The Lao Disabled Women Development Centre (LDWDC) is an NGO based just outside Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Founded in 1990 as a sewing group in the home of the Director, Madam Chanhpheng Sivila, they initially taught disabled women the skills of needlework and pattern making. In 2002, the group officially became the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre — an active advocate for the rights to recognition and equal opportunities for disabled women.
From their earliest days, they have addressed the struggles of women with disabilities to access rights such as education, professional training and employment. Persons with disabilities face multiple barriers when seeking access to such rights, which is often due to social stigma and the lack of inclusive practices from employers.
Emma Ryan from the Octopus Group spent a month in Laos working with the LDWDC team in order to help them implement more effective advocacy and fundraising strategies. LDWDC’s team — made up of passionate, hard-working professionals — had been struggling to apply for grants and expand their reach within Lao society. Emma’s work has been crucial to guide them towards more effective strategies that will ensure a financially sustainable future for the organisation.
The Centre is known throughout Vientiane for the beautiful handicrafts made by the very same disabled women whom the Centre supports. However, selling these handicrafts had been a difficult task for them due to a lack of marketing skills. Emma helped them with that aspect of their work as well, with instructions on how to make the photography of handicrafts and the online shop more attractive. In the end, the Centre was able to partner up with a local bar in Vientiane that has started supporting handicraft sales and has given the Centre a space to showcase their work.