From a reserved loner to an effective leader; Inpeng’s inspiring journey to woman leadership.
Miss Inpeng Vilayhong grew up a quiet and reserved young lady. She was insecure, and unconfident as a result of her visual impairments. Most of the time she preferred to be alone, her words are blunt and sometimes unkind. She is a visually impaired woman with many talents who is always eager to learn and grow. Miss Inpeng Vilayhong was a sophomore student at the Lao National University’s Faculty of Education at the time she received the Voice Empowerment grant. She also served as a deputy director at the Disability Service Centre (DSC), her main role was a trainer to people with disabilities. DSC is a social enterprise organization registered with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in May 2017 and is located in the heart of Vientiane, the capital city of Lao PDR.
The DSC is based on the idea that all people with disabilities should be able to live their lives without discrimination and with equal access. The DSC, a co-applicant to The Aid for Children with Disability Association (ACDA), is a service provider for people with disabilities and Laos’ first social enterprise for people with disabilities. Inpeng was regarded as Voice’s general manager, with the responsibility of overseeing general management in HR and finance.
“Because the DSC had never received a grant before, this grant was a great starting point that made a remarkable difference in my personal development, career development, and connection – I got a great chance to manage and work with people, learn how to make wise decisions, and meet new people” Ms Inpeng explained.
Inpeng further said that receiving a Voice grant as a university student enhanced her learning experience because she was able to apply what she learned in a real-world work context. It was extremely challenging and stressful at the same time because it was not a typical internship, but a truly massive role, and she took full advantage of her learning opportunities.
The Capacity Strengthening for the Blind project promotes inclusive education and full participation in higher education and society as a whole for people with visual impairments. The primary objective of receiving this grant was to convert physical paper documents to electronic documents, which would then be read by computer programs. This work process necessitates a significant amount of time and resources, both human and financial. Technical people work tirelessly to convert physical text to electronic format so that we can now access information sustainably. We are more empowered as leaders because we have access to current information and are better equipped to lead and contribute to societal and economic change.
Inpeng stated that
“Empowerment and leadership came not only from achieving the main project goal, but also from collaborating closely on project implementation and engagement with lead applicant staff. My respected director, Mr Aikeo Koomanivong, held my decision in high regard as always, and because he saw potential in me, I was always given the opportunity to go on a mission as a representative, a selection panelist, and a spokesperson for the event.”
All of those allowed her to improve her professional skills as well as her interpersonal relationships by meeting new people. Her negotiation skill is drastically improved as working with a large group of people requires a great deal of effort to understand and be compassionate, even when problems and conflict arise.
Again, without Voice grant, none of these learning experiences or changes would have occurred, and it played a critical role in shaping her into the person she is today.