2 December, 2014 - Steph Gaut
To celebrate International Day of People With Disability (IDPWD), we are thrilled to hear from An Nguyen. An came from Vietnam to study a Masters (Research) of Health Sciences in Australia, and is currently a Research volunteer at CBM. Here is her personal account of what life was like growing up as a girl living with disability in a developing country, and how she’s working together with CBM to change negative attitudes, discrimination and stigma towards people with disabilities.
“I suffered from polio when I was four years old. In my hometown, a small village in the middle of Vietnam, it was not easy for me to integrate into the community at that time. It seems that I was isolated during my childhood, I was even hit by my friends at schools. I found it very difficult to go to school and have a good friend, just because I am a girl with physical disability.
I used to think: “I want to give up my dream, or even consider being suicidal”. However, the love of my parents helped me out of negative thinking and I could continue going to school. I ignored the mockery and stood all the bad things from my friends. I stated that I had to go to school, because my good marks made my parents happy.
The stigmatised discourse towards people with disabilities can give them an inferiority complex, which results in losing opportunities to change their lives. Being a person with disability, I acknowledge these barriers impacedt my life as well as people with disabilities in Vietnam. So I wanted to change my life, I wanted to break the “invisible rules” and also improve the awareness of people in the communities. Thus, I dreamed to study oversea and made a plan for that when I was an undergraduate student. Luckily, I got a full scholarship from Australian Government. I currently study at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Certainly, I have learnt a lot of things from the university, Australian friends, and CBM as well.
When I began living in Australia for my study, I wanted to contact any organization related to people with disabilities. I never stopped finding the information about this. One day, my friend told me about CBM Australia and I really felt fantastic. The first day I came to CBM for a workshop, I said “I want to be a volunteer here”. And now I am a research volunteer at CBM. I am happy with my work here. I am updating DID Stats and Facts. I believe that it will be very useful for CBM and other readers. I also really enjoy CBM’s environment. The staff are very nice and skillful. So I can improve my English skill, know more about Australian culture, and build a big network.
I am really passionate about researching people with disabilities because, based on my findings, I can give persuasive evidences that people with disabilities are human beings. They have a right to do anything they want. In the future, I would like to enhance the quality of life of Vietnamese people with disabilities. Particularly, I want to provide the basic information related to sexual and reproductive health issues, as well as improve the awareness of other people about disabilities.”