As co-founder of the Association for Autism, Viengsam is pioneering life-changing work for children with autism in Laos. Like any inspiring leader, Viengsam has had to tackle obstacles along the way. Find out how your support helped her to overcome them and achieve so much more.   

Viengsam is a single mum to a son with autism. Perhaps you or someone close to you has experience of raising a child with particular educational needs. I’m sure you can appreciate some of the unique challenges this represents – especially in the face of inadequate support. 

Unfortunately, the situation for these families in Laos is extremely harsh. The Laos government has largely ignored autistic children, failing to provide education and leaving them extremely vulnerable. In fact, Viengsam’s son was initially unable to attend school. 

Viengsam wasn’t willing to accept this. Like any parent, she wanted her son to access education where he could be included and valued. She wanted her son to enjoy the same opportunities as other children and fulfil his potential. In 2012, together with other parents, she established the Association for Autism (AFA). It campaigns for access to education and a better life for all children with autism in Laos.  

As AFA grew, Viengsam began to encounter problems. It was difficult to gain funding, and AFA struggled to adapt and carry out its work. As a result, AFA often had to rely on external support.  

This is where wonderful supporters like you enter the story. At this critical time, Cord’s CEGGA project was able to step in with financial and practical help.  

Through Cord, AFA received a small grant and some coaching. This helped in the short-term, but something even more significant was to follow. CEGGA enabled Viengsam to access training in areas such as Project Development and Planning. She used this knowledge to successfully apply for funding which moved the Association forward – beyond anything that Viengsam had ever imagined would be possible!  

Viengsam’s story is a powerful reminder that investing in one individual can lead to lasting transformation for entire families and communities.  

Thanks to Cord, Viengsam developed her confidence, expertise and leadership. AFA has become more competent and self-reliant. The Laos government has a growing trust in AFA and there is a greater recognition of their work within society. An increasing number of children with autism can successfully access education. More parents are seeing the positive impact in the lives of their children. 

Thanks to your generous support, Viengsam has fulfilled her vision. Her son and other children with autism are now being educated. They have a safe space to express themselves and can pursue their dreams.  

Viengsam says: 

“This opportunity has given me greater self-confidence and courage to lead and create bigger impact. It has widened my perspective to invest in organisational development for future sustainability. Cord provided the training opportunity at the proper time, as we were in great need of it.”