Eden Centre for Disabled Children (ECDC – Eden) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting people with physical and intellectual disabilities in Myanmar. Established on 18 April 2000, Eden has been focused on meeting the needs of disabled children in Yangon. The vision is to expand its services in the coming years to reach all ages, a wider range of disabilities and more regions throughout Myanmar. The team at Eden emphasises an inclusive approach, providing support services irrespective of gender, race, religion or nationality.
Eden offers the only place in the country where essential services for children with physical and intellectual disabilities, such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation/occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, early intervention program (EIP), special education and social care, are available on the same site. (Refer to appendix one for details on Eden’s services.)
In addition to disability support services, the centre aims to raise disability awareness and promote positive attitudes toward people with disabilities in Myanmar. It does this through training, communications, education and community-based rehabilitation (CBR) projects. Eden is a leader in Myanmar regarding rights-based, inclusive approaches to disability. The team works to change the ‘charity’ mindset common in the disability sector – with families, communities and those working in the field – to help educate people on the fundamental rights and potential of people with disabilities.
Eden was the first to introduce to Myanmar the Social Model of Disability, which emphasises these beliefs – that disability is a development, political and human rights issue that needs to be included in the mainstream development program and national agenda. To demonstrate Eden’s commitment to advancing the cause of people with disabilities in Myanmar, it has developed a 10% disability representation policy for its own staff.
Eden took responsibility for translating and publishing the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) into Burmese and has initiated numerous translations of vital disability resources. It also produces a periodical magazine, information brochures and training handbooks among a range of resources.
The desire to do something for disabled children in Myanmar was rooted in the heart of the founder, U Tha Uke, when he was working as a Physiotherapist in 1995-96 at the Spastic Children Association of Penang, Malaysia, and after volunteering twice a week at the Eden Handicap Service Centre. He continued to work as a Physiotherapist at St. Luke’s Hospital for the Elderly, Singapore, for another two years but came back to his mother country for good in August 1998. He took nearly one year to finish his project proposal for the Eden Handicapped Service Centre (EHSC), Yangon, Myanmar and during that time he met Daw Lilian Gyi, the principal of the School for Disabled Children, who has dedicated her whole life to children with disabilities. She helped him as a mentor for this project from the beginning.
After giving the services to 14 disabled children for more than a year, at their own residences. U Tha Uke (Hta Oke) opened the centre twice a week at the residence of co founder Daw Lilian Gyi in Yangon, by May 2000 and he had used the residence for four months. The first site for the Eden Centre was rented at No. 13 (A), Daw Hla Pan Street, Ward 2, Mayangone Township, Yangon from September 2000 to December 2001, with the help of the chairperson of the organization. The ex-colleges of Tha Uke from St. Luke’s Hospital for the Elderly, Singapore came to visit Myanmar at the time and later helped finance the land. A one story building was financed by the ‘Grass-root Grant Assistance Scheme’ through the Japanese Embassy in August, 2001. In January 2002, they moved again to David Shwe Nu Street, Ward 2, Mayangone Township, Yangon, they remained their for ten months before finally moving onto their current site, Phawkan Insein in November 2002. Their first four staff were recruited in October, 2001 after the ‘Association for Aids and Relief (AAR), Japan’ started to foster our ten children through the ‘foster parent program’ in August 2001. (A grant from AAR through the foster parent program is and was our main source of finance in the early stage) This foster parent program reached its height in 2009 and slowly faded out as agreed from the outset. Since 2013 the foster program has formally ended but still offers general support. Eden was granted level-2 acknowledgement by Department of Social Welfare and a national civil society organization registration by Ministry of Home Affair (MOH) in June, 2015.
Since 2007 The Eden Centre has started making partnerships with other International NGOs and has implemented various projects on “Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR)” and “Inclusive Education (IE)” around the country. Today more than 230 children with disabilities are benefiting and receiving the necessary services, both in the centre and at their own residence. At present there are 60+ full time staff working at the centre and in projects.
A Myanmar where all people with disabilities fulfil their potential…empowered in their identity, rights and capacity, enjoying equal opportunities in communities free of discrimination and dominated by love
- To ensure disabled children fulfill their potential, by providing them with high quality therapy and social care, education and vocational training.
- To equip families and caregivers with the skills, knowledge and experience to fully support the development of the child
- To raise community awareness of the worth and capacity of people with disabilities, leading to their increased inclusion in mainstream life
- To strengthen the disability support sector (from grass root to national government level), improving services through awareness, training, evidence-based research, networking & advocacy activities
For Eden to be a benchmark centre and leading resource for people with disabilities, through extensive and sustainable operations
With LOVE all things are possible
ECDC understands disability as the exclusion of people with impairments from family and social life, equal education, employment and access to basic services because of discrimination. This is also known as the social model of disability. ECDC uses the social model because it has been developed by disabled people, and best represents their experiences and perspectives.
The social model of disability is often contrasted with the medical model, which says that disability is the same as impairment, and so disability can be fixed using medical treatment or therapy alone.
Whilst ECDC is committed to supporting appropriate clinical and therapy services for people with disabilities, we believe that this is not enough on its own. It is essential to address the specific needs people have as a result of their impairment. For example, a Deaf person needs to learn to sign, and a polio survivor may need crutches. However, a Deaf child who can use sign language still cannot communicate if her parents, teacher and classmates don’t learn it too. A child who has crutches is still unable to benefit from education in a mainstream school if the school and staff do not accept them, understand them and barriers to entry and participation are not removed.
Eden strives to create a caring, inclusive and empowering environment for disabled children by:
- providing services and support which values, respects and accepts disabled people and supports them to fulfill their lives with dignity, and on equal terms with others and
- providing direct services, Eden also promotes awareness and provides technical support to community, local and disability support organization’s and advocates for change.
