ChildFund helps children with disabilities in Cambodia
Tears well in nine-year-old Socheata’s eyes as she describes her childhood before she was diagnosed with a hearing problem.
At school, she felt like she was a distraction in the classroom, constantly asking other students to repeat what the teacher was saying.
“It was hard to hear the teacher teaching and to follow the lesson,” she says.
“My classmates would get frustrated when I asked them what the teacher said. Sometimes, they would just ignore me.”
At home, her parents thought she was not paying them any respect.
“I thought she was lazy and pretended not to hear when I called her,” Channy, Socheata’s mother says.
Like many children with disabilities in developing countries like Cambodia, Socheata had no idea about why she was facing these challenges..
Disability affects nearly 10% of world population, 80% of whom live in developing countries like Cambodia.
Children like Socheata often face social stigma and are unable to reach their potential if they are not diagnosed.
They often lack equal access to education, training and development and this constant lack of opportunity alienates them from fully participating in activities that can enhance their confidence and self-esteem.
Socheata’s hearing problem was diagnosed when ChildFund Cambodia arranged for her to see a hearing specialist through local partner, Krousar Thmey.
When Angkearith from Krousar Thmey diagnosed Socheata with a hearing problem, he informed her mother, who instantly changed her attitude towards her daughter.
“My neighbours and I never knew about things such as hearing problems and we didn’t know where to get support,” Channy says.
“Now, I am so relieved I know. I will help to spread the word about such services to my neighbours and friends.”
Changing community attitudes towards children with disability helps to create a more inclusive environment, so children are not as vulnerable.
ChildFund also works closely with teachers to help identify children with special needs. These children can then be referred to Krousar Thmey where they can undertake tests.
Socheata was fitted with a new hearing aid and she can now hear everything her teacher says in class. She says the new hearing aid will help her reach her potential at school.
“I want to be an outstanding student,” Socheata says. “Now that I can hear, I can do that.”