Preparing for the annual meeting of the Association for Autism we were surprised what we achieved in 2016! Starting in January with the successful participation at the first AAN Autism Games in the Philippines and not ending with the Christmas Party at VAC last week. We were busy the whole year round and sometimes forgot to talk about all our achievements on our website. For all who would like to stay in touch permanently: most activities are almost immediately reported on our facebook page.
Here just some highlights of 2016:
After the Autism Games in January we prepared for another celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD, April 2nd). This year the almost traditional sales exhibition of painting got another premier: painting made by our kids with autism. They were great and sold very well. Many thanks to Catholic Relief Services and the Mercure Hotel for the support. End of April the biggest ever awareness raising event of AfA draw almost 2.000 people to the Glow Run along the Mekong River. Thanks EFG for the organisation and the 5000 USD raised on this occasion.
Our kids successfully participated at the Autism Games in Khon Kaen (Thailand). 15 of them learned at public primary and secondary school jointly with other children.
The Vientiane Autism Center saw a number of great changes. Thanks to support from the Polish Embassy in Bangkok and the Vientiane Diamond Cutting Company (VDCC) we got a modern and well equipped kitchen not only providing day after day food for almost 70 people but also being used as place for life skill and vocational training for our kids.
In May we opened a Toy Library offering not just toys but also learning and teaching aids as well as training for parents on the proper use of toys and support equipment for children with autism. This was supported by the Luxembourg Embassy to Laos. Respective training for teachers and parents were supported by the embassy and VDCC.
We went on with our activities under the TEAM project (financed by USAID) with focus on the three southern provinces Champasak, Savannakhet and Khammouane raising awareness, training people and identifying many children with intellectual disabilities. As part of the TEAM project we launched the android app Lao Autism Talks in September, the first tool for picture based communication in Lao language. This activity was also supported by the TRUE Corporation (Thailand) donating 45 tablet computers to AfA, as well as the Autistic Thai association, the Autism Research Center Khon Kaen and the Khon Kaen Autism Association.
At the end of August AfA organised the second Family Camp, this time in Khon Kaen (Thailand) with almost 100 participants.
Many activities have been undertaken to further train our teachers, supported and coordinated by Ms Sharon Gorton, our volunteer and very good friend from Australia.
In November we started our newest project this time with Handicap International (financed by EU). The only but very challenging goal of this project is the establishment of a new autism center in the southern provincial capital of Pakse early 2017.
Last but not least many thanks to all donors around the world. Thanks to this continuous and valuable support we were able to provide scholarships to 16 children throughout the year 2016 at a total amount of 1.750 USD per month.
Thank you very much! Without this great support of many organisations and people from around the globe none of these great achievements would have be possible. We wish all of you a prosperous and successful 2017!