Research in a village, Cambodia
Since its establishment in 2002, APCD has been facilitating collaboration among organizations of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region to promote their empowerment and an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society. APCD has conducted various training programs and workshops on disability issues, in which persons with disabilities from the region contributed by sharing their expertise in such areas as the strengthening of their self-help organizations and implementing community-based rehabilitation activities. Over the years, it has been proven that persons with disabilities are the most effective persons to support their peers in neighboring countries.
A clear example of positive impacts brought about by south-to-south cooperation can be seen in the development of Deaf persons’ self-help organizations. Deaf Thai leaders, who have acquired new knowledge and enhanced their leadership skills through attending APCD activities and JICA training courses, are now actively supporting Deaf persons in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. They have conducted various workshops in these countries, encouraging Deaf persons to form their organizations and promoting their family members’ understanding of the needs and potential of Deaf persons. In the case of Deaf Lao leaders, Thai Deaf organizations conducted an internship program for them in Thailand, providing both technical and financial support for training and covering part of the expenses, while the Deaf Lao participants found external funding to pay their own airfare to travel to Thailand.
Another remarkable example can be found in post-disaster responses. Thai leaders with disabilities, who experienced tsunami in 2004, were quick to suggest that they should provide peer support to persons with disabilities in Kashmir, who were affected by an earthquake in 2005. They conducted counseling with the victims of the earthquake and encouraged the organizations of persons with disabilities in Pakistan to work together to provide emotional support to their peers and to liaise with the Government to develop a strategy for disaster prevention which is inclusive of persons with disabilities.
South-to-south cooperation, facilitated by the activities of APCD, has been expanding, and the partnership among organizations of persons with disabilities in the region has been getting firmer.