Asia's first-ever International Disability Concert Series was a smashing success-bringing together disabled performers and thousands of disabled spectators for two days of music and dancing on Nov. 25-26 in Laos and Dec. 2-3 in Vietnam. With funding support from Nippon Foundation, VNAH worked with governments and local NGOs in Lao and Vietnam to organize the first major International Disability Concert Festivals in Vientiane and Ho Chi Minh City.
In Vietnam, disabled performers from Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia and Laos, including the hearing-impaired Japanese Taiko Drummers and a young Laotian deaf dancer, entertained audiences in and around Ho Chi Minh City.
The first day of performances were staged at Suoi Tien Amusement Park on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. Thousands of children with disabilities enjoyed the performances and a free day at the amusement park, organized by the Department of Labor and Social Affairs of Ho Chi Minh City. Thanks to funding by VNAH, a group of disabled people and ethnic minority children from the Ninh Binh, Dak Lak and Quang Nam provinces were able to travel to participate in the event.
The capstone of the festivities were performances on Sunday, Dec. 3-the UN-proclaimed International Day of Disabled Persons-at the Opera House in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese dignitaries and luminaries, including vice chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Hall, and representatives of the Japanese and American consulates attended the event.
For those who couldn't witness the concerts in person, national television networks in both Vientiane and Ho Chi Minh City covered the event live-bringing to a national audience the critical message of the program: Given a chance, disabled people can lead full, productive lives.