Malteser International at the Global Platform in Geneva
When the 11-year-old Tran Cong Danh started to participate in a Malteser International project at his home village in Vietnam, he proved to be a strong advocate for the right of persons with disabilities to be protected from disasters. So Malteser International invited Danh to Geneva, to speak at the UN’s Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which took place from 19 to 23 May. His participation on the children’s event, “The resilient future we want: Children and Disaster Risk Reduction”, was a great success, as Danh was able to captivate the audience and call attention to an important topic.
Danh, who was born with a physical disability as well as a speech impairment, shared his terrifying experience as his home was flooded and he was barely able to escape the waters. He recalled how frightened he was as he told the international conference’s participants how he was able to escape. “My parents put me on a banana leaf to float to safety on the flood, but I was so scared and I said no, so they carried me up to the second floor of my home, where I was safe,” he said. Danh and his family have now been trained and know how to react in case their home gets flooded again. They are also on a priority evacuation list and will receive help from the villagers to evacuate. But Danh wants to make sure no disabled child has to experience what he has. “From that experience, whenever I see floods and rain, I feel very scared,” he told the audience. He then asked the decision-makers present to take action: “First, please evacuate people with disabilities to a safe place before non-disabled people. Second, please teach children with disabilities how to prepare for disaster. For children with hearing impairment who have difficulties in learning, please get the parents involved so they can also teach their children at home,” he said.
Danh’s speech moved the audience, which gave him a standing ovation. “He would like to share his experience once he goes back to his school and would like to continue to contribute his opinions to his community,” says Sae Kani, inclusive DRR advisor for Matleser International.
Malteser International has helped 47 Vietnamese villages keep their communities safe with emergency plans, early warning systems and trained rescue teams.
Malteser International is a member of the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Network.