Stories from a Youth Volunteer at the Disability Services Center in Lao PDR
By Linking Learning facilitator Laos
The Disability Service Center in Lao PDR (DSC) aspires to help people with disabilities find long-term employment and contribute to a more inclusive society. They also believe that everyone with a disability has the same rights and opportunities to participate in society’s development. DSC is a Laos-based organization that provides capacity-building services, equipment support, and counseling to people with disabilities and their parents.
The Disability Service Center in Lao PDR has partnered with a number of organizations to help people with disabilities. Collaborate with the Association for the Development and Professional Promotion of the Visually Impaired (OPH) to create a handbook on traditional massage and crutches for the visually impaired, for example. Collaboration with the National University of Laos on technology consulting, such as creating open-access books, co-sponsoring volunteers, and other activities. In collaboration with the Lao-Australian Institute, equipment for visually impaired university students, IT computer training, co-disability inclusive development DID training for people with disabilities, and more are being provided.
Get to know Nisa
Nisa Kotyotha is a young blind person who enjoys learning and is passionate about assisting people with disabilities in finding work and supporting themselves and their families. She is a DSC volunteer who wants to see people with disabilities gain equal employment opportunities in all sectors, including business and government.
“No one wants to be physically disabled, but accepting the truth and exploring our capabilities in this graceful body will bring us peace and happiness.”
Entering DSC is like giving a disabled society a chance. Nisa stated that because she still has a lot to learn, having access to training allows her to set a life goal for herself, which is to finish school, get a job, and be able to care for her family, just as other girls wish to do good deeds, and she is no exception in this case, regardless of physical abilities. Her visual impairment will not hinder her from accomplishing her objectives. “When it happens, we have to keep fighting,” Nisa says, relieved that the truth has been accepted and she no longer has to wonder why she couldn’t see and why she is in this unfortunate situation.
- How did Nisa discover about DSC, and how did she become involved?
Nisa studied at the Faculty of Letters, Department of Chinese Language at the National University of Laos as a student with a disability and was one of the target groups of the Peer-to-Peer Program at NUOL in collaboration with the Disability Services and later as a volunteer of the Center. She was responsible for outreach and development work to help people with disabilities and did an internship at Lao Telecom in the General Customer Service Unit. This internship is one of the projects of the Center that encourage people with disabilities to participate in society in all areas of work, including economic, cultural and social affairs.
- Her impressions of DSC
The excitement, anxiety, and fear of not being able to get along with other people were her initial reactions to participating in DSC. But as she gets to know them, she learns that they are all friendly, kind, and caring people who help one another and with whom she can talk and discuss any issues. Recognize that when someone has a problem, others will extend their hands for help, provide counseling, and create a warm environment as a family to make her feel better.
“Although this volunteer program is only temporary, it has changed my mindset and deviated my life goals in a more positive and long-term way; my responses to life challenges have become clearer.”
Nisa continued, “Before I found out about the Disability Service Center, I had no hope and a lot of questions about what had happened, indeed I had lost my life purpose for a while”. The respected PWD brothers and sisters in the DSC, particularly Ai Airkeo and Sis Inpeng, influenced one of the self-development. They are both successful people with disabilities in their careers, personal development, and as social workers. She aspires to be like them and looks to them for direction. They can be organizational leaders and work to enable people with disabilities to participate in a variety of activities despite their disability.
The director of the center once said,
“We must first hire people with disabilities within our organization before asking society to accept more people with disabilities into jobs. We begin by setting an example and providing a space for them to demonstrate their worth, grow, and integrate into society.”