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Hoang's story

The valuable experiences after a month of living independently

I first learned about the independent living program in May, 2011 through a workshop in Hai Phong with the leaders of the Hanoi Independent Living Center (Hanoi ILC).  The thing which  impressed me most was the enthusiasm of the Personal Assistants (PAs).

I was trained for living independently at the ILC from the 24th to the 26th of September, 2011. Commencing in October, 2011, I was the first person with disability of Hai Phong offered PA service with the duration of 4 hours per day.

Before learning about and participating in the Independent Living Program (ILP), I rarely went out and took part in social activities. I would ask myself"What am I out for" and "Who would help me out?”  But since having the PAs' support, I have become proactive in my activities such as going out, visiting my friends who I avoided and ignored for a long time.  I have been able to practice independent living for three days and have successfully completed a 10-day training course at Hanoi ILC with the PAs' support. My life has become easier even for the smallest daily activities.  And most importantly, with the PAs' help, I myself have found that I am able to live independently and I have gradually mastered my own life.


The PA was helping me with moving and sightseeing in the park

At the end of October, new PAs will be assigned to help me. I remember my friends  in Hanoi saying "When working with the PAs the most difficult is to make acquaintance with the PAs."  However, I think this could also be an experience for me in the process of my own independent living. And I hope that the model of independent living in Hai Phong may soon develop, so that other people with disabilities (PWD) can also get the PAs' help.  Thereby they will also get a comfortable life and will be able to live independently and will have good and interesting experiences like me.

The unforgettable training course.

Upon receiving an email from the  Hanoi Independent Living Centre about a training course on peer counseling leadership, initially I was very hesitant. The course would last 10 days, I worried that my family would not let me go, plus my health condition could not be supported. However, my friends encouraged me a lot, and they told me that no matter what I decided, they would still respect my decision.  It is at that moment that I thought it over and decided to take part in the course.

I arrived at Hanoi Independent Living Centre, after a long journey and I met many other PWD. When seeing a lot of people with more severe disabilities than me, who remained optimistic and joyful, I found out that my decision to go to Hanoi was absolutely correct.

We started the Training Course on Peer Consultation (a term that I knew before but was still very vague) and I realized that for many years I had not racked my brain or thought and acquired knowledge about new things in life. The next training days we learned very useful and practical knowledge and skills such as Human Nature, How to Relieve Emotion, Disability and Support Group... Through the lessons learnt, I have realized that the deviatory viewpoints of the society on people with disabilities is one of  the major factors which make the people with disabilities become passive and find it difficult to integrate into the social life. Nevertheless, besides the above-mentioned mistaken judgments, there are still positive viewpoints towards people with disabilities, which help them, become optimistic, joyful in their life.


Receiving a certificate of training course

In the practice sessions, I was appointed as a team leader. For a long time I have had no contact with the outside world, not thought and worked in a positive way, but I thought I would try my best.  All participants in the practice always played me in different situations. They shared valuable experiences obtained through the peer counseling sessions that they wanted to communicate to me. The atmosphere in the practice sessions was always full of constant, funny laughter but we were all working very seriously. Though, there were many embarrassments and shortcomings, I was really happy to have learned a lot of the useful and interesting experiences.

Finishing the training course, we had a short exchange meeting with the leadership of Hanoi Independent Living Centre to make plans on peer counseling locally. The 10-day training course ended so quickly. I am returning to Hai Phong with a  lot of work to do in the innitial period, but I have recognized that I have already been changed: more knowledgeable, more confident and more independent.

Hoang - Hai Phong

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