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Why a father carried his daughter to school each day

Mai (pictured above) has a new friend that accompanies her to school: a green and silver wheelchair that rolls through the dirt and hills of her village in rural Laos with ease.

Before the wheelchair, it was just Mai and her father Win. The trek to school was a little more challenging: Win would carry his daughter on his back to her class each morning.

“I love my daughter,” Win says. “I want to see her have a good future and a good life. That’s why I carried her to school every day for years.”

Mai, who is a funny and friendly 10 year-old, was born with a disability that limits her mobility. Her legs and fingers are paralysed and she is unable to walk without assistance from her family and friends.

“All my life I spent my time at home,” Mai says. “I have my parents and brother but they on their own could not fulfil all my needs.

“I wanted to gain more knowledge, I wanted a chance to study in school and play with many friends.”

Children with disability like Mai are among the most vulnerable groups in their communities, especially if they live in remote and rural areas. They often face many challenges, including access to education because schools are far from their homes or do not have the facilities to support them.

After seeing how much his daughter wanted to go to school, Win began carrying his daughter to class.

However, on mornings when Win had to work, Mai missed school because there was no one else who could carry her.

Before Mai received a wheelchair from ChildFund, Win would carry his daughter to school each morning. “I want to see her have a good future and a good life,” he says.

Since receiving a wheelchair this year, with the help of ChildFund Laos and the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Mai and her family’s lives have been transformed.

For Mai’s parents, the wheelchair means they do not miss work and can continue to earn an income to feed their family.

“My family and I have been so happy since I got this wheelchair,” Mai says. “Whenever my parents are busy, my brother can use this wheelchair to take me to school.”

For Mai, there is a newfound sense of freedom and independence. She feels her future is bright and full of potential.

“This wheelchair is the best gift that I have prayed for,” she says. “It is like my friend and it gives me a good childhood like other children have.

“I can now go to the toilet and have meals by myself and go out to play with friends.

“I will use this wheelchair to take myself to success in the future, especially through education, and I won’t be a burden to my family.”

“This wheelchair is the best gift that I have prayed for,” Mai says.

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