Keo Phongmany lives with his wife and two children in the Xay district in the Oudomxay Province of Laos. He is 36 and has lived with incredible challenges throughout his life:

I’ve lived with disability since birth. I have no fingers on my left hand. Due to this, I’ve faced discrimination from my friends and community.

As if this wasn’t hard enough, when Keo was 15, he lost his left leg in an accident.

After high school, Keo received a scholarship to study at the vocational school for disabled people in Vientiane – the capital city. In 2011 he joined the Lao Disabled People Association (LDPA) where he continues to work today.

My work with LDPA was difficult as we had limited funds.  I was a very shy person.  I had no confidence to ask questions or share ideas when met with our partners.

Things changed when Keo became involved in Cord’s Connect project - Capacity Development and Networking to Enhance Civil Society in Laos. He was able to attend various training courses, including effective communication, strategic planning, making the most of social media, fundraising, and writing grant applications.

With the support of the project, I had opportunities to attend workshops with other civil society groups. I was able to demonstrate my ability and make contributions in these meetings.

Keo explains how dramatic the impact of this project has been:

"After the training my confidence to exchange my thoughts is significantly enhanced.  I am not afraid to raise questions, share my experience, make presentations and be more actively involved with fund raising. The Connect project has changed my life.

The impact of Connect will last long into the future as Keo explains:

"Thanks to Connect I am able to do consultancy work with a Swiss contact to coach 15 youth group members. I will be helping them to apply for jobs and prepare for project proposals. Now I feel happy that I can share my experience to inspire and motivate disadvantaged people, to demonstrate their ability and capacity, just like other people.

Keo’s life has changed and now, thanks to his work, other people are having their lives transformed. This is all made possible because of your donations. Please give generously so that we can empower more people like Keo to bring freedom and peace in their communities.