Welcome Back!

You have Gifts for Good in your basket.

Welcome Back!

Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

ChildFund Australia is thrilled to welcome Annabelle Williams on board as an ambassador.

Annabelle (pictured left) is a Paralympic Gold Medallist, motivational speaker, lawyer, TV Reporter, sports commentator, an advisor to the Australian Olympic Committee and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport. She is also a mother, a disability rights advocate and believes in the power of using sport to encourage social inclusion.

“I think the work that ChildFund does is extraordinary – education, healthcare, sports care – those are the essentials that every child needs access to,” she says.

Annabelle is an ally for people living with disability. Born without her left hand, something her doctors could never quite explain, she has always chosen to see her disability as a strength.

“The positive things that have happened in my life have completely outweighed the challenges. Or maybe I’ve chosen to look at the bright side or seen it as an opportunity for growth.

Annabelle credits the support of her family for being able to overcome many of these challenges in her life, but she knows that not all children are as fortunate.

Approximately 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. It is estimated that 80% of those with a disability live in developing countries. This is largely a result of poor access to healthcare, civil or domestic violence, and widespread communicable diseases.

In many of the communities that ChildFund works with, children with a disability often experience social exclusion, harassment, have difficulty accessing adequate healthcare and a quality education and face a negative stigma. ChildFund is committed to challenging this stigma and exclusion through education; and so is Annabelle.

“Access to a quality education for children with a disability is incredibly important. Education is power. The more educated we all are – not just people with a disability – the more we can have agency over ourselves and the more likely we’ll be able to determine our own future.”

As an ambassador for ChildFund, Annabelle will advocate for the rights of children across many areas of the Convention of the rights of the Child CRC including the right to health, education, to live free from violence to birth registration to decent housing and the right to play- which includes sport and recreation.  

An avid athlete herself, first with running and then swimming on the Australian Paralympic team later in life, she is particularly excited to support ChildFund’s flagship program, Sport for Development. The program encourages children and young people, with an emphasis on young girls, to learn a new sport. Through this they learn vital life skills to help them on and off the field.

Annabelle has always valued the opportunities that sport has provided her to develop her confidence in her abilities, learn leadership skills, and to socialise with her friends.

Annabelle will champion children’s rights and advocate that each child has the right to a childhood. Children with disability add value, strength, and diversity to our communities – this must be recognised. “Children with disabilities have skills and strengths that the world would be lucky to have. They’re excellent and incredible problem solvers. Throughout our whole life, especially as adults, whether it’s in the workforce or playing sports – you want to be able to problem solve.”

Annabelle hopes that by sharing her story and taking on this role as a ChildFund Ambassador, she’ll be able to inspire children around the world to claim their full potential – and change the stigma around living with a disability by advocating for change to end discrimination and exclusion.

Annabelle has a message for children around the world living with a disability: “Never underestimate what you’re capable of; because I think society tends to underestimate us. Realise that there’s nothing you are incapable of doing. You’ll be able to figure out a way to do whatever you want to do. You’ll be able to work it out.”

In October 2021, Bui Thanh Huyen was awarded a Women of the Future Award because of her inspirational work coaching rugby for young girls and advocating for gender equality. She is a coach for ChildFund’s Sport for Development program, Pass it Back in the Kim Boi District, Vietnam.

The Women of the Future Awards recognises women from a variety of sectors who are unafraid to challenge gender stereotypes, break boundaries and drive policy change through hard-work, courage, and determination.

“It is critical for our society to have more women in leadership roles. When women have equal access to spaces where decisions are being made, it will benefit everyone,” said Huyen.

Huyen coaching at the ChildFund Pass it Back program.

Using sport as a platform, the ChildFund Sport for Development program, Pass It Back, challenges gender stereotypes that prevent girls from accessing higher education and leadership roles and equips young girls and women with important leadership and life skills to reach their full potential. Pass It Back is committed to achieving 50% female participation at all levels of the program and fostering an environment where both male and female participants can thrive.

Huyen is passionate about women’s leadership and believes that to achieve gender equality, women need to lead the conversation.

Huyen was born and raised in a mountainous province in Northern Vietnam, where rugby was unheard of and women, and girls weren’t encouraged to take part in sports. As a farmer, a wife, and a mother, she used to spend most of her time either at home or in the rice field, contributing to the family livelihood.

“When I joined ChildFund Rugby’s Pass It Back program in 2015, I took part in a bunch of trainings. I learned so many things I didn’t know before. Besides learning a new sport, I also learned life skills that are useful for me both on and off the pitch. I wanted so much to pass this knowledge to the younger generations,” said Huyen.

Huyen loves being a coach so that she can contribute to bringing children in the community, especially girls, the opportunity to play sport and learn valuable life skills in a safe and fun environment. 

“Where I come from, girls don’t have the same opportunities because they are expected to stay home to help their parents with house chores. I wanted to change that, and that is what drives me to work harder each day.”

She advocates for boys and girls to have equal access to sporting and education opportunities. “I’ve learned that women can do whatever they want and be as good as men, regardless of what the society says. They can play rugby. They can coach. They can be leaders.” 

Huyen with her rugby team.

Two years after becoming a coach, Huyen was appointed to be a Coach Group Leader. In the role she managed and provided support to the other coaches in her area. The same year, she started her role as a Life Skills and a Measuring Change Coordinator. Huyen later travelled to Laos and Cambodia to support Coach Trainings in those countries. In 2020, Huyen become an Area Manager, overseeing the implementation of all rugby and life skills projects in Kim Boi District.

She says that leadership can be as simple as providing support to someone and that anyone can be a leader. “I now believe that nothing is impossible. Anyone can be a leader. Becoming a coach gave me the opportunity to continue my once incomplete education in another way and I’ve learned and grown so much from that.”

When asked how she felt about receiving the Women of the Future award, Huyen smiled and said, “I am not the only one. Every female coach and player in our program is a future leader.” 

In the future, Huyen hopes to continue to promote gender equality. “I hope that what I have been doing will inspire and encourage other women and girls in my community to step up and raise their voice so that they can claim their rights, make their own decision and do what they want to do. I now believe that nothing is impossible.”