Social media can be a fun time filler, like when you scan your Twitter feed to see how everyone else reacted to Beyonce’s pregnancy. Social media can also be a powerful political tool, like how Arab youth mobilized mass crowds on Facebook to protest authoritarian regimes. Or, social media can be a platform for philanthropic good, like what OneVietnam is doing with iStory — our pilot project that empowers people with disabilities in Vietnam to tell their own story using social media.
Equipped with only an iPod, participants use updates, pictures, and videos to share their experiences. Among the featured storytellers are a 24 year-old determined to finish her education, an engineering student fighting for disability rights, a priest caring for a community of 30 terminally ill seniors and children, and an award winning swimming team comprised of people with disabilities. Click here to listen to their story and pass it forward. For every view, a donor will donate to their cause.
By listening to their stories, we hope you engage in more than a transient do-good moment, because iStory isn’t just about passing retweets or adding likes. iStory is about you engaging with the storyteller to broaden your understanding of the way disabilities impacts a life, and about amplifying the voice of people who might not otherwise be heard.
The Stars of iStory:
Bui, also known as “Mui” by friends, was born in a small town and kept in isolation for most of her young life. Bui cannot walk since birth but is determined to complete her education. At 17, Buil left home to take on the big city and enrolled in the first grade. For years, Bui had to travel two hours each way to get to and from school on her wheelchair.
Dung is a bright and confident engineer who loves to perform. Dung relies on public transportation to get to school everyday and often misses the bus because strangers will not help him get on. One of Dung’s hidden talents is his beautiful singing voice. Outside of studying for his IT degree, Dung loves to perform “cai luong” or “Vietnamese opera” and write screen plays.
Chau cares for thirty terminally ill children and seniors at his shelter in Dong Nai. Chau, or often lovingly referred to as “Thay Chau,” is one of the most selfless people you’ll ever meet. From dawn to dusk, Thay Chau bathes, feeds, and cares for thirty people who have been neglected or abandoned. “Why do you do it,” we asked? Thay Chau responds, “Because no one else would.”
Thuan is a loving brother, husband, and father in a household with three people with disabilities. Thuan and his wife Nga, whose bones break as easy as glass, grew up together in orphanage and fell in love. Against all odds, the couple has raised what they call a “normal” family with two talented boys.
Born with weakened arms and legs, Tu has to be carried to school everyday by his mom. Despite overwhelming challenges, Tu consistently ranks at the top of his class and was admitted to the top technology university in Vietnam. Tu dreams to become a successful engineer and published poet to thank his mom for her sacrifices.
Binh is a charismatic public speaker for victims of agent orange dioxin. Binh and his siblings were affected by agent orange dioxin at birth and live at a shelter in An Phuc. He’s a bit of a celebrity and has a signature smile remembered by audiences across the country. Binh also loves to sing and has a passion for graphic designs.
Sari, Vuong, Den, and Khanh are award-winning swimmers from Sai Gon’s special swim team for people with disabilities. Vuong, for example has one arm and consistently places gold at competitions across Southeast Asia. Sari, Vuong, Den and Khanh are proof that you can achieve anything with the right dose of aspiration, training, and drive.