'Change the world by being better persons' – Magsaysay Awardee Vo Thi Hoang Yen

The 6 recipients of the prestigious 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards were officially recognized during the presentation ceremonies at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Friday, August 31.

Among the awardees is Vietnam's Vo Thi Hoang Yen, who has dedicated her life to providing livelihood, skills training, and job placement for persons with disabilities through the Disability Research and Capacity Development Center, which she founded.

Here is the full text of her speech, as provided by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

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Distinguished guests. Ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to offer a very special thanks to the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for selecting me.

I have never expected to receive this noble award and to join past recipients who I have long admired and respected. I could not believe it when l got the news! And at that wonderful moment I thought of my late mother and her unconditional love and sacrifice for my education. I learned from her the value of gratefulness, empathy, and sharing.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Ford Foundation office in Vietnam as their scholarship and their confidence in me, giving me the very first grants, helped change my life. l am also truly grateful to the support of my colleagues and volunteers at DRD as they are very much a part of my success.

Without them, I cannot be who I am today.

For me, it is a great honor to accept this award on behalf of people with disabilities in my home country and other developing countries because I am one of them, who are considered as the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. It is all types of discrimination and the struggle of people with disabilities for a more decent life that have inspired me to do my best to make a change. This good cause transformed me from a helpless person with no future into a determined leader and a change agent with a challenging but worthy journey.

This award really reaffirms my belief that everyone is born equal in dignity and worth, and that everyone is entitled – as a human right – to live a life to the fullest extent of his or her abilities. It strengthens my hope that we can have more support and resources to build a better society that addresses the needs and well-being of people with disabilities.

We all want to live in a world of love, peace, and happiness, but as Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." If we make ourselves better persons, we will change our world.

Thank you. – Rappler.com

Read the speeches of other 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards recipients: