A confident future

25 Aug 2013   |   Blog   |   Cambodia   |   Long-term Development

Tags:  disability   |   1 comment

Samphors, 17, grew up in a poor village in Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province. Her childhood days were spent cooking, cleaning and working in the rice field with her mother. Village life can be hard, but it’s much harder when you can't hear.

Through the Maryknoll Cambodia Deaf Development (MDD) program, supported by Caritas Australia, Samphors is learning to communicate, is making friends, and is growing in confidence.

One of approximately 51,000 people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment in Cambodia, Samphors did not attend school and had become entirely dependent on her family.

In January 2008, Samphors began a two-year DDP basic education course where she was taught Cambodian sign language, Khmer writing and learnt to navigate a hearing world and communicate with people who can hear. After graduating, Samphors gained employment as a housekeeper for a family in Phnom Penh, but her taste for education meant she wanted to learn more.

Samphors told us: “Before I came to DDP, I did not understand what people around me were doing. I went to the rice field and worked with my mother, and was responsible for all kinds of housework like cooking and laundry; I couldn’t understand what people were saying. At DDP, I learnt how to read and write Khmer, I learnt sign language and I have friends! I was very happy in class and I like signing. I sign every day and I am happy with signing.”

I learnt how to read and write Khmer, I learnt sign language and I have friends! I was very happy in class and I like signing. I sign every day and I am happy with signing.”

In May 2011, Samphors returned to learn sewing skills at the Cambodia Japan Friendship Training Centre. Other skills taught to students who are deaf or have a hearing impairment are hairdressing, sewing machine repair and agriculture; giving them the ability to start their own business or gain employment.

Samphors’ main goal is to earn a decent living so she can support her mother and family. She feels like she has become a new person and is hoping that her skills will play an important role in poverty reduction in her community.

The program

Since 2008, Caritas Australia has been supporting the Maryknoll Cambodia Deaf Development Program. The program works with people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, who so often face discrimination from their communities.

The program helps people become independent and confident through education, skills training, income generation support, a Cambodian sign language interpreting service, social service support and community development activities. As the students come from very poor families, all costs, including living expenses, are covered by the program.

2013: a year of change  

“As of June 2013 there were 90 students attending six basic education classes and 55 people attending various skills training sessions. Most students and trainees came from rural areas but the trainings usually occur in the cities of Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Kampot,” said Chanthea Nou, Caritas Australia Program Coordinator, Cambodia and Philippines.

“2013 has been a particularly remarkable year so far for increased collaboration between DDP and Cambodian NGO, Krousar Thmey,” said Chanthea.

“Our DDP program focuses on basic education, interpreting and job training for young people aged 16 and over; while Krousar Thmey runs blind and deaf schools for children aged up to 16 years. Both programs work together well as some of the young people from Krousar Thmey also join vocational training at DDP.

“This year, to collaborate further on common Cambodian Sign Language (CSL), a joint committee composed of DDP and Krousar Thmey staff was formed. Plus to advocate for better services for deaf people, DDP has also been working closely with relevant government ministries at national level such as Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Education, Disability Committee for Action, and People with Disability Foundation.”

Caritas Australia believes that disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty, and therefore we ensure that all community development programs are accessible to people with disabilities. Read here for more about our work with people with disabilities.

2012-13 program highlights

  • 971 people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment have been supported with interpreting services such as communicating with hearing people about job trainings, court trials, health, dental and clinical services, and community work.
  • 14 CSL Interpreters successfully completed their training course. Two were then hired by DDP to work in Phnom Penh and Kampot province.
  • 177 follow-up visits to workplaces, training classes and businesses were conducted.
  • 62 unwell DDP students and other members of the deaf and hearing impaired community, who were receiving medical treatments at various hospitals, received assistance from the CSL interpreting team.
  • Through the use of interpreters, the number of people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment participating in social activities such as healthcare and legal services has significantly improved.

This program is supported by Australian Aid.

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1 comment:

  • Anonymous

    “It's so nice to hear a story of a young girl being empowered and becoming more involved with the community. Caritas has done a great job with this project.”