with many media coverages. The success of the 2014 APDF conference was the outstanding work of Ms. Dang Huynh Mai, Chairwoman, APDF 2014 Conference Organizing Committee, and Vietnam Federation on Disability (VFD); and Mr. Kyung Seok Park, Chairman of APDF. Members of Hanoi Association of People with Disabilities and their staff members had been actively involved and supporting the conference organizing, and their contribution was essential in contributing to the outstanding success of the Conference.

With the help of Professor Ryo Matsui, the Rehabilitation International 16th World Congress Fund and the Asia Trust jointly jointly supported a collaboration project with DP Hanoi, shortly after its founding. The project was "Web based knowledge management and project development in support of BMF+5 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" for a duration of three year from 2009-2012. I conducted three consecutive field monitoring studies and met with leaders and active partners of DP Hanoi. I was deeply impressed by the sound governing structure of DP Hanoi, and the dedication and professional performance of all the members and staff. The Web Project received excellent goodwill network support from the School of Technology, University of Hanoi, and such network relationship contributed greatly the high level performance of the Project, with updated information communication technological input, as well sustainability. The launching of the Web Project was supported by key leaders of government and the disability sector, as well as a good coverage of the media. DP Hanoi, although a newly established organization of persons with disabilities in Hanoi, received significant support from Hanoi Government in terms of policy as well as funding for service delivery. The Web Project achieved excellent output and project impacts as demonstrated by well documented evidences.

Looking ahead, the Region will benefit from active participation from Hanoi Association of People with Disabilities in promoting the CRPD.

I wish to congratulate Hanoi People with Disabilities for their 25 years of dedicated and committed services and outstanding achievements, and my best wishes for many more successful years.

Joseph Kwok, 25 January 2016
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The Sponsors: RI A/P, APDF and JSPD; The funding partners: RI and Asia Trust
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