Funding Needed to Improve Lives of Disabled People


The Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Centre in Vientiane is continuing its work to raise money to improve conditions for disabled people in Laos, with over 1,000 people in need of the centre’s help.

COPE Chief Executive Officer Ms Bounlanh Phayboun told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that more than 1,000 disabled people are currently registered at the Medical Rehabilitation Centre on Khouvieng Road.

Some 30 to 35 percent of those seeking help have been injured and disabled in accidents involving unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Ms Bounlanh said “Every year, we need US$500,000 to US$600,000 to fund our work. Some years we need US$800,000 to US$1,200,000 if we have to improve or build new facilities or offices.”

“But we set funding targets and so far each year we have been able to meet those targets. Every year we receive money from international organisations and also sell products at the centre such as paper bags, cloth bags, clothing items, mugs and other items,” she added.

Most of the international organisations that support the centre are based in the US, Australia, Canada and Norway.

Funding from the US government and other bodies enables the Centre to provide people with disabilities, including UXO survivors, with access to prosthetic and  rehabilitation services.

The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise also assists and provides prosthetics and equipment for the manufacture of prostheses at the Medical Rehabilitation Centres in Vientiane, Xieng Khuang, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces.

These centres make prosthetics and provide physical rehabilitation services for officials who were injured in the war as well as serve other disabled people in Laos.

During the 28th and 29th Asean Summits held in Vientiane last week, US President Barack Obama visited the COPE Centre and met some of the people who had been injured in UXO-related accidents.

During his visit, Mr Obama talked to a UXO survivor, Thoummy Silamphan, who was injured as a boy when a device exploded in Xieng Khuang province.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Obama said “We see the determination in the survivors of UXO accidents. Some of you heard me talking to Thoummy Silamphan, who joins us here today. When he was just a young child, he was badly wounded by a UXO explosion and lost his left hand. But rather than losing hope, he’s dedicated his life to providing hope for others. Through his organisation, the Quality of Life Association, Thoummy has helped survivors get medical care, find work, and rebuild their lives with a sense of dignity.”


Source: Vientiane Times