U.S. Ambassador Supports Disabilities Inclusion Activities in Xieng Khuang

(KPL) Continuing the United States’ tradition of partnering with the government of the Lao PDR to help those with disabilities, on Sep 24-25, U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter joined Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Baykham Kattiya in leading a delegation to visit a disabilities inclusion project site in Xieng Khuang.

The delegation saw first-hand how the Okard project, funded by the United States through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), works with the government of Laos to help people with disabilities engage in their communities and participate more actively in society.

Ambassador Bitter and Deputy Minister Baykham observed community awareness raising and screening activities in Kouymor village, located in Xieng Khuang’s Kham district. These activities are led by Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) facilitators from the Quality of Life Association (QLA), a local non-profit association.

I was impressed with the work of these CBID facilitators, said Ambassador Bitter. By helping persons with disabilities access and take advantage of economic and social opportunities, the Okard project demonstrates the American people’s support for Lao citizens in building a more inclusive, healthy, and prosperous Lao PDR.

USAID’s Okard project works with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health, together with implementing partners World Education, Humanity and Inclusion, and QLA, to promote disability inclusive policies so that no person is left behind. The project connects policy level support to individuals and communities through case management and community mobilization in two districts in Xieng Khuang and Savannakhet provinces. In its first three months of operation, CBID facilitators have so far reached over 1,750 people as part of community awareness sessions, and have conducted screenings for more than 500 persons with disabilities in Xieng Khuang Province.

While in Xieng Khuang, Ambassador Bitter visited the Mulberries Organic Silk Farm social enterprise, where English language students from the U.S.-supported Lone Buffalo Foundation gave her a guided tour.

She also saw the Plain of Jars, which recently became Laos’ third UNESCO World Heritage site, and paid a courtesy call to Xieng Khuang Governor Bountone Chanthaphone.

The United States partners with the government and people of Laos to improve education, promote health and nutrition, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the rule of law.

Source: Lao News Agency