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No disability can stop a child from learning. Only the absence of educational opportunities is able do that. Unfortunately, this is the situation in many parts of the world, where, due to profound misconceptions and discriminatory practices, disabled children have no access to the education that would transform their lives. In Myanmar, this fuels a cycle of hopelessness, as disabled children become impoverished adults with few job prospects and even fewer opportunities for happiness.
The Disability Development Initiative (DDI) is breaking down these formidable barriers. Founded by the Rev. Dr. Sang Uk Cung in 2008, the DDI is creating an inclusive environment in which persons with disabilities are able to live with dignity and enjoy the same opportunities taken for granted by most members of society. Among its many activities, the DDI advocates for inclusive education, provides rehabilitation and special education for disabled children, and creates jobs.
Without Arms, A Boy Embraces the Future
Lal Rem Ruat is a thoughtful, intelligent 13-year-old boy, the eldest of four children. He was born without arms and with one leg shorter than the other. Through necessity, he became so dextrous with his right foot that he can use it as others would a hand. After his parents’ divorce, Rem Ruata, along with his mother and siblings, moved in with his grandmother. Each day, they struggle to put food on the table.
Despite his marvelous ability to write with his foot, Rem Ruata was not allowed to enroll in school. He was heartbroken, and his mother, having no idea where to turn for help, was left feeling hopeless. Then his neighbors contacted the director of the DDI. After meeting with the family and evaluating their situation, the DDI lobbied the District Education Department on the boy’s behalf. Eventually, he was able to enroll in school. The DDI’s involvement did not stop there. To accommodate Rem Ruata’s unique writing technique, the DDI created a special desk that would make it easier for him to use his foot. They also subsidize his tuition and school supplies.
Now Rem Ruata is in grade five. He loves school and has many friends. His mother is thrilled that her son has a promising future—that he will not be a “wasted person,” as those without opportunity are sometimes called. Although he still faces challenges, he is perpetually cheerful and looks forward to work with computer when he grows up.
We Want To Do So Much More
The DDI has helped more than 50 children with disabilities in the Kalay District and Chin State. Their comprehensive approach is essential to reversing the downward spiral faced by families in despair. Ultimately, the DDI is not only committed to advocating for the disabled and providing financial aid, but also to assisting in all aspects of a child’s education and well being, as well as lightening the burden of the family.
According to a recent census, 7.4% of the population of Chin State—just over 35,000 people—are disabled.* This is one of highest concentrations in all of Myanmar. Consequently, the DDI is expanding operations in Chin State, where help is so desperately needed. But we can’t do it alone.
You Bring The Light
Our staff is made up almost entirely of individuals with some form of disability, goodhearted people working diligently to help others. But we also need your help. For just US$200 (about 50 cents a day), you can keep a disabled child in school for a year. Your donation covers tuition, study materials, transportation, and basic nutrition. The DDI’s goal is to support 50 such children for the next year, which means we need to raise US$10,000. No matter how you support us, your donation will bring light into the lives of children who would otherwise be forced to live in the shadows.
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