The website of the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on May 29 ran an article praising Vietnamese “glass-bone” girl - Nguyen Phuong Anh - for her talent and desire to live which have inspired the community.

The article wrote that like all children, those with disabilities have many abilities, but are often excluded from society by discrimination and lack of support, leaving them among the most invisible and vulnerable children in the world.

This fact is reflected by UNICEF in its flagship report “The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities” scheduled to be announced on May 30.

The report brings global attention to the urgent needs of a largely invisible population. Confined to a wheelchair as a result of a bone disease, a Vietnamese girl uses her talent and determination to inspire others.

Nguyen Phuong Anh, 16, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or ‘glass-bone disease’, a genetic disorder causing fragile bones.

“My bones have broken 30 times or more,” she says. “We stopped counting because we thought that it didn’t matter anymore."
Since she was a child, Phuong Anh has fought against stereotypes. “When I was small, I thought that being different is different in a bad way,” she says. “And then, growing up with all the love of my family around me, they helped me realise my true quality and my true colors. I realised it’s okay being Crystal. It’s okay being vulnerable physically. So, that’s why I’m proud to call myself Crystal, because I want people to see me as a girl who is vulnerable physically, but can be hard to break mentally.”

Phuong Anh continues to face barriers at school. “Between classes, I would just sit and chat with my friends or read books or listen to music. But it’s not because that I’m inactive at school, but because of the school platform – it’s not really made for people with wheelchairs to really easily move,” she says.

She says she hopes that fact will change soon, so that people like her can do more things on their own. Since the age of 8, Phuong Anh has used her vocal talent at the Voice of Vietnam, broadcasting radio messages to rural villagers.

Her big moment came, however, when she auditioned for Vietnam’s Got Talent, a television show that brought her national recognition, inspiring millions with her singing.

Working as a Friend of UNICEF Vietnam, Phuong Anh continues to deliver her message to help children with disabilities.-VNA