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I can lead! 


My journey shows – believing in yourself and seizing opportunities can lead to great things.


I come from a small rural area in Vietnam where life has been tough for me, and others like me who are deaf. I did not have many chances after I finished primary school. But then something changed everything for me. It was a project called DeafLoud by PARD in Vietnam. 


The training venue was far away, but I made the 8-hour journey every time because I didn’t want to miss out. During the Deaf Identity training, Ms. Tien – the trainer – signed something that really surprised me. She signed, “Deaf people can do anything.


Until then, I thought deaf people could only work on farms or help their families. Tien’s words made me think differently about what I could achieve! In the training, we talked a lot about being deaf and what it meant for us. Learning other stories of deaf people overcoming challenges made me start to believe in myself more. With my newfound confidence, I decided to start a Deaf Club in my province. 


Deaf Club. It was a place where deaf people could come together, share experiences and support each other. This was just the beginning of my journey into leadership. In 2022, with the support of PARD, I and some other deaf friends started the Mekong Deaf Network. We even got a grant from an NGO in Norway to implement a project for five years. It was the first time we became decision-makers and project managers, making contributions to our deaf community. 


Dat presenting at a regional workshop
Dat presenting at a regional workshop


My Big Moment. PARD selected me to represent our community at a meeting with other ASEAN Deaf Associations and the World Federation of the Deaf in February 2024 in Thailand. This was my first time traveling outside of Vietnam. I was nervous, but proud to present about our community using International Sign in front of other leaders. Looking back at where I started, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. I can achieve this thanks to the knowledge and skills that I gained from DeafLoud, and the opportunities and trust provided by PARD, my deaf peers, and my family. 

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