2 April 2020
We are committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities! That is why we encourage and provide assistance to other development organizations to involve people with disabilities in their programmes. We have done this at Plan International Laos, a development aid organization that is committed to the rights of girls in developing countries. Vimala, the Country Director of Plan International Laos, talks about the collaboration between Plan International Laos and Light for the World.
Could you elaborate on your role within Plan Laos?
I, Vimala, am the Deputy Country Director – Programs of Plan Laos. At Plan Laos, we currently have three main programs – Public Health, Basic Education and Adolescent programming. Within the Adolescent Program we are a part of the collaboration between Plan Finland and Light for the World. Your team was improving the quality of the programmes for Plan Finland when it comes to inclusion and moving forward as a team to get knowledge about inclusion. So we were very enthusiastic to work together.
Could you tell me something about the cooperation between Plan Laos and Light for the World?
We believe in the same theory of change as Light for the World: that is to achieve social justice, we need to address social norms and stereotypes. It’s not only about influencing the community, it’s also about creating partnerships and looking for opportunities to remove barriers for people with disabilities. Therefore, we wanted to develop a strategy where we could work together with governments and other partners. Team Light for the World has the know–how and experience to their partners like Plan International to shift attitudes, positions and even values of many people and partners that are discriminatory against people with disabilities. Even without knowing it we do hold this ideas, because of our subconscious bias. Working with Team Light Cambodia, we have a partner who understands what it takes to mainstream inclusion and they really understand what is necessary to make a big change. They know what happens in the field.
Could you give some examples about challenges you face in creating inclusion in your organisation?
The challenge that we faced, was how we could include more people with disabilities in our programmes and how we could change the mind-set of our staff and partners. Inclusion was never on the top of our minds, so that was the main goal to change. It was a big learning process. With the great help of David and his Light Cambodia team, inclusion is now more on the top of our minds and all the staff members are willing to implement it into the programmes. Now there is a lot of commitment and that is so amazing to see!
The team of Light for the World Cambodia conduct visits to Laos for training, planning and advice since 2018. They really helped us with coaching and changing our mind-set when it comes to inclusion. Now we have tools to share with the beneficiaries and we can implement the learnings in the programmes. Like for the baseline of the Washington Group questions. We wanted to train our team and give them resources about disability inclusion. Light for the World developed handouts with key information, so our team can define disabilities and use models about disability inclusion. This resources is an examples of the good tools that Light for the World has to help our team gain new insights on inclusion.
Are there any opportunities for further development?
Yes, there are a lot of opportunities to improve working with people with disabilities and it takes time to implement everything in the programmes. But it’s a step by step process: for now we’re are very happy. We are thankful that our staff is trained and for their changed their mind-set and attitude when it comes to inclusion of people with disabilities.
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