US Congressional Delegation visits VNAH Projects

 DANANG CITY, April 19, 2014 - Senator Patrick Leahy welcomes Phan Van Son (left) and Tran Cong Phuong (right), both are beneficiaries of the Leahy War Victims Funds as Senator Richard Shelby and Mr. Tim Rieser look on.

DANANG CITY, April 19, 2014 - Senator Patrick Leahy welcomes Phan Van Son (left) and Tran Cong Phuong (right), both are beneficiaries of the Leahy War Victims Funds as Senator Richard Shelby and Mr. Tim Rieser look on.

 Senator Leahy in Thu Duc District in 1996

Senator Leahy in Thu Duc District in 1996

A U.S. Congressional delegation led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) visited Danang and participated in a luncheon hosted by Viet Nam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH) and local private business on April 19, 2014. 

Accompanying Sen. Leahy were Sen. Richard Shelby (Republican-Alabama), Sen. Mike Crapo (Republican-Idaho), Rep. James Cooper (Democrat-Tennessee and Re. Peter Welch (Democrat-Vermont). 

More than 20 members of the National Employer Council -- the Blue Ribbon of Employers Council (BREC) and workers with disabilities and several landmine survivors from Danang city participated in the special event. They shared their experience in training and hiring workers with disabilities and the positive impact of BREC in creating employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Vietnam. BREC is an activity of the Inclusion of Vietnamese with Disabilities Program (IVWD), which funded by USAID. 

In his remarks, Senator Leahy praised the leadership role of VNAH in working with the private business sector and the government in the training and employment as well as the area of program development and policy for persons with disabilities.

After the lunch meeting the delegation attended a wheelchairs distribution organized by DAI and VNAH in Hoa Vang District. This activity is a part of the Disability Support Program (DSP) funded by USAID. The three-year DSP Program aims to address the need and improve the lives of Vietnamese with disabilities including people affected by Agent Orange Dioxin.

In 1996, Senator Leahy also led a five-member Congressional Delegation and visited VNAH's prosthetics and rehabilitation program in Ho Chi Minh City where he met with landmine and UXO survivors. With his steadfast support and encouragement, VNAH has worked with the Vietnamese government and private foundations to provide prosthetics and rehabilitation assistance and service to more than 130 thousands people with disabilities.

Vietnam Moving Toward U.N Disability Treaty Ratification

Hànội – Thursday, October 9, 2014 - High-level Vietnamese officials announced at a National Conference that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is likely to be ratified by the National Assembly in its upcoming session. The conference was organized by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) working in partnership with the National Assembly's Committee of Social Affairs, and was received technical assistance and funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam Assistance for the Handicapped (VNAH).

 Mr. Joakim Parker, Mission Director of USAID addresses the conference.

Mr. Joakim Parker, Mission Director of USAID addresses the conference.

The conference was chaired by Mr. Le Manh Hung, Vice-chairman of National Assembly Committee on Social Welfare, and Mr. Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister of MOLISA. Nearly 100 participants attended including National Assembly Delegates, Central Government Officials, members of the National Assembly from provinces of the 3 regions, representatives of Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) and media. Other honored guests included Mr. Joakim Parker, Mission Director of USAID, and special guest and speaker Dr. Michael Stein, Professor from Harvard University, USA.

Vice Minister Dam opened the conference and expressed a need for Vietnam to ratify the CRDP in order to set out a legal framework that ensure the protection on the rights of the Vietnamese with disabilities. Vice Chair Hung noted that CRPD ratification by the National Assembly would be the first UN Convention approved since revision of Vietnam’s constitution. The Committee of Social Affairs and the Committee of Foreign Affairs are working toward ratification of the CRDP which is expected to be reviewed by the National Assembly's Standing Committee on November 3rd and approved by the National Assembly on November 29th, 2014. 

The National Assembly and Government's dedicated commitment to CRPD ratification and consequent improvement of the lives of Vietnamese with disabilities impressed the conference participants. USAID's Vietnam Mission Director, Mr. Joakim Parker, acknowledged the progress made thus far in Vietnam in addressing the needs of persons with disabilities and urged the National Assembly’s ratification of UNCRPD. He underscored that USAID programming will continue to support of the rights of persons with disabilities and their inclusion into all aspects of society through increased employment opportunities and improved independent living. 

The highlight of the conference was a presentation by Harvard Law School's Professor Stein who focused on the experiences of developed and developing countries in ratifying the CRPD, both the challenges and opportunities, as well as what action plans are needed to ensure effective implementation of the CRPD. His presentation attracted questions from Government and National Assembly officials, who demonstrated their commitment and willingness in moving toward CRPD ratification.  

Strong recommendations and suggestions from Vietnamese with disabilities, the direct beneficiaries of the CRPD after its ratification, were shared by DPOs and persons with disabilities throughout the day, and were well received by the officials present.