Equal rights: People with disabilities should enjoy equal rights and opportunities and be included in mainstream society with respect and dignity. Through empowerment, knowledge sharing and capacity building, we believe these changes can become realities.
Love: Love, empathy, patience and understanding create the foundation for everything we do. They make personal joy and happiness and social progress possible.
Family Spirit: Our family spirit is central to our Eden community –our staff, students, caregivers and supporters. We seek to build long-term, healthy relationships to best support people with disabilities.
Team Work: We make the most of opportunities and overcome challenges by working together as a team. Our strength comes from unity and collaboration, supported by humility and open-mindedness.
Trust: Building trust and being faithful to our promises are essential to our work as we are entrusted with the privilege of supporting people with disabilities and their families and communities.
Quality: We maintain a client-focus in our work, investing in providing the highest quality services and helpful support. Our vision and passion enable us to continually improve our quality and sustainability.
Social Model of Disability
Disability is caused by the way society is organized, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.
- Pioneer: ECDC is a pioneer private organization for physical and intellectual children with disabilities in the country
- Charity Organization: ECDC is one of a few charity organizations for children with disabilities in Myanmar where there is free of charge (FOC) for all the service provisions.
- Legal Status:
- (1). ECDC was acknowledged by Department of Social WelfareDSW) and gained “LEVEL-II” and
- (2). Register Number – 1/Local/0156 from Ministry of Home Affair (Valid until June, 2020)
- Registered more than 230 students at Day Care: In 2019-20 academic year ECDC admitted more than 230 children with disabilities as regular day care students
- Various Types of Service: Provide as many types as possible for children with physical and intellectual disability at Eden Day Care centre such as Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Early Intervention Program (EIP), Special Education, Diet supplementary, Basic Medical Service, Parent Care Giver Training, Assessment, etc. by related professions, skilled and experiences persons.
- Hydrotherapy: ECDC provide hydrotherapy service for clients since 2008 in its own hydrotherapy pool.
- Social Worker: Recruit qualified Social Worker since 2011.
- Disabled Sport: Start Disabled Sport session with therapist and assistant since 2010.
- Chaplin: Start recruit new parent care and counselling person in 2019.
- Resource Library: Library, Literature Resource, with more than 200 items.
- Disseminate ‘Social Model of Disability’: Since late 2005 ECDC is disseminating ‘Social Model of Disability’ in the country after earning Master degree by Managing Director of ECDC in Disability Studies from University of Leeds, United Kingdom in 2005.
- Focus Disability “AFFAIR”: ECDC is not only institutional based but also community based and focus for all types of disabilities, all age groups. ECDC always focus on ‘Disability Affair’ instead of ‘Disability Welfare’ in every work he do.
- Focus on ‘INCLUSION’ & ‘MAINSTREAMING”: The ultimate goal of all ECDC work is to promote ‘inclusion’ and make ‘disability mainstreaming’ reality in Myanmar community.
- Interest in strengthening legislation, policies: As ECDC is more interested in disability affairs its focus is always strengthening disability related legislation and policies in Myanmar.
- Disability project: Within 12 years ECDC has already implement disability related (20) projects around the country. Some projects are less than one year but some projects are longer than ten years.
- Reach out many rural areas: ECDC had implemented disability project around the country covering Yangon Region, Sagaing Region, Tanintarri Region, Irrawaddy Region, Karen State, Chin State and also work through collaboration at Rakhine State, Shan State and Kareni/Kayah State.
- Translation & Publication: ECDC has translated “United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities” in 2007, “United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD)” into Myanmar and published in bi-lingual, translate ‘Stigma’ and publish more than 30 items on disability books resources.
- Disability Magazine: Had published Disability related magazine for three years (up to Sr. no. 1 to 17). ECDC is the pioneer organization in Myanmar who disseminate “Social Model of Disability” since 2005.
- Research: Conduct researches, “A space to learn for all children? Inclusive education and children with disabilities in Yangon, Myanmar” in 2015 and another research, “The first golden seeds of inclusive education. A case study of Teacher’s experiences, Parent’s perceptions, and the role of Township Education Officers in the implementation of inclusive education in regular schools in Yangon, Myanmar” on 2017.
- Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) project: ECDC has started the work by volunteering to provide services in the community since 1999 and the first CBR project was implemented in 2007 at Hlaingtharyar Township with the financial grant of Association for Aid and Relief (AAR), Japan.
- Inclusive Education (IE) project: ECDC has been started ‘Inclusive Education (IE)’ related project starting from 2007 to 2014 at ten Townships, Yangon Region as the only organization who implemented solely inclusive education project.
- Inclusive Education program: Currently ECDC is supporting children with disabilities to access mainstream formal education through collaboration with Department of Basic Education (DBE) more than 232 from Yangon Region, 24 students from Kalay Myo, Sagaing Region and 53 students from Hakha and Thantlang Townships, Chin State, total 309 students since 2018-19 academic year.
- Myanmar Special Education Association (MSEA): ECDC is one of a founding organization of “Myanmar Special Education Association (MSEA)” in 2013.
- Myanmar CBR Network: ECDC actively participate in forming “Myanmar Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Network” in 2017.
- National Network for Education Reform (NNER): ECDC is actively participate in the activities of “National Network for Education Reform (NNER)” education reform movement since the beginning.
- Conductive Education (CE): ECDC starts new service for children with cerebral palsy (CP) in the day care centre, Conductive Education (CE) program in 2018.
- Collaboration with GO departments: ECDC is working very closely with focal ministry, Department of Social Welfare (DSW), Ministry of Education, local General Administrative Department (GAD), etc.