The subject attracted the interest of 15 persons with disabilities who participated in the Support Group of Peer Counseling which was held on October 28-30, 2011. The activity was part of the Independent Living project, funded by the Nippon Foundation and Human Care Association.

In the first part, members  of the Independent Living Project reminded the participants of the common objectives and principles of  peer counseling  and of the rules to be followed during such a session. In addition, it was reminded that a “support group” is a place for people to discuss common issues, and for each person to find solutions and solve their own problems by themselves.

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Besides providing training courses on independent living skills and peer counseling to the PWD using independent living services (Users), Disability Research and Capacity Development Center (DRD) believes that it is also important to train Personal Assistants (PA) on necessary skills  to work with PWDs. On October 16, 2011, Independent Living project held a meeting aimed at improving skills to assist PWD.  Eleven PAs, Users and collaborators participated in the meeting. The project is funded by the Nippon Foundation and the Human Care Association.

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Peer – Counseling is a necessary activity for people with disabilities (PWDs) when they live independently at home and community. Its profound meaning is PWDs have the right of freedom to choose what they want; freedom to make decisions and freedom to have responsibility for their own lives whatever personal care or joining in community through sharing experiences with their peers. The fourth training on “Peer – Counseling Skill” was held on September 24-25, 2011 within the framework of the IL project activities of the Disability Research and Capacity Development Center- DRD, under the sponsorship of the Nippon Foundation and the Human Care Association.



After the recent training course, I learned many helpful and significant lessons in life. I know what independent living is, what peer-counseling is, how to live more independently, etc.

Up to now, I just hung around the house, rarely going out. Therefore, I held a sense of inferiority to the society and surroundings. I had no confidence in myself, or self-assurance to show thoughts and decisions. For now, after this training I learned many useful things for myself and see my disability in different light. I no longer feel pity for myself nor back off from the difficulties I encounter. Independent living philosophy and methods of peer-counseling are of a wonder. Thereby, I can share the secrets that at times I did not dare tell anyone. Speaking out, I feel comfortable and relieved. Unexpectedly, I gain back my self-confidence which was lost so long ago. I can feel things are changing in me….

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I was so pleased to have the honor of attending the last Peer-counseling session. That time was wonderful, the most beautiful and memorable experience in my life. I had never opened my heart and lived true to my own feelings before that day. Many new understandings not only came to me but also changed my view of life and the world positively.

Previously, I always felt uneasy for not being independent and disturbing other people. For now I’m proud to be myself, because I understand how independence is like. Previously, there were things I did not think I could do, but now it is different…

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Assistance for personal assistants

Since Le Thi Muoi, a wheelchair-confined woman living in Ho Chi Minh City, met her personal assistant Tram, her life has completely changed.

She no longer has to depend on relatives, increasing her confidence and ability to interact with other people.

“I rarely wanted to leave home before, fearing people’ stares,” Muoi said, “but that is easier to me now, thanks to Tram. With her help, I can now do what I have thought I never could; like going to school or for a walk without bothering my family.”…

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My name is Dinh Thi Ly, the second-year student of the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Science Ho Chi Minh City. I have got a symptom that makes my body of a small size and undeveloped limbs. I have just gone through the first summer of my student life, which left me a lot of profound memories. One of the most unforgettable memories was that I had a chance to participate in the course of “Peer-Counseling”, which was directly taught by the Japanese in The First Hotel (23-27/08/2010).

The objective of this course was to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to support people with disabilities to promote their potentials in families and communities, to ensure the rights of people with disabilities in access to housing, employment, transportation, public facilities, recreational facilities, health and social service. The biggest meaning of this course that truthfully had a strong impression in my heart was “To encourage the right of self-determination of people with disabilities.”…

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As a recent graduated student of Sociology, I eagerly look for a job relating to my passion for doing social activities. I had been searching; I found and stayed working at Disability Resource and Development (DRD). I no longer see disabilities in their bodies as I did before. In contrast, I see those are the people with strong will and talents – which makes me feel so admired.

My major task at DRD is to support people with disabilities to live independently. And after one week being a personal assistant, it’s time for me to think seriously about my job, PA, which is rather new in Vietnam.

One of Independent Living Program activities is to provide PAs for people with disabilities. Due to defects in body structure, the function of people with disabilities declines; therefore, they should be facilitated to freely take part in social activities. However, not all people with disabilities need a PA to live independently, for independent living does not necessarily mean that people with disabilities have to do all for themselves without a help…

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How fast! So I have joined in Independent Living Program of DRD for almost a year. It’s not a long time but I have experienced several interesting things from the program, which have changed my life a lot.

I was born suffering from cerebral palsy, resulting in stiff limbs. I have got troubles in holding things, weakness in moving and I have sudden fall at times. Thus, I need much assistance in everyday activities from other people, especially from my family. However, I am able to deal with personal matters (e.g. washing up, dressing, brushing teeth, etc.) but it takes me 4 to 5 times slowlier than people without disabilities. Due to disabilities, a lot of my social activities are limited. Apart from school time, I hang around at home. When I need to go out, I have to ask whether there is anyone available to take me out, otherwise I must stay home. What a boring life! Sometimes I even have pessimistic thought of how useless I am…

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I am a person with rather severe disabilities, weak limbs, I have to use wheelchair and depend on surrounding people. I live in a tenement house (charity house) with other fellow in the same situation; my sphere of social activities is rather limited. Places for recreation, entertainment; studying language and computer; shopping; group and club activities; socializing with friends; going to bookstores, supermarkets, parks, etc.; all are only my dreams.

Every time I went out, I was always the focus of attention of many people because of my appearance of congenital defect and my wheelchair. I did not know why they saw me with a “pity” look? Or was I oversensitive? Since then, I became totally deficient of confidence, being more shy and timid. I did not dare to ask other people to do what I want.

I usually withdrew to myself watching time crawling. Many nights I stared into the dark and silent space, talking to myself about the loneliness, letting the wind guy wipe out the tears of self-pity. I did not care what would come! So boring!…

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How time flies. It’s nearly 6 months since I have participated in DRD’s Independent Living Program.  This period is neither too long nor too short but it has changed me in many aspects: from thinking, acting to deciding and choosing. After taking DRD’s activities, skills training courses and Peer-Counseling, I am now more positive about myself, more active, more self-confident and have stronger belief in others people’s helping.

Formerly, I had never thought and dared to think that one day I could go to the supermarket for necessaries, gifts, buying fish and vegetable on my own, not even cooking on my own. Since I finished Independent Living’s courses and especially with helping from PA, I could do many things which seem simple to others but me.

My life has totally changed. Every day, apart from studying (2 months ago) and working (at the present), I together with my PA pass by the market for buying meat, vegetables for cooking…

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