Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

People with disability in Cambodia are often marginalised, and not given the opportunity to fully participate in their communities.

This can lead to high levels of unemployment and exclusion, and leave children and families trapped in a cycle of poverty.

ChildFund Cambodia’s  Community Voices project is giving people with disability the opportunity to have a say about the challenges they face in their daily lives, and how these obstacles can be tackled.

In turn, this improves the accountability of village authorities and drives change at a grassroots level, with community members working collaboratively to find innovative solutions to the problems raised.

In rural Svay Rieng, the lack of work and livelihood opportunities was found to be a major issue for people with disability.

Working together, the village decided to provide motorcycle mechanic training to help people with disability find meaningful and stable employment.

Motorcycles have become extremely popular in Cambodia, and there is a long-term need for skilled mechanics.

Ratha, who cannot use his right leg, is one of many parents in Svay Rieng who took part in a mechanics apprenticeship. This is his story.


Growing up in Australia, playing sport was a given, although I never dreamed that I would end up a professional athlete, and especially not a rugby union player.

Having the opportunity to take part in organised sport is not something that is available to all children as I recently saw first hand during a trip to Laos with ChildFund.

In Nonghet Province, in the country’s north, sporting facilities are few and far between. This is a region that is also still recovering from the Vietnam war, with high levels of unexploded ordnance contamination making large areas of land unsafe.

The ChildFund Pass It Back rugby for development program is giving many young people here the opportunity to take part in tag rugby. It’s often the first time they’ve had the chance to play organised sport. Not only is this rugby for good program giving vulnerable children from developing communities to chance to play, but its unique curriculum also teaches young players about planning for the future, teamwork and gender equality.

The sheer joy on the kids’ faces in Laos was infectious. It really is a universal truth that every child loves to play! I was so touched to see how much these children treasure their involvement in rugby and embrace every minute on the field and with their teammates.

The experience really drove home to me that everyone should be able to give sport a go, whether they’re growing up in Laos or Australia, and everyone should be able to try rugby, whether they’re female or male.

What’s most impressive about ChildFund Pass It Back is the fact that over 50 per cent of the participants are girls and young women. Because it’s such a new sport in Laos, there are no pre-conceptions that it’s only a game for the boys.