My name is Hoàng Nhật Minh and I have a congenital visual impairment. I am a Communications cum Special Needs Education officer at Saigon Children’s Charity. Today I would like to tell my story from the perspective of a disabled person, and how access to quality education has opened up opportunities for me as well as realised my potentials.
Naturally, I was drawn to special needs education and social work since I was small. I have almost 10 years of experience in teaching martial arts to kids with Down syndrome, as well as coordinating sports activities for children on the autism spectrum. This kind of work does not only help me empathise with the children but also through it I have gained a sense of confidence in myself, helping me believe that I am no one’s burden.
Education also played an important role in who I am today. The full scholarship in Professional Communications at a well-known international university in Vietnam that I got at 18 really opened up many opportunities that I had not thought should be in any of a disabled person’s realistic expectations. The state-of-the-art curriculum and facilities, as well as the inclusive environment, taught me much more than just knowledge of the trade. The teachers believed in me and encouraged me to join projects to support other disabled students. They also helped me to find the best internship for my situation, which at the time was at Saigon Children’s Charity.
From an intern to an official employee, the more I work at saigonchildren, the more I realise education is the key to better futures for disadvantaged children. The education that I’ve had and the educators that I’ve met in my life have changed me from a boy full of self-pity to a person owning up to his abilities as well as disabilities. Education empowers me to dare to be who I am today. That’s why, every day, I work hard with my colleagues to ensure that children who are at a disadvantage, either by disability or economic status, are empowered through education to change their lives for the better.