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Local partner spotlight: Cambodia Disabled Person’s Organisation

ChildFund is committed to partnering with local organisations in the communities where we work, to reduce poverty and achieve long-term and continue improvements in the lives of children and their families.

We believe that working with local partners enhances our capacity to realise children’s rights and improves the effectiveness and reach of the programs we support. By working together, we can harness local knowledge, ensure community needs are met and promote transparency and accountability.

In this new series, we will introduce you to our incredible local partners, whose work is changing the lives of children throughout the Asia-Pacific. This week we spoke with Vibolratanak from the Cambodia Disabled Person’s Organisation

When was your organisation established and why?

Cambodia Disabled People’s Organisation (CDPO) was established in 1994 and is led by people living with a disability. As of 2018, the CDPO has a network of 75 groups including 11 women with disability forums and a total of 20,000 members across 25 provinces. We represent a diverse range of disabilities. The organisation focusses on raising awareness and advocating for people with disability.

What are the main challenges facing the children and families with whom you work?

We face a wide variety of barriers to overcoming the stigma around disability. Many people in the community think that disability is a negative thing and that people with disability don’t have the same value as those who don’t. People with disability also face physical barriers to participating in the community. For example, many buildings don’t have ramps, or the toilets are not accessible.

Communication is another challenge. There is often very little knowledge of sign language and braille is not commonly used.

We are led by people with disability on how to best overcome these challenges so they can fully participate in community life.

What kinds of activities do you implement to overcome these challenges?

To overcome these challenges, we run a variety of initiatives. We regularly meet with groups from each province to hear about the challenges they are facing and how we can overcome them. We provide disability training to stakeholders, raise awareness on disability rights through social media and pamphlets and work directly with families with children with a disability to ensure they can access education and health care.

How do you monitor the effectiveness of your work?

We are committed to ensuring the work we do has a real impact. We meet with the network to get up to date information regarding the issues that children with disabilities are facing. We monitor and evaluate all activities. We also base all our programs on a child protection policy and provide training to all implementing partners.

How long have you been worked in partnership with ChildFund?

We started working with ChildFund in 2017.

What are the benefits of this partnership?

Through this partnership we have learnt innovative ways to support children and youth with disability and have been able to reach more people with our activities. We have also been able to upskill our staff and learn how to effectively monitor and evaluate our programs to maximise our impact.

What initiatives do you have planned for the future?

We want to become a leading voice for people with a disability in Cambodia. Through consultation, collaboration and constructive dialogue, we will work with community and government stakeholders to make sure that people with disability can fully participate in community life and live with dignity. Our network will be strengthened and will better represent the diversity of disability to include women, young people, and those with an intellectual or psycho-social disability.

What would you consider to be the greatest impact your organisation has had on children, families or communities with whom you work?

One of the greatest impacts we have had has been the way that we are able to advocate for the rights of children with disability. We want to empower those living with a disability to be able to advocate for themselves and help them better understand their rights.

As a staff member of KHEN, can you share with us a recent personal highlight of the work you do?

One of my personal highlights has been to be able to work with and advocate for people with disability. I have been able to improve my facilitation and communication skills and produced a roundtable discussion on radio stations to raise awareness for people with disability.

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