Helping Children with Disabilities & Chronic Illnesses

Disability and chronic illnesses

The situation

Supporting children with disabilities or chronic illnesses is part of our priority of action. The poverty in the slums and in remote rural areas makes it much more likely that such children will not be properly cared for. They are often left to fend for themselves or even completely rejected by their own families.

In Buddhist countries disability is often considered to be caused by karma: it is the price to be paid for sins committed in a previous life. Therefore, it has to be accepted without a fight, and no efforts are to be made to try and heal from it.

Today in Cambodia fewer than 10% of disabled children go to school or to a special institution that can cater to their needs. In all of the countries of Southeast Asia, there is still a huge amount to be done to convince families of the importance of sending disabled children to school and to ensure that appropriate facilities are available.

Our response

Children of the Mekong works with specialised local partners in order to offer the best possible care and educational support for children with disabilities. For instance, we have set up a collective sponsorship programme to support a centre for disabled youth in Nepal. The centre welcomes children with mental health issues every day to help them become more autonomous. The purpose is also for those young people to regain dignity and felt loved.


  • In Cambodia, more than 65,000 people have lost a limb to a landmine blast.
  • In Laos, there are still about 80 million unexploded bombs.
  • In Vietnam, 15% of the population is disabled. Many are war victims (Agent Orange is estimated to have blighted the lives of up to five million people).
  • In Myanmar, AIDS kills 8,000 people every year.



He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me.


We are convinced that children with disabilities or chronic illnesses all have a place in society and can be role models, both for their families and more widely.


AIDS is widespread in Asia. It is closely linked with drug addiction, afflicting one addict in four. In Kachin State in Myanmar, some children as young as 12 take drugs. Laos is the world’s third-biggest producer of opium (forming the Golden Triangle together with Thailand and Myanmar). This has huge implications for the local people.

The challenge today is to enable children and young people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, often victims of discrimination and poorly understood, to get an education and to find work which will enable them to support themselves and their families.

Many benefits from a collective sponsorship put in place by Children of the Mekong. Wherever possible they are given the opportunity to get an education, often specifically tailored to their needs and delivered by specialist teachers.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Learn more about our privacy policy here.

Latest news and stories from Southeast Asia

Sponsor a child in need

Progress: 85%

Sponsored children: 12 of 14

Learn more


Support Children of the Mekong’s initiatives for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses in Southeast Asia

Sponsor a child now