Vietnam Opens Doors for Persons with Disabilities

Pham Thi Gai and her son, next to the fully stocked shelves of her store.
Pham Thi Gai and her son stand next to the fully stocked shelves of her store.
Personalized support plans ignite new opportunities
“Sales are now more than double. My son goes to school now and enjoys it so much. We are so grateful for this help.”

April 2014"My daughter was born as a pretty baby,” said the mother of 38-year-old Pham Thi Gai, “but now, [she] lives in disability and tears.” Polio struck during childhood, leaving Gai with paralyzed limbs on the left side of her body. The years that followed were difficult as Gai and her mother attempted to make a living in the coastal area of Son Tra district in Danang.

Gai’s husband struggled to find work. They were unable to send their 4-year-old son to school due to their inability to read the school application forms. The shelves of their family store were nearly empty and Gai had very few customers.

Gai and her family received support to help revive her business from the USAID Program of Comprehensive and Integrated Support for People with Disabilities, which is working in collaboration with the local Department of Social Affairs. With training provided by USAID, a government case management team learned how to properly assess and develop an individual support plan customized to the needs of Gai and her family.

Together, the local government and USAID provided a small grant of $435 and training to Gai to supply and manage her store. Case managers also helped her get a loan from the local women’s union, which had denied her previous applications. Lastly, the case managers helped Gai navigate the paperwork and process to enroll her son in school. 

“Sales are now more than double. I have many clients for rice and phone cards and also for other more profitable items, such as beverages,” said Gai. “My son goes to school now and enjoys it so much. We are so grateful for this help.”

“I look at my daughter’s shop and feel so happy. Her life is changing now, thanks to the support of many people,” added Gai’s mother. 

Gai is one of more than 2,000 persons with disabilities who have benefited from the USAID project in Vietnam over the past year. The case management system adopted by the government and supported by USAID through training and technical assistance is a major step forward for people with disabilities and their families by addressing vocational, health and educational needs through individualized support plans.

USAID developed the Program of Comprehensive and Integrated Support to Persons with Disabilities to broadly address the needs and improve the lives of persons with disabilities in Vietnam. This three-year project, which runs from October 2012 to September 2015, is also enhancing selected public health disability prevention programs. The program works with local governments and NGOs in Danang, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai and other provinces, including those where the Government of Vietnam believes dioxin contributes to disability rates.


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