Q1. What makes you passionate about helping AEPD?
Growing up with a mom who has a disability from Multiple Sclerosis, I have been witness to the barriers within society. In Canada, there has been movement towards creating accessibility within the community. However, there is still progress to be made in order to become fully accessible, as well as, inclusive. In comparison to resources in Vietnam, Vietnam has even more struggles then Canada, due to the excessive lack of services and societal inclusivity. When individuals can not participate and function as able bodied humans, the likelihood of isolation and depression become more apparent. This further separates them from their community leading to, not only stress on the individual, but for their caregivers. More often then not, those individuals with disabilities rely on family members for their basic care. The stress and overwhelm attributed to caring for family members, while at the same time, the pressure of providing for their family, has developed hardships within those family systems. Clients of AEPD are concerned for the future of their children. Many children are caregivers for their family members, which prevent them from fully engaging in society, and leaving them unprepared for adulthood. Other children have been directly affected by Agent Orange and are unable to care for themselves. AEPD is working to improve the quality of life for those who have disabilities by connecting clients to programs, lobbying the government, and trying to enhance their psychosocial and physical wellbeing.
Q2. How do you believe your photography can make a difference for them?
There is power in the art of photography. Photography can be a tool for societal change. As photographers, we are given the opportunity to bring a voice to others experiences. As humans who have disabilities, it is easy to become invisible in society. Photography is a mechanism to validate others experiences by allowing space to create understanding, empathy, and compassion within others. Generating knowledge is power, which in turn, can manifest change and hope. Ultimately, it is my goal to connect humans together by acknowledging the fundamental right to be seen, heard and understood.
Q3. What message would you like to send to your supporters?
The effects of the Vietnam War has current day implications. In today’s society, we are consumed by innovation and immediacy. If we do not stay relevant, we become lost. As a photographer, it is my responsibility to create a platform for stories that require a voice. This is one of them. Your support and donations will further help this organization and the current work they are doing. You are allowing their voice to be heard through your donations. I invite you to support AEPD and follow along my journey to Dong Hoi, Vietnam. Thank you.