Nguyen Phuong Anh (L) and Stevie Wonder
Nguyen Phuong Anh, a Vietnamese young woman who has "brittle bone disease", had an informal meeting with American singer Stevie Wonder, now UN Messenger of Peace focusing on persons with disabilities, on September 23.
Their small meeting, aimed to push jointly for greater inclusion of children with disabilities, took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, held that same day in New York, where 16-year-old Anh represented disabled people in Vietnam.
Speaking to Anh, Stevie Wonder, the blind American singer, musician and songwriter, said: “No one should be excluded because they’re blind, or because of any disability or because of their status or their color. We cannot allow our differences to let our fear put dreams to sleep. This young lady-Crystal [as Phuong Anh calls herself] – did not,” according to a report from the UN children’s fund (UNICEF).
"Osteogenesis Imperfecta" has broken her bones more than 30 times and forces her to use a wheelchair. Anh has been famous in her home country after joining Vietnam's version of the Got Talent television show last year and making it to the final ground with her singing talent.
Since then, she has appeared on different shows and programs for local disabled people and helps them to believe in themselves and find the strength to overcome all difficulties in lives.
In May last year, the UNICEF chose the young woman as a global face and wrote of her as a “Vietnamese girl who uses her talent and determination to inspire others.”
Now, apart from studying and time for social activities, Phuong Anh is working as a friend of UNICEF to deliver her message to help children with disabilities.
“What’s really important is for everyone with disabilities or others, is to be able to live in a society where miracles happen like Stevie Wonder – and he is a wonder,” Phuong Anh said of Wonder.
“I think developing countries like Vietnam that have not yet ratified the Convention on the rights of the People with Disabilities, should really consider ratifying it and make things happen,” she said.
The Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities is an international human rights treaty of the UN intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities
63-year-old Stevie Wonder, who went blind shortly after birth, also spoke about his and Phuong Anh’s common spirit and commitment to break down barriers for those with disabilities.
“I am really going to push everyone to join our world of inclusion,”
“The more people who are doing things that make a difference and are part of this world of inclusion, the smaller the world gets of people who are not committed and ultimately we will end up with a world of inclusion,” he said.
Wonder started to perform as a professional singer at the age of 11. He has recorded more than 30 US top ten hits and received 22 Grammy Awards.
As an African American, Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the US.
In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 50th anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
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