Talk to us

CathNews, the most frequently visited Catholic website in Australia, is your daily news service featuring Catholics and Catholicism from home and around the world, Mass on Demand and on line, prayer, meditation, reflections, opinion, and reviews. And, what's more - it's free!

Kirsty Robertson and Pham Thi Kieu Le from Catholic Relief Services with program participants at the Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (Caritas Australia)

Caritas Australia chief executive Kirsty Robertson has visited Caritas partner Catholic Relief Services and the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development in Vietnam to see some of their disability projects in action.

In Vietnam, up to 8 per cent of the population has a disability, with 75 per cent living in rural areas and experiencing lower rates of literacy and paid employment. 

The projects run by CRS and SRD, supported by Caritas Australia, aim to provide support for those with disability by addressing education, employment, rehabilitation, and health services.

The CRS school inclusion projects have seen the enrolment rate of children with disabilities increase from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. Of the 1450 youth with disabilities CRS supported over a ten-year period, 70 per cent of them now have high paying jobs in the technology sector.

SRD also provides rehabilitation and health support, from home-based care to the provision of assistive devices, which have increased the confidence and social participation of beneficiaries. 

One woman Ms Robertson met is a beneficiary of such programs as she lives with a fused spine and is confined to a wheelchair.

She gave Ms Robertson a dream catcher and said, “I give you this in the hope that your dreams come true. I know your dreams may be big but mine are simple. 

“I wanted a wheelchair to live an independent life – go to the toilet and have a shower without my dad to help me. I wanted to go to physical therapy – in the distant hope of one day walking again.

“Kirsty, through you all my dreams have come true. My hope is rekindled, and my dignity restored.” 

Ms Robertson said of the meeting, “It is easy to think about big projects and big problems. To dehumanise poverty. But this reminded me that we will be remembered by how we make people feel.

“Through the power of Caritas Australia and its partners our generosity can make people feel safe, loved and content. We are a beacon of light for people and so every small act of service, every donation, it matters, and it contributes to creating a more just world.”


Caritas Australia CEO shares stories of impact following a visit to disability projects in Vietnam (Caritas Australia)