Vireak, a young disability rights leader, Cambodia

Vireak’s Story.

Vireak, is a young leader at ADD Cambodia, part of our programme to support young activism and leadership. Here he shares his story.

Young Leader.

“Earlier this year, I was looking for work. One teacher told me about ADD and she encouraged me to go there. I was worried I wouldn’t be good enough to be part of the programme, but I was selected to be a young leader. 

Being a young leader is the best opportunity for me. I don’t have any work experience – I just graduated from high school last year. Being a young leader is one of the greatest chances I have ever had to improve my abilities.

“Working at ADD I have learnt a lot about the rights of people with disabilities – about my rights. The legal framework for disability rights in Cambodia is good, but it is not fully implemented. In my role, I organise trainings so that organisations of people with disabilities can learn more about their rights and how to advocate.

Around the world, young people are often absent in positions of leadership. The Young Leaders programme centres young people with disabilities and their experiences, supporting them to grow and advocate for change. 

Young people are not usually listened to or given a chance. But, as youth we have a lot of power to make change. We have a lot of time to improve, grow and get experience. 

There is a barrier to people with disabilities, and especially women with disabilities to be part of society. There is lots of work to be done in Cambodia to improve this.

We want our voice to be heard by the world. We want our rights to be known by the world.

I want to see people with disabilities being able to participate fully in everything in Cambodia – education, work, earning a salary. Enough to live their lives fully. 

I’m proud of my bravery. Before joining ADD I was very afraid but now I feel inspired to move forward. I’ve had the chance to do things I had never done before. This new bravery has changed my life.

Vireak, a young leader in Cambodia.

I’ve done so many things in my time with ADD that I’ve never done before. It’s my first experience of work but it’s already my second home.

ADD made me have positive opinions, trust in my rights, belief in myself, and I feel one day, I will take the law of people with disabilities to advocate to non-people with disabilities. I keep trying to learn and make a difference.”

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